Get Ready for a Great Year Outdoors

From inspiring reading to skill building to trip planning, there are many easy and rewarding ways you can beat the winter blahs.


  • Yellowstone
    You can examine how shadows fall to help you determine which direction is north.
    SUMO HARADA/MINDEN PICTURES
  • Yellowstone National Park
    Winter temperatures may be frightful, but don’t isolate yourself indoors all season long. Bundle up, take a hike and breathe in the crisp, cold air. You’ll be surprised at the wonders you encounter and how they lift your spirits.
    KONRAD WOTHE/MINDEN PICTURES
  • knot
    The taut-line hitch is one of the most useful and versatile knots.
    JANET HORTON
  • Grandfather Mountain
    Grandfather Mountain in eastern North Carolina.
    BILL LEA
  • Oxeye daisy
    Oxeye daisy. With the right guide, you can learn to identify wildflowers quickly.
    JIM BRANDENBURG/MINDEN PICTURES
  • The Big Dipper
    The Big Dipper over Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.
    JIM BRANDENBURG/MINDEN PICTURES
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plan ahead for your next National Park vacation, and you can take advantage of hands-on instructions in nature courses and workshops.
    TIM FITZHARRIS/MINDEN PICTURES

  • Yellowstone
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • knot
  • Grandfather Mountain
  • Oxeye daisy
  • The Big Dipper
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Winter: It has its wonders, no question. But let’s face it: In most regions, there are downsides — gray skies, chill winds and icy precipitation. As much as you enjoy the outdoors, you can expect to spend too many hours rained out, snowed in or otherwise cooped up this time of year.

But just because winter is the nature lover’s off-season doesn’t mean it has to be the season of the sofa. Here are some things you can do now to nurture your love of nature, feed your dreams of sunnier days and prepare for your best year ever exploring the great outdoors.

Fireside Reading

Sometimes all it takes is a good book to transport you beyond your confines and into the natural world. Curl up near a fire on a blustery winter’s day, open to page one, and presto — off you go, buoyed by the words of writers who have a knack for opening our eyes to the planet’s wonders.

I offer here a list of my own favorites, plus samples from a few of them; over the years I’ve come to consider these books good friends. Some are classics, some contemporary; some are well-known, others not so.



The Travels of William Bartram by William Bartram

The Journals of Lewis and Clark by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis



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