Step Outside - Wyoming WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Wyoming 144 144 Sat, 20 Oct 2018 04:06:38 -0500 Best Places to Fish in the Rocky Mountains This Fall Any time is a good time to be outdoors in the Rockies, but considering the fall scenery as the big visual attraction, autumn might be the best time of all for trout anglers. The biggest brown trout of the season start getting frisky and aggressive as their spawning run in regional rivers approaches.

Hot Spots To Fish: Rock Creek, which empties into the Clark Fork River southeast of Missoula, Mt., has become a prime destination for brown trout in recent years. The creek has tons of 16- or 18-inch fish and is known more for numbers than size. Contact John Herzer at Blackfoot River Outfitters (406-542-7411,, or Blue Damsel Lodge, (406-825-3077,, for information about guide services or information regarding accommodations.

If you’re more interested in going after a behemoth of a brown trout, contact Joe Gilsnyder at Trout Stalkers on the Madison in Ennis, Mt.. Joe and his crew of guides know of some fishing holes off the beaten path that harbor bigger fish (406-682-5150).

Tackle You’ll Need: Wherever you wind up fishing, tackle Rocky Mountain browns with a 9 1/2-foot, 6-weight rod such as an Orvis Helios 3. A 5-weight will work if you’re an experienced caster, but a 6-weight handles big streamers better.

Quick Tip: If you make a quartering cast upstream with a Wooly Bugger or similar pattern, let it dead-drift downstream until the current catches it and sweeps it up in the water column. Sometimes the darting motion, as the fly is caught in the current, will trigger a reaction strike from a following brownie.


Best Patterns: Fall browns will take nymphs and small dries such as the Blue-Winged Olive, but more likely the bigger fish will go after Size 2 Sparkle Minnows, Wooly Buggers, Clouser Minnows, Zonkers and Bighorn Specials fished on short leaders with no tippets.

If you’re fishing from a drift boat with a guide, regular weight-forward floating line will suffice. If you’re wading, a sinking-tip line probably is a better choice, depending on depth.

Photograph Courtesy of Montana Office of Tourism Is it the brown trout fishing, or the scenery, that draws anglers to the Rocky Mountain states in autumn? Either answer fits. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
9 Best Archery Outfitters in Wyoming Wyoming is an avid sportsman and woman state with unmatched fishing and hunting opportunities. So it should come as no surprise that the state is a haven for archers. Whether you’re into bow hunting bison and elk or you’re just into practicing your shot, equipping yourself with the right gear is essential. Here are the best archery outfitters in the state.  

Approaching its 20th year, in terms of archery, Absolute is a well-oiled machine. Absolute is tops when it comes to providing top-notch equipment and expert instruction. The beginner and veteran alike will find professional-quality gear, from necessities (bows, sights, strings) to luxurious upgrades. A passionate but approachable staff are avid archers and bow hunters, and happy to dispense knowledge, be it in-store or during a one-on-one lesson. And this shop manages to still maintain a community-centric and down-to-earth mentality amidst a fully stocked and big-city-quality one-stop shop. 

As the name implies, Altitude Outdoors is all about hunting in the rugged backcountry. And their MO: providing high-quality gear and pro service to ensure a successful hunt. With a history in serving sportsmen and sharing a wealth of hunting experience, the staff are icing on an archery-shop cake. The inventory here is comparably impressive, leaning more towards accessories (only a handful of bows are in stock), but this includes optics, broadheads, and the like. 

Rock Springs is prime country for shootin’ arrows. It’s not densely populated, it’s relatively barren and sports an open sky that rivals Montana. Bowlab takes full advantage, focusing on two fine-tuned spheres of the sport: ranges and custom strings. For one, this full-service shooting range features a well-stocked pro shop. This operation has well-trained staff with plenty of expertise, both on the range and in-store. And amateurs needn’t be intimidated: the excellent service makes for an approachable and downright informative experience. Veterans will be equally impressed with the craftsmanship of homemade strings, arrows and customizable accessories.

For over four decades, this family-run sports shop provides a one-stop outdoor sports oasis at the feet of the Bighorn Mountains. Parts, repairs and new gear for cyclists, backpackers and fishermen hangs alongside bows & arrows, quivers and all other mandatory, handcrafted and fine-made archery appurtenances. The staff rounds everything out with a willingness to educate and assist, offering repairs and innovative gear for veterans, or plug-and-play packages for newcomers. And if the impressive selection, experienced service staff and local institution status aren’t enough to persuade, the Sports Lure has the, well, remedy: rent some equipment, try it out. 

