Winter Outdoor Recreation in Sheridan and Johnson Counties

January 28, 2023

News – Sheridan Media

Although it is nearly February, there is still a lot of winter left in Wyoming, especially in the Big Horn Mountains. While many people enjoy winter by sitting by a crackling fire, reading a book and wishing for the warm winds of spring, many more adventuresome souls like to enjoy winter in the great outdoors.

There are several benefits to getting out-of-doors during the winter. For one thing cold weather exercise can transform white fat into calorie-burning brown fat, so it can jump start a weight loss routine. Winter workouts can increase exposure to sunlight, which can help to boost one’s mood, and increase Vitamin D production in the body. Being outdoors in nature can also reduce stress, always a good thing.

The Sheridan and Buffalo area offer a vast array of winter sports. In a recent interview, Sheridan County Travel and Tourism Director Shawn Parker talked about some of the activities available in the Sheridan area.

He mentioned skiing, as that is one of the first activities people think about when they think about the Big Horn Mountains in the winter, but it is far from the only activity.

“Fat biking has been really popular here for the last several years, With the bike shop right in town it is a great way for people to get out and learn a new sport.”

David Harding, manager of the Sheridan Bicycle Co, explained what a ‘Fat Bikes,’ or a Fat Tire Bike is. He said that they have extra-wide tires which have a lot of surface area where the rubber meets the ground. That keeps the bike and rider on top of snow, sand or other soft surfaces. He added that for those wanting to give Fat Biking a try, Cutler Hill has groomed trails, and is a good place to ride. He added that the tires can also be studded for extra traction.

Snowmobiling has been a popular sport in the Big Horn Mountains for many years and continues to grow in popularity. Driving up the mountain anywhere one can see many snowmobile tracks in the snow, as well as several signs that warn motorists of snowmobiles crossing the highway. Parker said many people come and visit the mountain lodges above Sheridan, as well as Buffalo, to enjoy the mountains on their snowmobiles.

In Johnson County, Claudia Todd, director of JoCo First, Johnson County’s Economic Development, talked about the opportunities that are near Buffalo. She said the skijoring event was canceled last year due to lack of snow, and although this is plenty of snow this year, the event was not scheduled. But there are other event around the area.

On the Buffalo side of the mountain, there is downhill skiing, cross country skiing, as well as snowmobiling. Todd said that the Powder Pass Nordic Club is putting on the Pole Creek Challenge Cross Country Skiing event, Feb. 25, starting at 10 a.m. Todd talked about cross country skiing trails.

Other activities include ice fishing on area lakes, such as Lake DeSmet, Sibly Lake and Healy, as well as others. There is a yearly ice fishing derby at Lake DeSmet as well. There are several different species of fish in Wyoming lakes, contact the Game and Fish to find which species are common in the area waters.

Winter is a good time to see wildlife as well, but always give them ample space.

Parker added that sportsman even enjoy fly-fishing, as many of the creeks and rivers have open water even during much of the winter.

Ice climbing is also becoming popular, Parker said, and in the JoCo itinerary it mentions that Tensleep Canyon isn’t far from Buffalo and offers many opportunities to ice climb.

For family friendly events, there will be a family sled day coming up at Kendrick Mansion as a way for the family to get together and have a good time. There are also several places around the area for sledding.

Parker said that the travel and tourism is focused on winter sports. For one thing the town isn’t as busy in the winter and the mountain isn’t nearly as busy. “We love to see it,” he said. He mentioned the upcoming winter rodeo in Sheridan as well, which will be Feb. 18 starting at 9 a.m. at Sheridan County Fairgrounds.

There are several stores in the area that sell equipment for almost any winter sport one desires to try, and the staff can answer questions about various sports and equipment needed.

When going outside in the winter, it is important to be safe. Make sure to have clothes that keep you warm, dry and break the wind. Layering your clothes is important. Layering traps air between the layers of clothes and can be shed to avoid overheating. Wool or wool blend clothes are good, as wool retains its ability to keep one warm even when wet.

Good socks and waterproof boots are important as well. If one is new to outdoor winter exercise, they should talk to a person who is experienced in the sport you want to try and ask what clothes they recommend.

Sunscreen and eye protection is important as well. Sunglasses or goggles are essential to shield the sun’s damaging rays and can help to keep snow and other debris out of the eyes. The bright sun, reflecting off snow, can burn the eyes and cause snow blindness as well as a bad sunburn. Warm hats, gloves and helmets are important to keep one warm and safe.

So, take some time and enjoy the winter months. There is a lot to do in our area during the winter. There is nothing quite like being out in the mountains in the winter, where the beauty of the snow-covered landscape, the absolute silence and the cold, crisp air seem to melt away stress. But, when going outdoors, make sure to be safe, and then have fun.

Last modified: January 28, 2023

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