Sleeping Giant, Cody’s popular community ski hill, is ready to awaken for another great season. This venerable ski resort has been hosting winter enthusiasts since the winter of 1936-37.
Named after the mountain across the highway, which resembles a reclining giant perhaps taking a snooze, the area got its start with a group of family and friends and a primitive tow rope. The Dahlem family, who owned the Shoshone Lodge and Guest Ranch near the ski area, started playing around with slopes and skis back in the 1930s. Harry Dahlem even went so far as to build a jump near the lodge and went on to compete in ski jumping in the region.
While there aren't any jumps today, the resort, which was taken over by a nonprofit in remains a beloved destination for local snow lovers and their families. In 2009, the ski area was taken over by a nonprofit in Cody and still provides a wonderful family experience today. Here, five reasons to make sure Sleeping Giant is on your to-do list this winter.
1. Getting there is half the fun.
From Cody, the 45-minute drive to Sleeping Giant is one of the premier drives in western Wyoming. The North Fork Highway offers the best scenery this side of Yellowstone, as well as prime wildlife watching. Chances are excellent of catching glimpses of elk and mule deer while literally dodging grazing bison and bighorn sheep on the road. Check out the willow stands for a lounging moose or two. Weird volcanic rock formations and the high peaks of the Absaroka Mountains grace the highway all the way to the ski hill, so even if you aren’t strapping on the boards for a day of fun, take in the sights with a drive and lunch at the lodge.
2. A no-bro vibe.
Looking for a fun, family-friendly day on the slopes minus hordes of testosterone-fueled, GoPro-wearing skiers and riders bragging about their latest black-diamond conquests? Sleeping Giant is just the spot, with a laid-back atmosphere and easy-to-navigate terrain that makes it a prime chance to start letting little ones explore on their own a bit. Most beginner trails and terrain park are within sight of the lodge, so parents can keep track of their downhill demons. There’s plenty to do for all ages, including the magic carpet for the smallest skiers and 21 trails for black diamond junkies.
In addition, runs are fairly short, with kids popping into view to get back on the lifts several times each hour. Lift operators also do a good job of keeping their eyes on kids skiing without an adult.
“A day at the resort is perfect for my family," says Jen Talich, a Yellowstone Recreations Foundation board member. "It’s small enough that I can let my older kids go off by themselves, because I know I’ll see them at least once an hour. The lodge staff and lift operators know everyone by name. You start recognizing families from all over the Basin.”
3. Lift tickets that won't break the bank.
With lift tickets for adults at a refreshingly affordable $34 and kids' prices at just $16, this is skiing that doesn't require you to take a second mortgage out on your home to enjoy a season on the slopes. Plus, you'll get plenty of bang for your buck: The resort has more than 180 acres of skiable terrain and 47 runs serviced by three lifts. By comparison, lift tickets at Red Lodge and Big Sky, Montana are priced at $53 and $106 for adults and, across the state at Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee, they're a whopping $120 and $75.
4. Great Programs and Events
Beyond the everyday skiing, Sleeping Giant hosts standout programs and events each season. Take your pick of terrain park competitions, downhill races, ski team performances, and new freestyle programs. All are supplemented by great coaches, fun and knowledgeable instructors, and a lodge with a cozy, inviting atmosphere.
5. New runs and terrain for the 2015-2016 season.
Each season, Sleeping Giant adds something new to keep locals coming back. This year, the resort opened several new runs as the result of clearing dead timber off parts of the mountain. In addition, the ski area boasts two terrain parks with a new freestyle program starting this winter, in response to the exploding popularity of freestyle skiing among young locals. The result of these additions appeals to a broader base of skiers and riders: The more technical upper park's boxes, jumps, and rails make use of natural features and dead trees, while the lower terrain park is perfect for beginners with smaller, less intimidating features.