15 Unique, Warm Places To Escape The Freezing Cold And Rain This Winter

You've binged whole weekends of shows, caught up on all the award-winning films, have played every video game like a boss, are consuming delivery pizza like it's a new Olympic sport, and now everyone and their cousin has a cough.

Yeah, time to get out before they film a horror movie at your house. Grab the gloves and hat and head out and ditch this cabin fever.

As luck would have it, there are a ton of great places to escape this weekend and next into the great outdoors. Here's a look at just a few cool things planned around the region.

Go ski, tube and ice skate

With one of the best starts to the Mid-Atlantic ski seasons in about 10 years, West Virginia's five downhill ski resorts are all running wide open.

And that is great news in the mountains, where more than 850,000 folks come to ski, snowboard and play outside in the well-named Mountain State.

From the lowest elevated slopes at Oglebay to Snowshoe Mountain, which has 60 slopes open, there's some prime skiing here in the heart of winter.

Off the slopes, Snowshoe Mountain welcomes in D.C. band, Footwerk to its Beats on the Basin series, and comedian Greg Hall will bring the laughs to the Comedy Cellar.

Up in Canaan Valley, the highest valley east of the Mississippi, both the state-run Canaan Valley and family-owned Timberline Resort are running wide open with 84 trails between them - and with natural snow, and cold weather it is prime time to hit the cross country ski area, White Grass. And the Valley has great places to ice skate and tube (Canaan), backcountry ski (Timberline and Canaan) and sled (Blackwater Falls).

Closest to Huntington, Winterplace, just south of Beckley has all 27 of its trails open day and night, with one of the largest offerings in the region for night skiing and 15 lanes of snow tubing.

Do go chasing waterfalls

Featured in our first "Dave Trippin'" book, Cumberland Falls, the Niagara of the South, is always a great roadtrip into the heart of south-central Kentucky, and near the expansive Big South Fork National Recreation Area.

This weekend, Jan. 19-21, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park will host the Kentucky Hills, Woods and Waters Weekend with free activities and workshops including guided hikes, kayaking, fishing, wildlife watching and wildlife habitat restoration.

On Friday, Cumberland Falls naturalists will give talks on the history of the 125-foot-wide and 68-foot-high Cumberland Falls, geology, kayak fishing, tour the falls and astronomy. On Saturday, sessions include wildlife habitat restoration, deer biology, trout fishing and backpacking.

On Saturday evening, former Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer will speak. The park also offers a wild game buffet for $39.99 each that includes the Farmer appearance. Reservations for the Farmer appearance at 8 p.m. are required and can be made by calling 606-528-4121.

On Sunday, there will be hikes to Natural Arch, the fire tower and Yahoo Falls, which, at 113 feet, is the highest waterfall in Kentucky.

Email BretA.Smitley@ky.gov for a detailed program schedule. All programs are free except the Farmer appearance. Visit http://parks.ky.gov/calendar/details/kentucky-hills-woods-and-waters-weekend-/79913/ for more information.

The 53rd annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike

A must-see destination for hikers, Southern Ohio's Hocking Hills (just an hour and change north of Huntington) is known in winter for its annual winter hike.

Now in its 53rd year, head up and meet up at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, for a six-mile trek from Old Man's Cave to Ash Cave. Note that with its proximity to Columbus, this event draws thousands of hikers who flock to see the region's rock formations, soaring cliffs, deep gorges and waterfalls freeze to icy, crystal sculptures, making the Hocking Hills one of the Buckeye State's most popular winter destinations.

The hike features continuous starts from 9-11 a.m. Hot bean soup, served midway at Cedar Falls, is free, though donations are encouraged. A shuttle bus will return hikers from Ash Cave to the Old Man's Cave parking lot.

And don't miss the third annual Frozen Festival at the park, which features more than two dozen mammoth glittering ice sculptures, ice carving demonstrations, live music, ice corn hole, a giant ice photo frame and an ice throne - perfect for selfies. The Jan. 20 event also features local arts and crafts, food trucks, local dining and more.

Complete traveler information is available at ExploreHockingHills.com or by calling 800-462-5464.

Playing in a winter wonderland

Get ready for a flashback to the 1960s. North Bend State Park's annual Winter Wonder Weekend is scheduled for Jan. 19-21 and will feature hiking, crafts and activities - all with a 1960s theme.

