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Driftwood Outdoors: Winter outdoor options do exist

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WINTER can be a tough time to find outdoor recreation in Indiana.

Sure, there’s ice fishing and cold-weather hiking. A few hard-core enthusiasts may even spend a couple of frigid nights camping. But these activities aren’t thrilling to most.

But a few exciting outdoor options do exist in Indiana.

Pokagon State Park, located in the northeast corner of the state near Angola, features cross-country skiing and an incredible toboggan run. Visiting Pokagon during the winter has become an annual tradition for many Hoosier families. With the beautiful Potawatomi Inn on site, Pokagon is the perfect place to spend a weekend relaxing and reconnecting with nature during a time of year when most are just dreaming of spring.

The park’s refrigerated toboggan run has become somewhat of a legend among Indiana outdoor enthusiasts. It’s the sort of iconic location that transcends generations. Grandparents tell grandchildren about how they rode the toboggan run so many years ago.

Cross-country skiing is another highlight of winter at Pokagon. And you don’t have to own skis to participate. There is a rental office onsite. Visitors also can ride gentle slopes on their own sleds and tubes; enjoy ice skating and ice fishing on Lake James; and walk miles of trails through tranquil woods in the heart of winter.

Downhill skiing is another exciting winter activity available in Indiana. If fact, there are two downhill ski resorts in southern Indiana: Perfect North and Paoli Peaks.

It may be difficult for people from the tabletop flat, northern half of Indiana to understand how the southern half of the state has areas adequate for downhill skiing. But the fact is, it does.

To be fair, Indiana is far from Colorado. These aren’t mountains you’ll be skiing on; they’re hills. If you have ever traveled to a ski resort in Michigan, then you should know what to expect. Both Paoli Peaks and Perfect North are comparable to the resorts of our neighboring state to the north.

Paoli Peaks is in the quaint town of Paoli, which is about an hour south of Bloomington. Perfect North is in Lawrenceburg just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Both of these ski resorts offer beginners a great opportunity to learn how to ski or snowboard in a comfortable environment with beginner hill options and gently sloping longer runs. There are also terrain parks and steeper, more challenging hills for advanced down-hillers.

Turning a trip to either of the ski resorts into a destination experience is easy to do. Paoli is located just down the road from French Lick. With the casino and other attractions drawing visitors to town year round, there’s plenty to do for a weekend. Perfect North lends itself to all the excitement of the big city with the highlights of Cincinnati just a stone’s throw away.

Don’t let cabin fever consume you this winter. With a little imagination and a willingness to take a road trip to a new destination, you can enjoy the great outdoors throughout the winter months.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler can be reached at

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