This shop is a great local operation, with gear, an archery range, and an album’s worth of happy customers, bow in one hand, trophy in the other. This fully-stocked warehouse is made successful by an attention to quality archery brands and a friendly staff happy to oblige a tour of the facility or answer any number of questions. And the in-house range provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy a lesson, try out a new bow, or knock the rust off. At Bullseye, local doesn’t mean “small:” there’s simply a huge selection of bows, and a massive amount of collective wisdom from the staff. 

In the fishing world, West Laramie Fly is a great go-to, near both university traffic and the beckoning outdoors. But that fish-focus doesn’t mean they haven’t a few archery items in stock. Being a river-centric institution, this shop offers great gear for bow fishing. Arrows, bows, line and stabilizers are all here (for good prices!) alongside a host of apparel and boots for any occasion (outside, of course). And, conveniently, this store is a great place to fuel-up and get a hunting license. 

Working within, Herb Meland is a professional, full-time bow-maker (or bowyer). And he’s the real deal. He sculpts from his own lumber, treated in-house, with a wealth of love, dedication, and the wisdom carved into well-worn hands. In other words, he’s a sword maker for today’s sports samurai. 

The town of Etna is tiny: less than 200 permanent residents. But this fact, and its proximity to inimitable panoramas, makes for good hunting. And the wilderness around the area is chock-full of bow & arrow opportunities. Officially 10 years-old, the Archery Unlimited shop is a welcomed entanglement of ungulate horn racks, displaying some gorgeous, custom bows and accessories (guns & ammo as well). A large cabin of a store, this husband and wife-run operation provides some excellent, down-to-earth service, happily sharing accrued knowledge (and passion!), charming trials & tribulations included. All the name brands are in stock, as are hunting licenses for any season.

RM Discount Sports is statewide. All locations are fully-stocked, with excellent gear for outdoor expeditions of many kinds: fishing, hunting, camping…Any outdoors lover will find the necessities. Being a larger, statewide institution, the store inventory is more breadth than depth, offering something for any sport. The essentials are here, as are last-minute, must-have accessories. And an in-house archery range is useful and fun. This is the best stop for an eclectic group of sports-lovers, be they archers, fishermen, or backpackers.

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A beginner’s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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8 Best Ice Skating Rinks in Wyoming Winter in Wyoming is beautiful. Its renowned wilderness attracts droves of those craving snow-and-ice centered recreation, or a bucolic holiday getaway. For those intent on some ice, with a hockey stick or figure skates, there are a handful of high-quality spots of pristine frozen water. Here are the best ice skating rinks in the state. 

The Jackson area only has one indoor rink, and it’s quite nice. All year round, but especially during wintertime, ice skating and hockey fans descend on the complex. It’s an extremely well-maintained surface, with an open calendar for a number of public skates and host to youth and high school competitive hockey practices. Hockey pucks are as common here as twirling technicians on the ice: all are welcome! An annual pass runs $200, day passes $10, with seasonal discounts and ample equipment for rent. And during the Holidays, this sheet of glass seems a most appropriate escape (and workout!).

While nearby Jackson Hole ski area is supremely attractive for downhill activities, Snow King has a supremely beautiful ace-in-the-hole: ice skating. When families and avid skaters desire some ice time, they head to the sports center for indoor hockey, and practicing of all sorts. But for a picturesque, more bucolic experience, the outdoor rink at the base of the mountain is the way to go. A hot spot for the holiday season, the surrounding beautiful scenery and expertly-groomed slopes serve as backdrop to a memorable ice skating experience. 

Housed within the modern and stylish M&M’s Center, this winter hot spot is key for skating and hockey. Even the Zamboni responsible for the mirror finish on this surface sports the colorful candied mascots. This is yet another well-rounded facility, hosting adult hockey leagues, youth recreational sports and a number of classes multiple times per week. For 13 years, this complex has provided a community service, both in terms of its offering fun and guilt-free entertainment (affordably, at that!), and as a headquarters for the regions competitive winter sports. 

Interestingly enough, an otherwise “Western” town named for Buffalo Bill is big into ice-centric activities like hockey and skating. In fact, the Riley Arena recently hosted a competitive hockey tournament for youth called “Hocktoberfest.” So, needless to say, this complex is more than suited to provide well-maintained ice, a family-friendly atmosphere and rental equipment available within reach. And don’t let the stick-and-puck focus dissuade: both casual free-skating and figure skating courses are always on offer. 