The weekend will start at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, and conclude Sunday, Jan. 21, before noon. Bill Beatty of Wellsburg, West Virginia, will present '60s-themed programs, and Wendy and Ron Perrone of Three Rivers Avian Center will present their popular program "Wings of Wonder, Birds of Prey."

Enjoy hikes, crafts, dinner, live music and more. Sunday features a morning devotional and a special presentation on West Virginia's state parks in the '60s by Sam England, chief of parks and recreation section.

To find out more info about the weekend and lodging package, and to reserve a spot visit www.northbendsp.com or call 304-643-2931.

Eagle watch weekends at Kentucky State Parks

The Bald Eagle has made an amazing comeback, and you can celebrate that recovery by heading west to take in a unique Kentucky State Park tradition - Eagle Watch Weekends - in January and February 2018.

Head all the way west through the Commonwealth to two of the largest manmade lakes in America - Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley - where there have been Eagle Watch Weekends each winter for the past four decades.

Tours are led by state park naturalists and staff from the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and take place on an excursion yacht and in a van.

Here's a look at the schedule:

>> Lake Barkley State Resort Park (270-924-1131): Jan. 19-21. Yacht tours and van tours to the Land Between the Lakes.

>> Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park (270-362-4271): Jan. 26-28. Yacht tours and van tours to the Ballard Wildlife Management Area.

>> Kenlake State Resort Park (270-474-2211): Eagle Weekend with evening programs Feb. 2-4. Eagle cruise Feb. 9. Brunch cruises on Feb. 4, 10. Lunch cruises on Feb. 2, 10.

Guests should bring warm clothes, rain gear and binoculars. These trips can take place under extreme weather conditions. The resorts offer lodges, cottages and restaurants.

Call the parks for registration, details and fee information or visit: www.parks.ky.gov

Get signed up for winter adventures

Just one week remains to get signed up for one of the largest winter-time state park adventure weekends - the ninth annual Winter Adventure Weekend at Carter Caves State Resort Park set to run Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 25-28, with more than 250 people from nine states already signed up.

Guests ages 6 and up can choose from the 201 different trips including hiking, paddling trips, recreational tree climbing, cave tours including wild cave trips, winter survival, rappelling, ice climbing a zip line and other adventures.

Trips are available for beginners and advanced winter adventurers alike. All of the trips and events are led by guides. The list of the trips, along with registration information and other details for the 2018 event are available at www.winteradventureweekend.com. All participants must register online.

Guests will be responsible for appropriate dress, water, snacks and other items.

The nonrefundable fee for adults (age 18 and older) is $50; teenagers (age 13-17) is $35; and the nonrefundable fee for children ages 6-12 is $25. These prices are good until 12:30 p.m. Jan. 25. Some of the trips have additional fees.

New trips added for this year's event include a beginner and advanced mountain biking, canoe camping 101, the Hot Chocolate 5K, a girls only caving adventure, and many others.

For more information, call the park at 606-286-4411.

It's a bird; it's an ugly drone; it's Mothman ... it's actually a bird

With a seven-foot-long wingspan, the four-foot-tall Sandhill Crane has been mistaken for a lot of things, and many think was actually what folks saw flying in the night and described as a "Mothman."

Come and see for yourself as Barren River Lake State Resort Park in Lucas, Kentucky, will host its Sandhill Crane tours on two weekends in late January 2018.

Thousands of sandhill cranes make Barren River Lake a winter stop as they congregate in huge numbers to migrate.

Barren River offers van tours for guests to learn more about these intriguing birds with a unique sound. The tours will be Jan. 20-21 and Jan. 27. Registration is required due to limited seating.

Registration is $45 per adult and $30 per child 8-12 years old (must be at least 8 years old to go on van tours). The fee includes all educational sessions, a box lunch and a T-shirt. Free guided nature hikes are also available at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Jan. 20 and 27.

Discounted senior tours for guests ages 55 and older will be Jan. 24 at $40 per person.

For more information contact Kody Thompson at kody.thompson@ky.gov or call 270-646-2151.

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Source : http://www.herald-dispatch.com/features_entertainment/from-skiing-to-hiking-caving-and-more-winter-fun-awaits/article_e972fb61-06b2-593a-ba70-9d2e0d24de73.html

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