A view of Lake Tahoe from the top of Chickadee Ridge, a scenic spot located in Washoe County, Nevada.

A view of Lake Tahoe from the top of Chickadee Ridge, a scenic spot located in Washoe County, Nevada. Emilie Rodriguez/The Nevada Sagebrush

Finding alternative ways of entertainment during the pandemic has been a big challenge to many, but living in Reno, Nev., people have the Sierra Nevada Mountains to call home. Not only are there great hikes in the summer, but getting outdoors for winter activities can help if you are experiencing cabin fever this winter. 

We are right in the middle of flu season, and with the pandemic looming, here are five COVID-19 friendly winter activities which can be enjoyed by students and faculty alike: 

1. Ice Skating

There are currently two places in Reno offering ice skating experiences for the entire family. The Grand Sierra Resort resides about three miles away from the University of Nevada, Reno, and has sessions starting at 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday. COVID-19 precautions include wearing a face mask at all times during your session, with only 50 skaters on the ice at any given time. The GSR recommends reserving your time online, as the spots can fill up fast on the weekends. If you plan to skate with your friends on the weekdays, you can get away with a walk-in and no online reservation. 

The second edition to the ice skating scene is Reno Ice, a new facility located in the Huffaker Hills off of Longley Lane. Reno Ice had their grand opening on Jan 18. with public sessions and classes held throughout the week. Unlike the Grand Sierra Resort, Reno Ice requires all to sign up for the events schedule and make a reservation before coming in. Due to pandemic precautions, all scheduling is done online with 50 skaters on the ice at any given time. Reno Ice does give a more diverse skating scene to Reno. Not only are figure skating classes taught at the new rink, but if you’re interested in hockey, you can enjoy that as well.

Checking out both Reno Ice and the GSR would be a great excuse to get out of the house and still respect COVID guidelines. 

2. Skiing and Snowboarding 

How can one not take advantage of the many ski resorts Northern Nevada has to offer. While this outdoor activity leans towards the more expensive side of things, you can take advantage of feel-good friday deals at a variety of resorts this season. Boreal Mountain California has a $25 Friday deal on select dates that you won’t want to miss. Family-friendly mountains such as Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Diamond Peak Ski Resort and Squaw Valley Resort have great runs that are well suited for beginners. Skiers and Boarders can also enjoy Heavenly Ski Resort and Northstar California Resort with their long runs that are quite the calf burners. These are only a few of the local mountains you can hit before the snow melts towards the end of April. 

Each of these resorts handles their pandemic policies in their own way, but masks are universal across the board and social distancing is required. 

Check the mountain’s website at least a couple of days before you go so you know the COVID requirements and to make a reservation. If you go up to the mountain in hopes of buying a ticket on the spot, you will be driving down that mountain without a ski day. Online reservations are the way to go unless you’ve previously acquired a season pass.  

3. Snowshoeing

If you are itching to get a good workout and some outdoor fun, then snowshoeing awaits you. Virtually anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to incorporate friends, family and four-legged companions in an outdoor activity. You can rent snowshoes or buy them from most local sporting good stores. Snowshoeing is inexpensive and very rewarding. The Tahoe Meadows located in South Lake Tahoe is the most notable place to hike with snowshoes, and if you bring birdseed you might just catch a glimpse of the famous Chickadee birds on Chickadee Ridge. The Tahoe Meadows also has a great view of Lake Tahoe if you reach the summit of the mountain, so make sure to bring a camera and a snack for a fun snowy day-trip. The best part about snowshoeing is that it’s in Reno’s backyard, so catch the snow before it melts. 

4. Sledding 

Sledding is another cost-effective way to spend your winter days outside. Buy a cheap plastic sled from Walmart, grab a couple of friends and take a trip up to any mountain with a touch of snow. The Tahoe Meadows also offers a great sledding hill, but if you want another adventure, Boreal Mountain California has Tahoe Tubing. If you grab your tickets online, you can tube down a snowy hill located in Soda Springs, CA. 

5. Snowmobiling

In ending our outdoor winter list, you can give Snowmobiling a shot this season. While it’s on the more expensive side of things, Snowmobiling offers an exhilarating time as you Tokyo drift your way through snowbanks and carved out trails. There are a variety of snowmobiling tours in Tahoe but make sure to reserve your spot online as they do fill up fast. Luckily, everyone is pretty much socially distant while snowmobiling, and as long as you are wearing a mask you can easily follow the COVID precautions. 

Emilie Rodriguez can be reached at emilier@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @emilieemeree.