Winter sports fuel fire of adventure travel

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The number of travelers planning trips around adventure activities has increased by an estimated 65 percent every year since 2009, according to a report last year from the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Cold winter months only seem to fuel the fire, particularly in the western United States, where travelers are taking up activities like snow kiting and heli-skiing.

Add to that list snow biking. The sport, which requires so-called fat bikes, with wide low-pressure tires to maneuver over ice and snow, allows tourists relatively easy access to back-country areas.

Although it has been around for a while, snow biking has increased in popularity in the past few years as companies like Borealis and Surly have begun making new fat bike models.

"Last year, the owners of the Flagstaff Nordic Center bought one bike, to kind of check it out," said Joanne Hudson, a spokeswoman for the Flagstaff, Ariz., Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This year, they bought a fleet of 24."

Rentals in Colorado are also becoming more prevalent, said Carly Holbrook, a spokeswoman at the Colorado Tourism Office, owing in part to an abundance of classes and clinics making snow biking more accessible to those with less experience. And outfitters such as Teton Mountain Bike Tours in Jackson Hole, Wyo., are leading guided fat bike excursions this winter, some with a winter wildlife-watching bent.

Winter bike races are also popping up in the West, Ms. Holbrook said, another indicator of the sport's growing popularity. The inaugural Colorado Fat Bike Championship in Como, Colo., on Jan. 25 is part of a six-race series spanning many of the Western states.


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