It’s hard to imagine a more rugged landscape than Wyoming in the winter. It would also be difficult to come up with a better place for winter adventure: the Cowboy State is cold enough to sustain powder to ski and ice to climb, and the mountainous terrain makes the perfect backdrop for any winter activity. After a big day of getting after it in the Wyoming backcountry, you’ll be ready for a cozy basecamp—and this slice of the American West provides on that front, too. Ready to start planning your adventure? These 10 spots make the best winter adventure basecamps you’ll find anywhere.
In the Snowy Range
1. Albany Lodge
The Snowy Range is as picturesque as it sounds, and for old-school charm, the Snowy Range Ski Area can’t be beat. The area boasts an excellent variety of terrain in the shadow of 12,013-foot Medicine Bow Peak, plus groomed cross-country ski trails for when those quads need a break. This is also snowmobile country, with more than 220 miles of groomed trails (and another 100 miles of ungroomed trails) in the Snowy Range and Medicine Bow National Forest.
At the end of the day, warm up at Albany Lodge, where you can continue the feeling of seclusion from the real world in a cozy cabin or a more traditional hotel-style room. Either way, the 0n-site restaurant (with a fully stocked bar) means you won’t have to go far to refuel. Snowmobile rentals are available here as well for those looking to hit the trails.
2. The Cabin at Riverside
It’s always fun to take a dip in a natural hot spring, but soaking in the winter is somehow even more satisfying. The Hobo Hot Springs in Saratoga have brought settlers to the North Platte River Valley for more than a century, and they’ve long been a place of peace between travelers and native people. Today, the springs—where temperatures range from 101 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit—are free and open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers also will enjoy spending time on the Bottle Creek Trails in the Medicine Bow National Forest.
When you’re finished soaking, head down to The Cabin at Riverside, where hot water on demand and wood-burning stove keep you comfy even as the mercury drops. The cabin features two queen beds, two single beds, a sleeper sofa and one and a half baths—and while you may enjoy getting away from it all, you still have wireless internet and satellite television if you want to stay plugged in. You’re also within walking distance of a restaurant and bar.
In Northwest Wyoming
3. Kodiak Mountain Resort
Modern-day cowboys might still know their way around a horse, but there’s a little bit of motorhead in them, too. Fortunately, Wyoming has plenty of snowmobile-friendly terrain—and lots of spots to refuel after your motorized adventure.
Located just south of Afton, Wyoming, Kodiak Mountain Resort pairs visitors with a professional snowmobile guide, and its soundproof rooms mean you’ll get a great night’s sleep afterward. The cabins range in size from large two-bedroom units for families that can comfortably sleep six people to the “ultimate couples cabin,” a cozy spot for two that features a spacious jetted tub.
4. Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa
Finally, for those looking for the ultimate in relaxation on their winter retreat, you can enjoy an upscale spa treatment at the all-inclusive Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa near Dubois. Its dry sauna and tranquility room are open to all guests—and there’s the option of facials, hot-stone massages and other luxurious spa treatments.
Of course, you can still enjoy the outdoors while staying at this 100-year-old lodge nested in the Shoshone National Forest, including snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, ice fishing, and wildlife excursions, where you’re likely to spot bighorn sheep, deer and moose.
In the Bighorns
5. Eaton’s Ranch
Northern Wyoming’s craggy Bighorn Mountains are a must-visit for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The robust Nordic trail system is far enough off the beaten path that it’s still relatively uncrowded, which means you’ll likely get to experience some of Wyoming’s best skinny ski terrain, like the Cutler Cross-Country Ski Trail or the Sibley Lake Trails, without having to share.
Once you’ve skied or snowshoed to your heart’s content, hole up at Eaton’s Ranch, a historic dude ranch—it was established 139 years ago—with cute cabins and winter B&B service in Wolf. The working cattle ranch sits 7,000 acres of open country on the eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. You’ll find trails on the ranch to explore, and you’re a short drive from snowmobiling (and more cross-country skiing) in the Bighorn National Forest.
6. Pole Creek Cabin
Cross-country skiers will also find a lot to love at the Pole Creek Nordic Ski Area, with 12 miles of marked trails to explore. For a rustic outdoor adventure a few steps above camping, check out the Pole Creek Cabin. You’ll have to hike to the cabin, bringing all your supplies with you. There’s no running water, and the only heat comes from a wood-burning stove. But the cabin does have a lot going for it—No. 1 being its location just off the trails. It’s also very affordable at only $35 a night, and it offers a one-of-a-kind winter camping experience. Reserve it here or, if it’s already taken, check out the other primitive US Forest Service lodging in Wyoming.
In the National Parks
7. Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
You may be surprised to learn that the national parks in Wyoming don’t shut down in the colder months. In fact, winter is one of the best time to visit, since you’ll get a different (and crowd-free) perspective on some of the country’s most beloved spots.
The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins rents skis and snowshoes and makes the perfect launchpad for seeing Yellowstone’s charismatic wildlife—snow-covered bison, anyone? Seeing the geysers in snow is also an unforgettable experience.
8. Dornan’s Spur Ranch Cabins
For visits to the first national park’s southern neighbor, Grand Teton National Park, make a reservation at Dornan’s, which features one- and two-bedroom Spur Ranch Cabins that offer views of the Grand Teton itself, plus the the potential for moose sightings. They’ll also put you in close proximity to what might be the best pizza in Wyoming.
In the State Parks
9. Keyhole State Park Treehouse
Cabins are cute and all, but there’s more to winter lodging. The Keyhole State Park Treehouse, for example, is unlike anywhere else you’ve ever stayed. An elevated boardwalk gives visitors access to a home away from home among the trees, and it’s the perfect place to warm up after a day of ice fishing on the park’s frozen 14,000-acre lake. (It’s also open to ice skating, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.)
10. Sinks Canyon State Park Yurts
For a more down-to-earth experience, pay a visit to the yurts at Sinks Canyon State Park. The park is known for its climbing, which, while more popular in the summer months, can be done year-round thanks to the south-facing rock and moderate temperatures.
But when the snow starts to fly, the Wind River Range becomes a fat biking haven. These giant-tired bikes make it possible to roll over all kinds of obstacles, and if it weren’t for the homey yurt waiting for you, it would be tough to bring yourself to stop riding. Never stayed in a yurt before? These permanent structures resemble a round, one-room cabin, and each one features a bunk bed with a twin mattress on top and a full-size mattress on the bottom. They have electricity and heat, plus a dining table where you can eat meals. These, too, are reasonably priced, at $40 a night.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with the Wyoming Office of Tourism.