Skating date with these two #iceskating #festivalofwreaths

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Laramie is an outdoors town, and a sports town. For generations, the Laramie Community Center has provided a gathering place for the active, fully-stocked with equipment, amenities and everything from basketball courts to skating rinks. There’re a gym and excellent locker facilities, but come winter, the skating rink is all the rage. If the name weren’t clue enough, this place is centered around community, especially family. Which means accessibility, affordability and unpretentious, straight-fun ice time. 

In warmer months, this recreational center attracts sports lovers and workout fiends of all stripes. It’s a hub for instruction in basketball and volleyball, and they’ve all the spin and Pilates classes of a big-city fitness complex. These focuses and impressive stock of quality equipment and ample facilities smoothly carries into winter. Not only are there classes for youth and adults, a number of wintertime events are charmingly festive: don’t miss “skating with Santa.” And after the ice, the decent locker-room is available for a hot shower, or even better, a steam.

Two Dusters "living the dream"🏒❤

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Housed within the Rock Springs Rec Center, this sports complex is a well-maintained plot of ice, with enough of the necessary amenities to provide a fun (and affordable!) skating experience. While Rock Springs isn’t a postcard destination, for the very nature of its relative remoteness makes this rink a necessary luxury: It provides much needed recreational diversion and a locus for instruction (fitness and hockey classes) and free-skating. When it’s too cold outside in wind-blown Wyoming, bringing the ice indoors never sounded so good. 

This small-town facility is an even smaller community is the home for the area's youth hockey. And this charmingly quaint facility is famous for much more than its hockey and skating (which are stellar, given the town's resources). Douglas is in fact the birthplace of the jackalope myth, the antler-adorned rabbit fabled to roam the prairie. Completely tongue-in-cheek, the town still issues hunting license to tourists for a short, one-day season (June 31). 

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Wyoming There are many idyllic portraits of Wyoming. But among the most memorable are its picturesque wilds, especially the gorgeous rivers that snake and cut through the state’s mountainous curves. Standing amongst these sometimes glassy, sometimes turbulent waters is the wader-laden fisherman. Whether tying a fly line or tossing a weighted sinker, the numerous brooks, creeks, streams, and rivers of Wyoming make for pristine fishing. For all of the appropriate bait, tackle, and other gear, check out these 10 shops. 

Sheridan is one of those welcomingly-nostalgic western towns, still growing and modernizing, but not completely separating itself from the frontier past. Right on Main Street in downtown, Fly Shop of the Bighorns has happily stocked generations of avid fishermen, all the while preserving its unpretentious, rugged and down-to-earth Wyoming mentality. And this store is a true one-stop shop. Want to buy some new “tasty bug” flies, or learn how to make your own? No problem. Need some waders, some pole repair or some new line? They’ve got it. Itching for a guided expedition, with all the gear, know-how and natural beauty one could desire? This shop is happy to oblige. Beginner or veteran, one-day or one-week, a completely new gear setup or just a pair of socks: this store is a full-service warehouse. 

This regionally-renowned shop has blossomed over its 40-year history. Though owner Bob Littlewood has been at the helm throughout its modern incarnation, this store dates to the 1930s. Once a one-room store for intricate, hand-tied flies, this preeminently local labor of love has grown into a one-stop fishing destination, literally providing (almost) anything an angler needs. They’ve the mandatory gear and repair capacity, from rod & reel to bait and line, from waders and boots to shirts, vests and hats. But unique to this location, they’ve also everything else the traveling fisherman needs: gas, food, fishing licenses. It’s all here, and the locals swear by it. And if its pedigreed history of fishing supplies doesn’t suffice, ask any other sportsman: this shop happily supplies hunters, archers and gun-owners as well, all of whom leave this mecca happy, if not just a little bit lighter in the wallet.

When Buffalo Bill fell in love with an area that would become his namesake, he inevitably noticed its bountiful streams, overflowing with a host of salmonids. At an intersection of the Shoshone River and various forks of the Yellowstone, Cody sports a number of guided fishing adventures and the shops to supply them. While North Fork Anglers is guide-centric, the company has an impressive catalogue of provided gear, for rent or purchase. And even though it may not have a warehouse of tools and knick-knacks, the overarching ideals are most attractive: fully-stocked, professional expeditions and an emphasis on respecting and preserving the fragile river ecosystem, a cornerstone in the surrounding biosphere. So, whether one forgot their gear at home, requires gear for a new hobby, or simply wishes to rent and enjoy a river tour, this operation is an unbeatable go-to. 

