About 55 inches of snow has fallen on Casper Mountain this year, and cold temperatures kept most of it around.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, generally one of the snowier places in the state, had received a similar amount as of Tuesday, compared to 122 inches at this time in 2017.
What does that mean for skiers and snowboarders eager to hit the slopes? Resorts will be open.
The two Jackson area resorts – JHMR and Grand Targhee, nestled near Alta – opened Thursday and Wednesday, respectively. Hogadon Ski Area will still likely begin running lifts next week as planned.
“We had a lot of snow and cold weather in October,” said Hogadon manager Chris Smith. “We don’t target to be open until Dec. 1 so it’s hard to change policies. October was very odd. Normally we wouldn’t even start snowmaking until November.”
As for what we will likely see the rest of the season – about the same as we’ve had so far, said Chris Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton.
“Right now, the current trend is tilting toward above normal temperatures and best chance for precipitation will be across the north and northeast part of the state,” he said. “The Bighorns could do well in the general pattern we’ve seen – that is the northwest flow, which gives us quick shots of snow, but not necessarily a big shot.”
Those interested in snowsports can essentially expect a couple nice days followed by a few snowy days followed by some more nice days throughout winter.
The cause is a decided lack of an El Nino – which causes the northern part of the country to be warmer and drier – or La Nina – which can create wetter, colder Wyoming winters, Jones said. Typically this time of year Wyoming would be receiving moisture in the form of snow from the Pacific. Instead we experienced an Alberta Clipper – so named because it drops south from Canada and moves through the northern plains, “clipping” areas east of the Continental Divide. That front is also responsible for the record cold temperatures felt across the state in October.
Wyoming experienced the second-coldest temperatures in October since 1895, Jones said. The rest of the West was similar, with the second-coldest temperatures in Utah and the coldest temperatures Idaho has recorded.
But skiers, snowmobilers, snowboarders and snowshoers should not despair about the potential for a more “normal” winter with short storms. Sometimes, those patterns bringing snow for a couple days and then breaking are all that’s needed to create a solid season, Jones said, including pending storms through mid-December.
No matter the snow, Hogadon will be ready with an expanded terrain park and desire to continue building a family-friendly ski area, Smith said.
Last year, the area sold a record number of season passes, and this year is shaping up to be similar.
For anyone eager to start, the Star-Tribune compiled details on the state’s downhill resorts and useful phone numbers and links for Nordic areas.
Grand Targhee Resort
The resort opened Wednesday with a base of more than 2 feet and almost four feet falling so far this year.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Daily ticket: $98 adult, $72 seniors, $41 juniors 6-12, children under 5 free with a paying adult. More during holidays.
Info: 800-827-4433, www.grandtarghee.com
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
The resort opened Thanksgiving Day with deals for season pass holders to other resorts, discounts for early season and a new Solitude Station for lessons and additional amenities.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Daily ticket: Prices are at the window (discounts online) and vary by date: Adult, $99-170; Seniors 65 and up, $79-140; and children 14 and under, $59-105.
Info: 888-333-7766, www.jacksonhole.com
Meadowlark Ski Lodge
Meadowlark Ski Lodge hadn’t formally announced an opening date by mid-week, but storms are dropping snow on the mountain. Check the lodge’s Facebook page for the quickest updates.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and more days during the Christmas holiday
Daily tickets: Senior more than 70 years old, free. Adult 65-69 and active military $40. Adult, $48. Youth 13-18, $40. Child, $30. Five and under are free.
Info: 307-278-6061, www.lodgesofthebighorns.com, Meadowlark Ski Lodge on Facebook.
Antelope Butte Ski Area
Depending on the weather, the newly re-opened Antelope Butte Ski Area will run from Dec. 20 to April 12. The area also offers lessons, rentals and other perks.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and every day from Dec. 20 to Jan. 5 except Christmas Day.
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Daily tickets: Adult $40; Student ages 13-17 $32; College student with an ID, military and seniors over 65 $32; Youth are $20 and children are free.
Info: 307-529-1052, www.antelopebuttefoundation.org, Antelope Butte on Facebook
Hogadon Ski Area
More snow than normal has dropped on Hogadon this year. The area’s opening date is Saturday with at least one run and multiple side runs.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
Daily tickets: Senior more than 70 years old, free. Adult 65-69 and active military $36. Adult, $48. Youth 13-18, $40. Child, $30. Five and under are free.
Info: 307-235-8499, www.hogadon.net
Pine Creek Ski Resort
Ski more than 1,400 vertical feet of mountain at this small resort in southwest Wyoming. It has dozens of runs and boasts “the shortest lines around.”
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday through Sunday and holidays. Open during the week when ski schools are there.
Daily ticket: Adults $45; Child $35
Info: 307-279-3201, www.pinecreekskiresort.com
Snow King Mountain
Ski during the day and tube at night at a ski area just minutes from Jackson’s town center. Snow King opened Saturday.
Daily tickets: Adults $59. Juniors 6-14 and seniors over 65, $49. Kids 5 and under are free.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Info: 307-201-5464, www.snowkingmountain.com
Snowy Range Ski Area
Touting its low prices and deep snow, Snowy Range Ski Area plans to open Friday. The area is close to Laramie and near to snowmobiling and cross country skiing. It has dozens of trails and more than 1,000 feet in elevation.
Daily tickets: Adult, $49; Teen 13-17, $42; Child 5-12, $30; and student or active military, $42. Seniors 70 and up and children 4 and under, free
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Info: 307-745-5750, www.snowyrangeski.com
Learn how to ski and snowboard or hone your skills at one of Sleeping Giant’s many clinics throughout the winter. Opening date for the area is weather dependent.
Daily tickets: Adult, $46. Junior, $32. Child, $22. Sixth graders ski six times for $60.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday
Info: 307-587-3125, www.skisg.com
Cross Country Ski Trails
Contact your local Nordic ski areas for information about expanding trail systems. Alpine areas are also offering more Nordic options with ski rentals and groomed trails.
Wyoming’s major cross country ski centers include:
- Casper Mountain (307-259-0958, www.natrona.net/238/Trails-Center)
- Pahaska Tepee Resort near Cody (email@example.com, www.nordicskiclub.com)
- In the Bighorn National Forest near Sheridan (www.blackmountainnordic.com)
- Pole Mountain near Laramie (www.medicinebownordic.org)
- Beaver Creek Nordic Area south of Lander (www.landernordic.org)
Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks also offer hundreds of cross country trails (www.nps.gov).
Wyoming offers more than 2,500 snowmobile trails that wind through nearly every corner of the state. Visit the Wyoming State Trails website (wyoparks.wyo.gov) for updated information about groomed trails once the snow really falls.