With the bustle of a full-time job, kids and other obligations, it can be difficult to make time to get away. Most of us are weekend warriors, experiencing new or favorite parts of our state between 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Monday.
Weekend trips can help us feel rejuvenated, but they can also feel rushed as we spend precious moments of our free time planning, packing and driving to remote parts of the state for our favorite outdoor activities.
We're fortunate in Casper to be within an hour's drive of world-class fishing, sandy beaches, miles of all-terrain vehicle trails, hunting and more. But we're perhaps most fortunate to live at the base of Casper Mountain, giving us access to a full-blown mountain retreat in minutes.
No matter the season, there's something for everyone on Casper Mountain. Here's a few things to check out this year.
Casper Mountain features several campgrounds. New to camping? The mountain is the perfect place to dip your toes -- you'll feel like you're 100 miles from home, but will be close enough to pack up and sleep in your own bed if you discover sleeping bags are not your bag.
Even if you're a seasoned camping veteran, sometimes all you really want is to be sitting in your lawn chair enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors, without the hassle of packing for a week. Our proximity to the mountain allows for more spontaneity, which equals more time for relaxation.
Check out these campgrounds: Skunk Hollow, Elkhorn Springs, Tower Hill, Deer Haven, Beartrap
There's nothing quite as rejuvenating as a mountain hike. Our senses are treated to new smells, sounds and sights as we meander along winding trails, never quite knowing what's around the next curve.
A family hike along any Casper Mountain trail can shake up your normal weeknight routine. Talk with your children or significant other about the different types of trees or wildflowers, or take along a birding field guide and see if you can identify some of the birds you're likely to see.
Check out these trails: Braille Trail, Bridle Trail, backcountry hiking in Ponderosa Park
You'll find a sense of community on the mountain with the events that are held there each year. Gather up a group of friends and check out the annual music festival at Beartrap Meadow. Kids of all ages can let their imaginations run wild at the annual summer solstice celebration at Crimson Dawn.
In the winter months you can take in a biathlon competition or attend the annual dog sled races and watch the dogs and mushers in their element. No matter the season, you'll always be able to find an excuse to visit Casper Mountain.
Check out these events: Beartrap Summer Music Festival on Aug. 5-6, summer solstice at Crimson Dawn Park and Museum on June 21, Casper Mountain Sled Dog Races, held each winter
Archers of all skill levels will appreciate the archery range on Casper Mountain. It offers two major courses that wind their way through beautiful aspen groves and up rocky hillsides, offering scenic views at different points in each course.
It also features a target practice range where you can choose from specific distances. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at the range -- there are bathrooms, and the range has its own campground.
Check it out: Adams Memorial Archery Range
Skiing and snowboarding
Whatever your winter sport of choice, Casper Mountain has you covered. The slopes at Hogadon will have you coming back for more year after year. Groomed trails offer a change of pace for Nordic and cross-country skiers and biathletes will find a world-class venue.
If snowshoeing is more your speed, you'll find several places on the mountain to tromp through the snow. The Casper Mountain Trails Center can provide information on the trails to stick to, as well as maps and permits.
Check out these places to ski, snowboard or snowshoe: Hogadon Basin Ski Area, Casper Mountain Nordic Center, Casper Mountain Biathlon Center
For more information on Casper Mountain, visit the Natrona County website.