Long before it titled a recent film, the Windriver Range in Wyoming is one of the most ruggedly beautiful, harsh and isolated wilderness areas in the lower-48. As such, the bounty of fish and game attracts sportsmen nationwide, particularly to its challenging but rewarding forks and tributaries. And like its environs, the gorgeous Dubois area, Marlow’s remains a hidden gem. It’s isolation and well-managed flow of tourism makes any river feels as though it’s one’s own. And this asset requires a well-stocked and well-staffed equipment operation. Top of the line gear, staff instruction and accessories are available, from big items to minuscule repairs, all affordably priced. And if on the rare occasion, a competitor’s price is lower, Marlow’s will “meet it or beat it.” 

A great organization starts with great people, and this spot is comprised entirely of fish-loving experts who live for the river, on the river. It’s large outdoor-gear umbrella encompasses anything camping, hunting and fishing, with all the gear, repairs and advice any amateur or expert would appreciate. Bookended by Yellowstone Park and the Teton Range, the natural bounty makes any outdoor operation lucrative, if not easy, and provides an obvious wealth of headwaters from which to pull fish. And this fly shop will happily oblige any customer, be it with a guided trip with experienced outdoorsmen and women, or a deep-inventory of quality gear, all employee-tested and approved. 

Near the entrance of Grand Teton National Park and renowned for its guided river adventures, Westbank Anglers makes full use of its Jackson Hole-area beauty. While the company takes fishermen on exotic expeditions to the likes of New Zealand and Alaska, the environs of its Wilson location are next-to-none, as is the professional gear on offer. Families needing a starter-kit or river veterans needing a repair or upgrade will both feel welcomed, with an extensive menu of rods, reels, apparel and tech for any fishing adventure, however involved. The most impressive asset here is an experienced staff offering quality gear and time-tested wisdom. 

For over 15 years, the Four Seasons Fly Shop has sated the needs of fishermen in and around Laramie with gear that’s not only quality, but often new and cutting-edge. A unique facet of this operation is the availability of instruction and happy dispensation of advice. While this store boasts all the top-name brands and veteran repair services, in addition to offering licenses and rebates, its classes are an important asset. A host of courses cover a range of fish-centric skill-sets, including fly-tying, casting lessons and private one-on-one instruction. There’s a special sense of accomplishment reeling in the day’s first catch, on a brand-new reel, employing some newfound wisdom from friendly, passionate teachers, all the while surrounded by some of the most enviable wilderness in the United States. 

Gear and advice: that’s what any sportsman is looking for in a good shop. And the Ugly Bug has been doing just that, in spades. This shop is popular in its well-rounded inventory, and convenient in its location: Casper is a thoroughfare that’s easily accessible, full of amenities, and most importantly, a stopping-point for those destined for the outdoors. It’s a great sport oasis prior to tackling the remoteness of Wyoming’s best fishing spots. Despite the tongue-in-cheek name, Ugly Bug’s stock is top-of-the-line and the staff are happy to dispense their stories and recommendations. Whether it’s a pair of polarized sunglasses or mosquito-repellant clothing, or an expertly-crafted fly meant for the season, or an advice-laden story about fishing misadventures, this is fly shop is anything but ugly. 

Johnny’s unpretentious name is entirely appropriate, coming from a locally-loved, one-room space. All the necessities are here, and affordably priced. While many can go to national chains or larger operations for the sleekest, most modern rods and reels, this institution provides an eclectic list of (relative) esoterica. For one, in addition to traditional fly and reel, Johnny’s stocks ice-fishing equipment, a seasonal activity requiring specialty gear. Secondly, this proud shack has a host of live and fresh bait for any aquatic palate.

Snake River Angler is focused on memorable guided trips and the rental equipment required to make these fun and successful. With over 13 rivers to draw from, all of various difficulty, stock and seasonality, this company tailors trips to their clientele. And with a deep well of knowledge, experience and passion, these customizable adventures are eternally enticing. The proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks provides the bucolic backdrop to any fishing inkling, be it a white-water battle to fish for stubborn salmonids, or a leisurely float to cast-and-reel against wily, still-water breeds. And this always entails quality equipment (provided) and a guide that won’t only bolster the experience, but perhaps even impart a little luck. 

Redfish on the brain #landlocked

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8 Best Ski Destinations for Families in Wyoming 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.”

Is your world upside down, or is mine? 📷: @nick.sulzer • 122817 • 💀

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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. 

Jumping my way into 2018 🎿 #gnar #snowyrange 📸: @laurenohare_17

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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. 

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). 

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