If you can bear to part with your flip-flops and baggie shorts for a bit, there’s plenty of wide open spaces to make your body’s own natural high. If you want to beat the winter blues, one of the best things to do in the Badlands in winter is getting outside

A “runner’s high” beats winter blues

If you think you feel good after a summer bicycle ride, hike, run, or exercise, you ain’t felt nuthin’ yet!  The high you experience, sometimes called “runner’s high” is incredible in the winter.

For the Nick and Lindsey Ybarra family, outdoor adventures involve everyone, starting early in life.

Have you ever seen fat bike riders after a winter’s Badlands ride?  Their smiles are YUGE!

Exercising outside in the winter means you get all the benefits of summer exercise – and more. The cold stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin, those “feel good” chemicals that keep us happy, feeling good and that ease depression.

Cross Country Skiing on a snowmobile track in the North Dakota Badlands

A snowmobile left tracks on the Little Missouri River ice which made a perfect path to use cross-country skiing.

Cold weather exercise is good for the entire family. Kids, giggling, laughing having fun is an additional benefit.




Ideas to try

In the Badlands, you can:

  • Hike
  • Run
  • Snowshoe
  • Cross country ski
  • Bicycle ride
  • Anything that gets your heart rate up for several minutes.
    A group of snow shoers trek through the North Dakota Badlands.

    A group from Watford City got together at the CCC Campground south of the TRNP North Unit to snowshoe together. The annual Poco Loco Frio accommodates children and adults, newbies and pros. Click here to read more.

Group fun

Group activities in the Badlands are scheduled all winter. You can socialize and exercise.  Some of the groups make it a point of welcoming in newbies, helping them with gear and ideas to get you started.

Group activities can be found here on the calendar.

The Maah Daah Hey group also posts events on the Maah Daah Hey trail between Medora and Watford City.

Keep it safe.

Here are a few simple tips for exercising in the cold:

  • Make sure you are hydrated. It’s easy to think you don’t need to drink water.
  • Wear layers that you can peel off as necessary. The layer next to your skin should wick away moisture to the next layer. The outer layer should be windproof to keep the wind from getting through the fabric.
  • Wear a hat and gloves.
  • Insulate your face, fingers, and toes because they are the first to get frostbitten.
  • Beware of ice. (I’ve had a few slips out there myself.) 

More ideas — but less exercise

Want more ways to beat cabin fever, get out of the house and do things this winter?  Check out Part 1 — Coffee Road or Part 2 — Socialize!

What’s that you say? You’re already exploding your endorphins?  Great! Let’s show others. Send us your pics to share with others to prove you can get outside in the Badlands in winter. Comment below.

Who needs encouragement to get outside and exercise? Share it with them with a simple click of the “share buttons,’ then you both can get outside to get a “runner’s high.” 


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