Virginia State Parks in Winter – There’s Lots to Do!

Shared by Tanya Hall as a guest blogger.

Even though the solstice is over and the days are starting to get longer, we still have a few winter months to get through. How can we make the most of the season?
I’m an outdoors person. I love hiking different trails or riding different trails. I love sitting outside and listening to the birds while reading a book with the warm sun warming my back… eeeeerrrkkkkkk (Imagine a record being broken here very quickly!) It’s winter. It’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s raining, it’s dreary. I feel like the sun doesn’t come out for days. What should I do now? Sitting here in my deck chair, I had a few ideas of how to spend my next few weeks.

I will:

Go hiking. Hiking trails are so different this time of year. The view is new as there are no leaves on the trees to hide the amazing views. Listen and see if you can hear various bird noises and small noises made by the many birds that pass by. Become acquainted with our resident birds such as the colorful northern cardinal, the rough mimic of the blue jay, the white splatter on the tail feathers of the dark-eyed junco, or the loud fuss of the Carolina wren.

Play I Spy with yourself or with a child or friend. Look up at the treetops or climb down and look at ground level. Find the animal tracks in the mud or in the snow. Many animals do not leave the area for the winter and most do not hibernate all season. This is the perfect time to spot deer abrasions, bear scratches, half-eaten nuts, underground mammal breathing holes and other animal signs.

Ranger Hall looking for animal tracks

Ranger Hall searches for animal tracks in Hungry Mother State Park.

Create a nature craft. Pinterest is full of nature-inspired craft books and great ideas. Get creative and create fun nature gifts for friends, family or wildlife. Use materials you find on the ground, but please do not pick, drag, or fell any living materials, especially in a park. Collect stuff in your house and turn these items into new masterpieces. Tree cookies, natural weaving, and pine cone decorating are just a few of the activities you can try. What else can you create?

Natural crafts on the theme of winter.

Natural crafts on the theme of winter.

Play in the snow or in cold weather. Get out and enjoy this time of year and all the activities that you can only do in winter. The more your body is out in the cold, the quicker it will acclimate and you won’t feel as cold. Tobogganing, ice skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing or skiing. Make a snow angel or see who can hike the furthest in deep snow. Build a snowman in each of your neighbors’ yards so the snowmen have someone to talk to every night after bed. Just play!

Sledding at Hungry Mother

Go sledding at Hungry Mother State Park.

Read the new book. As I wrote before, I like to sit outside and read when it’s sunny. Gather materials for the campfire, a warm blanket, and a good book. Build a campfire, wrap yourself in the blanket and settle in to lose yourself in a great story while enjoying the great outdoors.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean nature is gone. It just looks and feels a little different. Get out there, get dirty and stay healthy. Remember to layer clothing to stay warm and always carry water – this is just as important in winter as it is in summer. Visit your nearest state park or do some of these fun activities in your backyard. Before you know it, winter is over and in the heat of summer we wish for snow again.