By Laura Kelly
Winter is coming, and for some of us that means nothing more than the winter blues. But who says wintertime has to be a downer? After all, it’s a time outdoor fun.
So don’t pull those covers over your head. If you’re looking for some adventure and/or a way to make the snow more bearable, try some sledding. No, we’re not talking down-your-backyard-bunny-hill sledding; we’re talking 9-mile-toboggan-runs-down-the-Swiss-Alps sledding. Intrigued? Read on for eight sledding spots that will make you wonder why you ever settled for less.
Looking for some record-breaking fun? Situated in western Austria, the Wildkogel Sledding Arena is home to the world’s longest floodlit toboggan run. At just over eight miles, the thrilling course takes 30 to 50 minutes to complete. Travel by lift almost a mile up to the start of the run, and then descend by toboggan or sled to the bottom of the mountain. You can rent sleds in town, but be sure to reserve them well in advance. The track is floodlit until 10 p.m. and is open from December to mid-March.
Price: Adult day pass $36; Child day pass $18
2Tromso, NorwayLloyd Rehnlund
Framed by dramatic mountains and fjords and extending into the Lapland tundra, Tromso is an ideal setting for an unforgettable sled ride. Top-rated operator,Lyngsfjord Adventure offers a highly recommended evening reindeer sled ride from November to March. During the four and a half-hour-long sled ride, learn about the indigenous Sami people and get the chance to see the magical Northern Lights. FYI- Tromso is considered one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. The excursion concludes with a hot meal and includes transportation to and from the sled site.
Price: Adult $258; Child (ages 4 to 15) $129
3Bergün, SwitzerlandAndrea Badrutt/ Berguen Filisur Tourism
Begin your journey with a scenic ride on the historic Rhaetian Railway through winding tunnels and over striking UNESCO World Heritage landscapes. Arrive in Preda at almost 6,000 feet above sea level — you can grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants there — and suit up for a 4-mile-long floodlit toboggan ride that drops over 1,300 feet and runs beneath ancient stone bridges. For a faster-paced course in the same area, try the toboggan run from Darlux to Bergün (Adult $16; Child $10).
Price: Adult single-ride pass $15; Child single-ride pass $8; Sled rental from $8 per day
4Haute-Savoie, FranceAravis/David Machet
Referred to by some as the No. 1 destination in the world for winter sports, Haute-Savoie, just 50 minutes from Geneva, is a top-notch spot for sledding, especially for kids. Ski resort La Clusaz has three toboggan runs, one of which is 400 feet long and gentle enough for the kiddos. At the neighboring Manigod ski resort, kids (and adults alike) can try their hands at driving a paret — a wooden sled with one blade, a steering handle and a plank for a seat. Local children used the parent to get to school in the winter.
What better way to experience luging than to sled down an official Olympic luge track? At the Canada Olympic Park in Alberta, you can drive your own sled down the same luge track used by athletes in the 1988 Winter Games. Start at the tourist start point and hold on tight as you whizz through five adrenaline-pumping turns and reach speeds up to 37 mph, all within 40 seconds. The track is available to those over 8 years old and is open from November to January.
Price: $34 per run
6Bavaria, GermanyWallbergbahn/ Eugen Gebhardt
Famous for its sled run, Wallberg Mountain, located just south of Munich in the Tegernsee Valley, is a popular vacation destination. The mountain’s 6-mile sled run is the longest natural sled run in Germany, taking about 30 minutes to complete. To get to the start of the course, you take a cable car (which operates from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to an elevation of over 5,000 feet. During the descent, you’ll witness stunning views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. If you’d like to experience other sled runs, there are a total of eight natural toboggan runs lining the Tegernsee Lake.
Price: Adult cable-car ticket $14; Child cable-car ticket $8; Sled rentals $7 per day
7South Tyrol, ItalySüdtirol Marketing/ Alessandro Trovati
In northeastern Italy, in the province of South Tyrol, you’ll find the famously stunning mountain range, the Dolomites. Located in the Italian Alps, this mountain range is chock full of sledding trails for all levels and abilities. On Monte Cavallo, check out the longest snow-covered toboggan trail in Italy, stretching 6 miles long. It starts at an elevation of 6,000 feet, is open for night sledding Tuesdays and Saturdays and is often open during the spring, thanks to a snow maker. For a more challenging terrain, try the 6.5-mile RudiRun trail at the Plose ski resort.
8Grindelwald, SwitzerlandJungfrau Region / Mattias Nutt
Carve the longest toboggan run in the world into the snowy slopes of the Swiss Alps and you get the mind-blowing, breathtaking 9-mile Big Pintenfritz sled run. The trek to the start of the run involves a 2-hour hike from First — after a 25-minute gondola ride from Grindelwald — but the views of the surrounding glaciers and mountains make the hike completely worth it. Once at the summit, hop onto your toboggan and slip and slide down the course through a handful of villages as you drop a total of 5,000 feet. During the ride, feel free to stop and grab a bite to eat at one of the villages.
Price: Gondola ride to First, $34 per person