Renowned as a destination for summer vacationers for multiple decades and generations, Cody Yellowstone in the northwest corner of Wyoming offers some compelling reasons to visit in winter.
“Whether you have two weeks or two hours, we have a winter activity for you,” said Ryan Hauck, director of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm of Cody Yellowstone. “And you’re likely to share a chairlift, trout stream or trail with locals as they enjoy our offerings and recharge their batteries.”
Wyoming’s rugged landscape, mountainous terrain and open spaces are perfect for winter adventures. Here are some examples:
Alpine Skiing. Sleeping Giant is one of the oldest alpine ski areas in the country. First opened in the winter of 1936-37 and situated just outside of Yellowstone National Park in the stunning Absaroka Mountain Range, the hill features 900 vertical feet and 184 acres of skier and rider-accessible terrain. The resort has a total of 49 runs, a base elevation of 6,619 feet, vertical drop of 810 feet and average snowfall of 150 inches.
An interesting feature is a terrain park with quarter pipes, rails, boxes and jumps. The terrain park – designed for both skiers and snowboarders – remains one of only a few in the country that was constructed almost entirely of materials found on the hill.
New options at Sleeping Giant for the 21/22 season include expanded lighting for night skiing, SnoGo bikes for mountain bike enthusiasts and tubing for the family thrill seekers.
Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing. There are more than 30 miles of groomed trails between Sleeping Giant Ski Area and Pahaska Tepee Resort at Yellowstone’s East Gate. Skiers and snowshoers can bring their own lunches or purchase a hot lunch at the Grizzly Grill located in the friendly lodge at Sleeping Giant. Equipment can be rented in town. The Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park operated by the Meeteetse Recreation District and located 22 miles southwest of Meeteetse offers more than 15 miles of groomed trails ranging from the gentle South Fork Trail to the challenging Brown Creek Trail. There is no fee for skiing, but donations are encouraged to support trail maintenance. There are also numerous cross country ski trails located in Yellowstone National Park.
Skating. Outdoor ice-skating is available at Homesteader Park in Powell, and indoor skating is offered at the Victor J. Riley Arena and Community Events Center in Cody. Both locations provide ice skate rentals. Outdoor skating at Homesteader Park is equipped with night lighting and a warming house. Skate rentals and concessions are available on the weekends.
Snowmobiling. Winter adventurers who like to feel the rush of cool air on their faces will find a special thrill in the region. There are plenty of places to explore throughout the forestlands outside the park borders on snowmobiles throughout the Beartooth Mountains. Gary Fales Outfitting provides winter snowmobile excursions inside Yellowstone National Park.
Catch – and release – a trout. Cody Yellowstone features some of the best blue-ribbon trout stream fishing in North America, and the fish do not know it is winter. Professional fishing guides and outfitters accommodate anglers of any ability.
Hiking. Depending on the level of snow and the location, it is possible to enjoy a cold-weather hike with snowshoes or regular hiking boots. Cody Pathways is a system of multi-use trails surrounding the town. Travelers need not go far before they are in prime wildlife viewing territory. The road from Cody to the East Gate of Yellowstone is full of wildlife-viewing opportunities. It is not unusual to spot moose, bison, elk, eagles and bighorn sheep.
Ice routes can be found in the North and South Forks of the Shoshone, the region to the west of the town. The South Fork of the Shoshone is home to the highest concentration of frozen waterfalls in the United States, with more than 200 climbable pitches within a 10-mile radius. Cody is home to plenty of long moderate and advanced ice routes offering a memorable experience for climbers of all abilities.
Commercially guided ice climbing made its debut in 2011 in Shoshone National Forest outside of Cody, Wyo. as the National Forest Service issued the first permits to outfitters to lead ice-climbing trips.
The region is comprised of porous volcanic soil that allows for easy water seepage. The mountains receive large amounts of snow that melts into a high number of drainages. These factors result in spring-fed waterfalls that are constantly regenerating themselves and freezing into high-quality ice climbs. Climbers are still discovering new waterfalls in the region, and some have made dozens of “first ascents” over the past few years.
With most of its visitation occurring during the warm weather, Cody/Yellowstone offers plenty of available accommodations during the cooler weather. It is home to an array of motels, Bed and Breakfasts, luxury hotels, boutique inns and cabins. A complete listing of lodging can be found online.