Wyoming's Winter Choices Bring It Home On The Range, In The Mountains
Wyoming is among the largest, least populated and geographically diverse states in the Union, meaning if you don't mind putting on some miles, you will find just about any kind of skiing and snowboarding you want.
Most skiers and riders know that the mighty Grand Tetons host major skiing and snowboarding slopes. Jackson Hole has long been a bucket-list destination, albeit an expensive one. Its 2,500 acres and 4,139 feet of vertical is home to renowned steeps, like Corbet's Couloir. A tramway delivers to the summit where an array of bowls, chutes and famed Hogback ridges that corn up in the spring.
Weather can get severe, with north-trending storms latching onto the Tetons and high winds funneled by the Snake River valley. Regulars say that snow can go from powder to slush and back in a matter of hours.
For those looking for a bit less glitz, just up the road sits Grand Targhee near the Wyoming-Utah border. It's big -- 2,220 vertical on 2,700 skiable acres -- and sprawls beneath two 9,800-foot peaks. Powderhounds head to the short, steep chutes on the upper mountain, but it's the cruisers who get most of the hill (70% blue) to carve. Plus, location draws an average of 500 inches a year.
Lesser known in the northern Wyoming Rockies are Sleeping Giant just east of Yellowstone National Park in true cowboy town Cody, and White Pine and Pine Creek tucked away on the southern arms of the Tetons. The latter two fall into the mid-sized, local/family category; White Pine was once known as White Pine Family Ski Area, and Pine Creek is only open Friday-Sunday.
If a "locals' hill" appeals, trundle over the Snow King for the most extravagant townie bump in the West. It's got 1,500 of vertical on just 500 acres, and the only gondola on a town hill in the West. Plus, the city has turned the base area into a full-on recreation area.
A number of isolated mountain ranges dot the eastern High Plains of the state. These are remnants of ancestral Rockies that have eroded more slowly than the surrounding landscapes. However, they are high enough to get consistent snowfall for skiing and riding -- all with a homey feel, lots of night skiing, municipal and non-profit ownership, and few crowds.
Antelope Butte and Meadowlark Ski Lodge in the Bighorns (a rare same-day pairing in this part of the state), Laramie's home hill Snowy Range in the Medicine Bow range, and Hogadon on the northern tip of the Laramie Mountains outside Casper. The latter has experienced a renaissance as the city has committed public funding like Jackson has for Snow King.
As a sidelight, Beartooth Basin is one of two places in the U.S. with lift-served summer skiing.