By T.B. Yerden
Wyoming is a juggernaut when it comes to high-quality ski destinations. Serious skiers flock in droves to the touted Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee for world-class skiing opportunities. With magnificently groomed trails and stunning resorts, Wyoming makes for a memorable ski vacation for the entire family. Check out the limitless opportunities at these incredible family ski destinations in Wyoming.
Jackson is a hot spot for snow lovers. The conditions and terrain are both ample and challenging, a mix of ruggedness and familiarity. And the amenities and service industry infrastructure are world-class. Not only is terrain challenging enough for experts, the varied topography and wealth of top-notch staff make it an ideal family getaway. If parents want to explore the mountain on their own, the ski school, with expert and attentive instructors, will keep the kids entertained and excited about the snow. Events on and off the mountain entail the entire family, especially children, from discounted tickets & rentals to dining and ice skating packages. There’s even a kid-exclusive trail map, with fun alternative names for runs, and the routes for an enjoying them.
Grand Targhee is a mountain of renowned quality, in terms of snowfall, terrain for all skill levels, first-class lodging and activities for ski-loving families. These slopes have a host of vacation packages curtailed to short, medium, and extended stays. For one, if staying on the mountain for three nights, kids under age 12 ski absolutely free (under five is always complimentary). As with other quality resorts, the ski lesson program is stellar, with scheduling and prices amendable to any itinerary. There’re “mini moose” courses for toddlers, and the “powder scouts” groups teens of appropriate skill levels for a day of ski exploration. And for a limited time, if staying for three consecutive nights, take advantage of the “fourth night free.”
Like so many ski resort towns, Centennial is otherwise sparsely inhabited, in a beautiful stretch of wilderness (the Medicine Bow in this case). Though significantly smaller than some competitors, Snowy Range’s affordability and proximity to the University of Wyoming makes it a family-friendly and locally-loved destination, be it a weekend or extended holiday. Slightly smaller crowds make for numerous opportunities for hands-on instruction and fun for kids. And with free lift tickets for those under five, and the adult day-pass topping-out at $49, affordability is the greatest asset here. While lodging is more limited, a handful of charming guest ranches and cabins are available, with all the national chains in nearby Laramie (30 miles away). This ski area is a good median between small-town local and glitzy mega-resort.
Another medium-sized ski area in a historic Wyoming town, Sleeping Giant is equally impressive at nearly 80 years-old. A family-run institution at its founding, the name couldn’t be more appropriate: The potential of this singularly beautiful area, with professionally-sculpted and staffed ski runs, is itching to awaken. Though shorter than a Jackson Hole (about 800 vertical feet), the accessibility and manageable crowds make for plenty of runs before day’s end. For families, the ski and ride school is affordable and customizable to any age or skill level (from “little giants” to “giant shredders”). And the after-ski activities at the lodge are fun as well, especially the plethora of clinics on “Sunday Funday.” The icing on the cake: lift tickets peak at $38 for adults and $18 for kids.
Proudly perched atop Mount Casper, just outside the town of the same name, Hogadon is a friendly and welcoming small-scale ski area. Specifically, it’s cheap, and hosts a surprising number of activities geared towards families. With 600 vertical feet and only a double-chair, this hill is obviously intimate. But this basin is employed to its full potential, both in terms of its trail system and the impressive availability of rental equipment and instruction. And unique to Hogadon, its public status means families and businesses can rent/host parties on the hill! So, gather the family, gather the troops, and race over to Casper for opening day, Dec. 15.
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This unique mountain gives a pleasantly-positive spin to “riding the pine” (their slogan). At Pine Creek, there are two underlying focuses that make it attractive. First, this slope’s all about skiing as it “used to be.” In an age of corporate ski behemoths and monolithic resort facades, this neighborhood hill is refreshing: affordable lift tickets, minimal crowds, unpretentious but comforting decor and down-to-earth staff. Secondly, this area makes use of this nostalgic quality, appealing to families looking for an uncomplicated, non-intimidating ski vacay. The “family pass” is the way to go, which, during high season, runs only $725 (not a bad deal for two parents and two children)!
Surrounded by miles of untamed forest service wilderness, Meadowlark is a pristine and comfortable ski lodge nestled in the Bighorn Range. And this operation capitalizes on its welcome isolation, offering affordability and unpretentious professionalism. Big-name hotels and fancy lodges are replaced by cabins and a single restaurant & bar at the base of the hill. Here, you’ll find down-to-earth local instructors. And with adult lift tickets at $48, and kids at $30, this mountain’s comparably small trail system is an easy concession.
Skiing in America really took-off after the Post-War period. And White Pine beat many to the punch. Opened in 1940, on Fortification Mountain, this 25-run slope boasts unique, high-elevation terrain that both challenges experts and welcomes kids and first-timers. A mecca for fishing, hunting, and backpacking during the summer, the Pinedale area blooms into a burgeoning downhill and cross-country skiing environment come snowfall. With an attractive $48 price tag for adults, and with affordable accommodations nearby, this mountain successfully blends familiarity with welcomingly mid-level amenities. Rentals and ski school sessions won’t break the bank, leaving more peace of mind to absorb the scenery (and the moguls).