You’ve skied it. You’ve hiked it. You’ve mountain biked it, rafted it and nature trailed it, and now you’re doing that all over again with the kids. But mountain ranges are some of nature’s greatest playgrounds and there are more ways to enjoy the mountains than you think. From the pristine, snow-capped peaks to the rocky, rugged lowlands, check out our guide to nine mountain-based activities that will re-inspire your passion for these stunning natural wonders.
1. Build an Igloo
Because tents are so 20th century. If you have plenty of snow and ice, igloo building is a terrific family activity, and you can even spend the night in your icy little home and turn it into a true mountain adventure. It’s harder than it looks, and you’ll have to be careful with ventilation, but igloo building is a back to basics mountain experience you’ll want to repeat year after year.
2. Take a Trail Ride
Even if you’ve hiked and biked your range for years, seeing the mountain scenery from horseback is an exciting way to fall in love with views you’ve taken for granted before. If you’ve never ridden, take a short introductory ride through a forest to give you a taste of the adventure without the saddle soreness. More experienced riders can head out for whole day or overnight treks—a terrific way to get back to nature, and you’ll make a new (horsey) friend to boot.
3. Take Care of the Mountains
If you’ve got some spare time on your hands, what about mountain volunteering? All over the world, volunteer groups get involved in caring for these precious places. You might be clearing or repairing upland paths, or working to help protect snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan—from the lowlands to high altitude, mountain ecosystems need your help.
4. Zoom Down an Alpine Slide
Alpine slides are becoming more and more popular as ski resorts work to maximize their summer income. Similar to a bobsled ride but without the ice (and less dangerous) these slides are great fun for the whole family. Riders sit on a wheeled cart and have complete control over their speed. Loads of fun with minimal effort!
5. Get Your Snow Shoes On
Snowshoeing is an easy snow skill to master: if you can walk, the saying goes, you can snowshoe. It’s a great winter activity for the whole family, as people of all ages and abilities can take part. It’s as simple as renting a pair of snowshoes and opting to either join a guided walk or making your own way.
6. Hone Your Survival Skills
The mountain wilderness is the perfect setting to get your Bear Grylls on and practice your skills at surviving “out there”. Many areas run wilderness survival camps or training courses for adults, and some outdoor mountain camps for kids also incorporate some level of survival training. From trapping and shelter-building to identifying medicinal mountain plants, it’s all handy information to save for a rainy day. Stick with someone competent, though, or you’ll get lost and be left to figure it out yourself…
7. Appreciate the Universe
Pristine mountain air is perfect for stargazing—the lack of light pollution is important and the feeling of being in nature just adds to the cosmic experience. Wonderfully romantic for couples and strangely enthralling for even the most awkward of teens, mountain stargazing is something everyone should do at least once. Watch out for the dates of meteor showers and take a drive up into the mountains to watch.
8. Hunt for Bigfoot. Or Aliens. Or Both.
Most mountain areas are rich in tales of strange creatures, weird lights and odd sightings. From abandoned mines to eerie tumbledown buildings, there’s plenty in the mountains to give you the creeps if that’s your idea of a good time. Why not join a guided paranormal tour or hook up with a paranormal group to see if you can track Bigfoot or whatever else lurks in the wilderness?
9. Save Lives
If you’re a competent outdoors type, good with navigation, and have basic roping skills, think about signing up as a mountain rescue volunteer. Training takes around 18 months to complete, but once qualified, you’ll have the satisfaction of taking on the mountains at their most challenging,and you’ll be helping to save lives. What better way could there be to honor these spectacular environments and the people who love to enjoy them?