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""Winter is here, but your outdoor adventures don’t have to end.

There’s a winter wonderland just waiting to be explored in Massachusetts state parks, Wildlife Management Areas, and forests.

Whether you’re interested in hunting, fishing, or camping, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) offer outdoor opportunities and resources to help you enjoy the great outdoors all season long.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing can be a great way to relax and unwind — just bundle up, grab a thermos of warm soup, and drop your line. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has a pond map finder and fishing locations to get you started. Pay attention to local restrictions — most but not all public ponds allow fishing — and be sure to do your own research before heading out on a fishing trip. Here are some general rules and safety tips to keep in mind:

If you’d like to learn the ropes of fishing, MassWildlife and local partners host family ice fishing festivals and other fishing classes throughout the winter. Typically, you can borrow equipment and bait. No experience necessary! Check out the MassWildlife calendar of events to find a free learn-to-fish event near you.

Hunting

DCR allows hunting at most state parks, forests, and reservations across the Commonwealth. DFG’s Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife Conservation Easements are all open to hunting — you can explore them with the MassWildlife Lands Viewer. Check the most recent Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, and Trapping for full listings and dates, but a selection of winter hunting seasons include:

  • Waterfowl (ducks and geese)
  • Snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbit
  • Bobcat and coyote
  • Gray and red fox
  • Opossum and raccoon

Before you set off on a hunting trip, be sure to prepare properly with these tips:

Camping

""With snow on the ground and frost on the trees, off-season camping has a rustic and adventurous quality you can’t find any other time of the year. For the determined outdoor enthusiast, DCR offers winter camping at 8 different locations.

If you’re planning to brave the cold with a winter camping trip, DCR strongly recommends that you do some research and prep work beforehand, because you may need additional or special equipment to handle the colder conditions. If you decide to take on the challenge of off-season camping, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose the Option That Fits You — Know your limits and comfort level. Off-season camping options include hike-in camping experiences, rustic cabins, RV camping with electric hookups, and standard camping with heated bathroom facilities.
  • Plan Ahead — Reservations are required for cabins at Mohawk Trail State Forest, Savoy Mountain State Forest, and Camp Nihan Environmental Education Camp. You can check campsite availability and make camping reservations online or by calling (877) 422-6762. Always contact the park before you arrive — winter campsites may close due to weather conditions.
  • Beware of Extreme Cold — Keep the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s (MEMA) safety tips for extreme cold in mind, and pay close attention to changes in the weather.

There’s no reason a little snow and ice should keep you cooped up inside. For more winter activity ideas, check out 3 activities to keep you moving this winter.

What are your winter adventure plans? Leave a comment below or tweet @MassGov to let us know!

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