Down the slopes on skis or a snowboard at full speed, through beautiful winter landscapes at one’s own pace, or just trying out something new, such as snow kiting: NRW is a proper winter sports state! Not only does it contain the largest winter sports area north of the Alps, it also has many smaller regions that are great for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and, of course, tobogganing. Hobby athletes and pros will love it equally.
The Largest Winter Sports Area North of the Alps
You don’t need to go all the way to the Alps for skiing. NRW has many options for getting active outside in winter. The Wintersport-Arena Sauerland even is considered the most important winter sports region north of the Alps! More than 120 slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and sledding are available there alone. Two thirds of them are covered in artificial snow at need, provided that the temperatures are below freezing. This has the benefit of clearly increasing the number of snow days as compared to slopes that rely on natural snow exclusively. Winter sports are possible from December to March here in most years. That’s rather unusual for a German low mountain range.
Many slopes in the Sauerland come with another advantage, too: Not only do they offer skiing during the day, but the slopes continue to be operated in the evening, an option made possible by about 60 floodlit ski slopes. Tobogganers will find two dedicated lit tobogganing slopes as well. The concept is so popular that the ski resort auditors declared the Skiliftkarussell Winterberg the best floodlit ski area in an international comparison!
Of course, the Wintersport-Arena, including not only the ski areas in the Hochsauerland and the Olpe district but also some areas in the Siegen-Wittgenstein region in Hessian Willingen, also has something to offer for cross-country skiers. The cross-country ski trails cover more than 400 kilometres and are groomed for conventional and free techniques.
Snow Tubes and Snowboard
Down the Hill at Breakneck Speed
However, it’s also fun to just dash down the mountains on snow tubes. Snow tubes are thick, air-filled tyres that spin during the rapid downhill race. They are not allowed on all slopes in order to avoid collisions between snow tubers and skiers. Dedicated slopes and even rental options can be found, among other places, in Olpe and Medebach, on the Neuastenberg and in the Snow World Züschen.
Neuastenberg also has a paradise for snowboarders in store. The Funpark Postwiese was set up specifically for them. It is intended in particular for advanced and practiced athletes, though it also sports an easy line for beginners. The floodlights come on several times per week here as well, creating a very special atmosphere when snowboarding.
Winter Sports in Smaller Areas
Eifel, Bergisches Land, and Teutoburg Forest
The Wintersport-Arena is, without doubt, North Rhine-Westphalia’s largest winter sports region. Nevertheless, there are also many smaller areas skiers will enjoy. The Eifel, for example, is great for an excursion with the entire family in winter, too. The rather small ski areas not only have affordable lift prices, but also great opportunities for tobogganing. There is a toboggan slope with a dedicated children’s lift outside of the beautiful half-timbered town of Monschau, for example. On top of this, there are several ski lifts and about 60 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails. All in all, about a dozen winter sports areas in the Eifel offer downhill slopes, cross-country trails, and toboggan hills.
The Bergisches Land, just outside the Ruhr area and the large Rhine metropolises of Cologne and Düsseldorf, has also gotten into the winter sports mood. If you can’t quite decide yet whether you prefer downhill skiing, tobogganing, or cross-country skiing, the Blockhaus Belmicke winter sports area is just the place for you as it offers all of these activities: downhill slopes with a T-bar lift can be found as well as dedicated toboggan slopes and cross-country ski trails of various lengths. The equipment to match can be borrowed from the ski or toboggan rental operations. Ski schools are standing ready to teach beginners.
The Bergisches Land also has the Morsbach-Springe-Rom area. It may not be quite as securely snowy there as it is in the Wintersport-Arena, but skiers can enjoy the great conditions well into the evening once 25 centimetres of snow are on the ground. Floodlights are turned on here, too. While there is a dedicated toboggan slope as well, there is no shortage of tobogganing opportunities anyway in the hilly low mountain region.
Cross-country skiers will find a small, but beautiful, offering in Önkfeld, a town that belongs to Radevormwald, as well, where trails spanning nine kilometres can be found. They are machine-groomed every day.
The Extertal is the number one location for winter sports fans in the Teutoburg Forest. Two ski and two sled lifts are operated here while the snow situation is suitable. Floodlight extends the fun beyond sunset here as well. Cross-country skiers can find a marked trail that is groomed at regular intervals.
Winter Sports for Adrenalin Junkies
The taxi bob on the toboggan run in Winterberg goes even faster than traditional winter sports activities. Three people climb into the toboggan with an experience pilot to dash down the ice channel at up to 130 km/h. This particular fun may only last 60 seconds, but the race will surely remain a fond memory for a long time.
Skiing Joy in Any Season
Ski Halls in NRW
Anyone who wants to go skiing in the flat country, too, can get on their boards even in high summer in NRW. Neuss at the Lower Rhine and Bottrop, right in the Ruhr area, offer two ski halls that are open year-round. Its 640-metres-long slope even makes the Alpincenter in Bottrop the world’s longest ski hall!
Both ski halls have beginners’ hills and steep, in part curvy downhill runs for skilled skiers that are even used by German skiing pros. The Alpenpark Neuss also has set up a fun park for free skiers.