A Novice's Guide to Wisconsin Winters

Beginner Ski Lessons, Rentals, Parks and Activities

To some, winter means retreating indoors, blinds down and snow boots deep in the closet. Wisconsin, though, is full of wonderful ways to head outside and stay active in the winter. Have you ever wondered how to get started? We’ve got the perfect novice’s guide to Wisconsin winters with information on ski lessons, rentals, parks and activities.

Downhill skiing for the first time? Don’t be afraid to take a lesson or two.

Before you try mastering the chairlift, ensure you know how to make your way down the hill. That means downhill ski lessons. Whether you get a group of friends to join you or prefer a private session, you’ll become a snow bunny in no time with the help of an enthusiastic skiing instructor. Most ski resorts in Wisconsin offer lessons, but be sure to make a reservation before arriving. Try one of these locations, or call ahead to any of Wisconsin’s downhill ski hills to check availability.

Trying snowshoes on for size? Check if rentals are available.

Many people are reluctant to try a new winter sport because they don't want to invest in new equipment. Snowshoeing is a great low-impact sport, and there are many places around Wisconsin that rent snowshoes. Many state parks and nature centers offer equipment rental during the winter months and are a great place to get started. Here are a couple places to explore:

Looking to conquer the snow with cross-country skis? Use maps for trail difficulty.

State parks across Wisconsin offer great cross-country skiing trails for all skill levels. Check out their maps to start your snowy adventure off right—even if you’re a beginner. Look for the marked skill level required on trail maps. Call the park headquarters for trail conditions or take a look at Travel Wisconsin’s Snow Conditions Report. Here are two spots to get you started:

Mark your calendar for a winter event or group hike.

Towns across the state embrace the cold with winter festivals and events. Cheer on your favorite pooch from the sidelines at events like the annual Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race. If you’re interested in a more hands on activity, look for an organized group hike or snowshoeing event. Across the state, park systems schedule events, and sometimes offer equipment to rent. At some events a limited supply of free equipment is even available if you get there early! We suggest you try a romantic candlelight hike or snowshoe event—it’ll get your heart racing in more ways than one! Check our events page to find events in your area.

When all else fails, take a ride!

If you aren’t eager to dive into the snow, enjoy a peaceful ride under a canopy of glistening, icy trees on a horse-drawn carriage ride. Stay bundled up while you enjoy the winter wonderland. Looking for more excitement? Try snowtubing! If you want the thrill of speeding down a Wisconsin winter hill (no skills required), grab an inner tube and go! In the Milwaukee area, head to Sunburst in Kewaskum, where you have more than 40 lanes of different speeds to choose from. For a slower start, try the “bunny hill” of tubing lanes at Badlands Sno-Park in Hudson. Most tubing parks have a chalet and hot chocolate when you need to warm up. Check out these snow spots, or find more snowtubing fun where you live or plan to travel.