Recreating on a Dime 

Having fun outdoors doesn't have to break the bank

With the economy limping back from a rough couple of years, most people have had to reevaluate how they go about having fun. Many folks have even elected to give up their favorite recreational haunts until things get back on a reliable footing. If you are one of those people, there is hope. It comes in the form of the following budget-minded thrills that give credence to the old adage "the best things in life are free ... or at least cheap." Give 'em a try: You may be pleasantly surprised.

click to enlarge JULIA GREEN

Frisbee Golfing

Can you throw a Frisbee? Do you like to drink beer in the park? Bundle up and jump on the Ann Morrison Park winter Frisbee golf course. Weather permitting, this is one of the best spots to get some fresh air and test your hand-eye coordination. This 20-hole wonder starts and ends near the Americana Bridge and takes one to two hours to complete. Discs run $10-$15 each, and many people use just a single driver to play the entire course. If you don't loose your disc in one of the many course hazards, $10 could go a very long way. More info is available at: cityofboise.org/departments/parks.

click to enlarge JULIA GREEN

Boise Bicycle Project

Spend a few evenings this winter learning how to spiff up that old Schwinn for some spring riding ... or better yet, get that pony outfitted as your winter commuter. The good folks at BBP host open-shop hours a few days a week when patrons can work on bikes, donate gear, buy parts, volunteer or just chat with fellow cyclists. These people know bikes, so it's a great place to learn how to keep your ride running smoothly. More info: boisebicycleproject.org.

click to enlarge JULIA GREEN

Snowshoeing

Yes, snowshoeing is quite literally walking around in the snow, but it's an excellent way to get above the inversions that cloak Boise every winter. There are hundreds of great spots to snowshoe around the Treasure Valley. Novices should generally stick to well-established trail systems, while advanced trekkers routinely tie in various other mountain activities including snow camping and skiing. Be prepared for the terrain that you might come across and be aware of the capabilities of your gear. There are several different types of snowshoes, ranging from beginner to full-blown back-country setups, each with a different fit and function. You can rent gear from any number of local shops or purchase a setup for $50-$300, plus the cost of a good pair of warm boots.

click to enlarge JULIA GREEN

Take a Hike

Winter hiking can be just the right activity after a long day at work. Boise residents enjoy fantastic access to some wonderful little spots thatoffer both peace, quiet and a decent workout. If you decide to hoof it out on a single track, be sure that the trails are completely frozen and open for use. Some local favorites include the Tablerock system (often closed, so check ahead of time), the Military Reserve/Sandstone trails and Camels Back/Lower Hulls Gulch area. Also, you can't go wrong with a good old-fashioned holiday walkabout through downtown Boise.

click to enlarge JULIA GREEN

XC Skiing

If you're looking for a great way to keep fit this winter, cross-country skiing might be right up your alley. Way cheaper ($129 for aseason pass at Bogus) and more fun than a gym membership, Nordic skiing is the wintertime equivalent of trail running. There are two common styles, classic and skate skiing.

Most folks can pick up the classic technique on their own, however, a lesson or two is advised to ensure that you are doing it correctly. Skate skiing is generally higher intensity and requires considerably more practice to become proficient. You can rent gear locally or purchase a good used setup (skis, boots, bindings, poles) for less than $150.Now that the weather has officially turned funky, get out there and make the most of it. A glass of egg nog will taste all the better after a little play time.

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