In many regions in the nation, wintertime, with its cold days and long nights, gets a bad rap. For the savvy traveler, America's Byways deliver exciting experiences to get you through the long months before spring. Meet a Bald Eagle, send off dogsled riders, or enjoy a spin on an outdoor ice rink.
In early December, come to the Winter Wonderland celebration in Lawrenceburg, on Indiana's part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway, when the town's ice skating rink opens in Todd Creech Park. Open from December 1 to January 15 or so, the outdoor rink draws well-bundled families to enjoy a traditional winter community experience. If you'd like to spend your wintertime out of the elements, the Koshare Kiva in La Junta on the Colorado portion of the Santa Fe Trail offers the perfect remedy for winter boredom. Performed in December and January each year (as well as a few months each summer), the Koshare Winter Ceremonial is an annual experience of Native American dances from Southwestern Pueblos that boasts a fifty-year history of traditional celebration. Your ticket price includes free access to the museum, so come early for seats and enjoy the Koshare Indian Museum experience.
Watch for Eagles
Cold, snowy months invite bird lovers to the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Route, the Great River Road in Illinois, and the Little Dixie Highway in Missouri for some of the largest congregations of Bald Eagles in the nation. The Mississippi Flyway's open waters and cool air provide the perfect hunting locale for these noble birds. Events along these America's Byways in January and February each year include Masters of the Sky demonstrations at the National Great River Museum in Alton, Illinois; Bald Eagle Days in Clarksville and St. Louis, Missouri; Eagle Meet and Greet Sundays in Grafton and Alton, Illinois; and more. See a Bald Eagle up close and personal, take a guided tour of popular sites, or witness a trained birds of prey demonstration.
Look for Treasure
For a truly unconventional winter experience, stop by the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Oregon for "Finders Keepers." Beginning in October and extending until Memorial Day weekend each year, Finders Keepers features handcrafted glass floats – the same number as the current year – that appear along the beaches of Lincoln City. Each float is signed and numbered. By bringing the float to the local Visitor and Convention Bureau you'll receive a signed certificate of authenticity and information about the artist. While searching the beaches, take along a garbage bag and help make the beach a better place by cleaning up litter.
Send Out the Dogs
Winter sports regularly draw folks out of their homes during the long winter months. For dogsledders, the corner of 4th Avenue and D Street in Anchorage, Alaska holds a special place in their hearts. Since 1925, when the first dogsled riders served as the only means of providing diphtheria treatment to Nome residents, the Iditarod Trail Dogsled Race defines the epic winter trek. Participate in March's big send-off as a part of your Glenn Highway or Seward Highway adventure.
Celebrate the Snow
Near Lakes to Locks Passage in New York lies the small town of Lake Placid, home to some of America's exciting Winter Olympics memories. The region offers countless cold-weather diversions, including world-class athletic events and the venerated Saranac Winter Carnival. Held early February each year, the carnival boasts a 100-year history, including countless activities like torchlight skiing, snow sculptures, snowshoe races, figure skating demonstrations, and a classic film festival.
Whether you finish the winter with a beautifully crafted glass float or a handful of great memories, your trips along America's Byways this winter promise to chase away the long winter blues.
- Public domain. Courtesy of Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce
- Public domain. Photo courtesy of Alton CVB
- Copyright © July 2007 Bob Ward.
- Copyright © January 2002 Alaska Division of Tourism.