5 Must-Do Winter Adventures in Western Wyoming

The ice is fat in the South Fork Valley.
The ice is fat in the South Fork Valley. Cody Ice Climbing Festival
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Winter in Wyoming can make life difficult for outdoor lovers. Wind and blowing snow make you want curl up by the fire instead of venturing forth. But the weather in the mountains can be completely different than that in town, and there are plenty of days when conditions are perfect for adventure. Plus, winter is the one season you don't have to worry about spooking a grizzly bear.

Here are five bucket-list winter adventures in Western Wyoming that will help you not only just get through the winter, but enjoy it.

1. Ski Under the Stars: Moonlight Skiing at Pahaska 

Skiing at night is a whole new experience.
Skiing at night is a whole new experience. Park County Nordic Ski Association

The Park County Nordic Ski Association is hosting two moonlight ski and snowshoe events on January 23 and February 22 at Pahaska Tepee Resort, 50 miles west of Cody. Skiing at night is a completely unique experience, even on trails you’ve skied for years. Darkness combined with exceptional quiet enhances your senses and sharpens your skills, especially when a moose decides to cross your path. You might even hear the North Fork wolf pack calling. Bring your skis (no rentals at Pahaska) and headlamps.

2. Enjoy Opening Day Fun at Sleeping Giant Ski Area

This is Cody's hometown ski hill.
This is Cody's hometown ski hill. Sleeping Giant Ski Area

The Giant awakens from its summer slumber on December 12 with the Sleepy G Jamboree. This is a full day of fun on the slopes of Cody’s beloved local downhill area. The annual torchlight parade tops off a day of activities. Make sure you don’t go home hungry: Grab a bowl of chili and enjoy the bonfire before checking out the s’more station. Sleeping Giant is located on the North Fork Highway 50 miles west of town.

3. Ski to the South Fork Cabin

Perfect conditions at Wood River.
Perfect conditions at Wood River. Penny Miles

There are more than 25 kilometers of groomed trails at the Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park just 30 minutes west of Meeteetse. Make this a weekend adventure by renting the furnished South Fork Cabin for $20/night. It’s a gentle, three-mile ski into the cabin through quiet forests and aspen groves. From there, you’ll have miles of backcountry to explore. Be sure to pick up the key to the cabin before leaving Meeteetse. Gear rentals are available through the town recreation district.

4. Ski and Sample at Taste of the Trails at Pahaska

Enjoy dinner out on the trails just east of Yellowstone.
Enjoy dinner out on the trails just east of Yellowstone. Park County Nordic Ski Association

February 6 marks the third anniversary of this activity, which is rapidly becoming one of the biggest events of the season. Last year tickets sold out early, so get yours before the price goes up after January 9. This ski progressive dinner begins at the wrangler’s hut next to Pahaska Tepee's main lodge and entices diners along the trails with a warming fires and food rewards at each station. The trail is perfectly suited for beginner skiers, and what better way to get kids on the snow than with the promise of food as well as hot chocolate and dessert at the end?

5. Climb a Frozen Waterfall at Cody’s Ice Climbing Festival

The ice is fat in the South Fork Valley.
The ice is fat in the South Fork Valley. Cody Ice Climbing Festival

Some of the best ice climbing in the world happens to be a little under an hour drive southwest of Cody. There are more than 300 frozen waterfalls gracing the sheer walls of the South Fork Valley, and come President’s Day weekend, groups of climbers will be pounding ice axes and crampons into many of them. This festival caters to experienced as well as newbie climbers with clinics and competitions throughout the weekend. Limited demo gear is available to registered attendees.

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