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Looking to take a more unorthodox trip and visit a winter wonderland? Check out these “frozen delights” and explore some of the natural wonders that occur only during the winter season.

RELATED: 7 surprisingly valid reasons to love winter

Flickr CC: Junaidrao

Lake Abraham in Banff National Park

Among the snow-capped mountains of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta lies Lake Abraham. During the summer, the lake is not great for swimming as it’s often windy, and very cold. However, if you visit during winter you are in for quite a sight. When the lake has frozen over, you’re able to see what looks like air bubbles. These are not air bubbles, however; rather, they’re methane bubbles. Naturally occurring methane slowly bubbles up and is frozen in place by the bitter cold. Being a windy valley, it is often clear of snow and great for sightseeing, photography, or if you’re up to it, ice skating.

RELATED: 3 perfect days In Banff

Flickr CC: Richard Hoeg

The Ice Caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

This frozen wonder really is a sight to see. Located on Wisconsin’s northern shore with Lake Superior, these ice caves on the Apostle Islands form when winter hits and freezes the lake enough to venture out. What you’ll find is large caverns lined with beautiful icicles much larger than you could imagine. These caverns were formed over thousands of years ago from glaciers; now, wet from waves from Lake Superior they freeze to form the Ice Caves. Before venturing out,  be sure to check on the National Parks website as some of the locations may have unsafe ice.  

Flickr CC: Keith Williams

The Northern Lights

This phenomenon is world famous, seen around the globe from Alaska to Finland, Canada and even sometimes the lower 48 states. Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, illuminate the night sky with all sorts of colors, although green is the most prevalent. This phenomenon is created by solar activity disturbing charged particles that surround the earth. Winter is one of the best times to see these lights and they can only be viewed around the northern (or southern) extremes, including popular viewing destinations such as Alaska, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Finland. That said, make sure to bundle up when you go out to spot the auroras this winter.

ALSO: Another thing you really must see? Rewards, loads of them—only with Orbitz Rewards!

Flickr CC: John Getchel

Sailing Stones of Death Valley

When you think of Death Valley, you may not think winter wonderland or even winter at all, but it is home to the strangest winter phenomenon on this list. The winter nights sure do get cold, cold enough to freeze. When the conditions are right, a small layer of moisture forms a thin ice sheet in some places of the playa (the flat cracked ground of a dry lake bed). Years ago, someone noticed that stones on the playa were moving, and leaving an obvious trail of flattened mud behind it. For years, scientists failed to find an explanation until recently, when a study reported it was ice sheets, millimeters thick, that formed during the cold nights. Add a little wind and the stones go “sailing,” leaving behind a visible path in the playa. With strong winds, the stones can reach a blazing speed of up to 15 feet per minute. 

Flickr CC: Jay Huang

Yosemite’s  “Lava Fall”

If you want to travel to California’s Yosemite National Park, be sure to do so during February to check out this beautiful phenomenon. For most of the year, Horsetail Fall is a beautiful yet ordinary waterfall, but for a few hours each year it transforms into an astounding sight. As the sun sets in mid-February, and if the conditions are just right, the waterfall lights up reflecting a perfect vertical slice of the sun’s rays and appearing as if it’s a “lava-fall.” The temperature around the park is not too cold, even during the winter, so if the cold is not your thing this is a great winter sight to go see.

Flickr CC: Per

Canadian Sun Pillars

This winter light show is visible elsewhere in the world, even in California. However, the most beautiful place to see the sun pillars is in Canada where they form during a single sunrise and flash across the sky. The pillars form when light rays from the sun reflect off ice crystals that are suspended in our atmosphere; when the light hits the ice crystals it’s reflected in a beam of sorts across the sky. The pillars appearing vertical is simply an optical illusion. If you want to see the pillars in Canada, the best times are just before and after sunset and sunrise, when the sun’s light hits at the greatest angle.

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Tagged: Alaska, Canada, Midwest, National Parks, Top 10 Lists

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Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog

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