Winter offers a unique opportunity for memorable Wyoming adventures, and Wyoming state parks have plenty of ways for visitors to stay active and enjoy the breathtaking scenery during the cold months.
A broad array of activities, ranging from ice fishing to cross-country skiing to mountain biking, draw winter enthusiasts.
State parks in the winter
“Our wintertime activities at Bear River include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow biking, good ole’ sledding, hiking, wildlife watching, snowman building and visiting the many displays at the Visitor Center,” Tyfani Sager, park superintendent at Bear River State Park, said.
Located near Evanston in Uinta County, Bear River State Park is among several Wyoming state parks that are open year-round. Others include:
- Boysen State Park near Shoshoni in Fremont County,
- Buffalo Bill State Park near Cody in Park County,
- Curt Gowdy State Park between Cheyenne and Laramie in Albany County,
- Edness K. Wilkins State Park near Casper in Natrona County,
- Glendo State Park near Glendo in Platte and Converse counties,
- Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis in Hot Springs County,
- Keyhole State Park near Moorcroft in Crook County, and
- Sinks Canyon State Park near Lander in Fremont County.
Here are some of the most popular ways to enjoy Wyoming state parks in the winter.
Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails hosts guided “First Day Hikes” at various sites throughout the state on New Year’s Day as part of a nationwide initiative to encourage people to get outdoors. The annual event is a great way to explore the state’s natural areas and see wildlife while getting some exercise and fresh air. If you can’t get out on the first of the year, hiking Wyoming’s state parks in the winter is a great way to enjoy peaceful time outdoors throughout the season.
Ice fishing is popular at many of Wyoming state parks, generally from January through March, depending on the conditions of the ice. Keyhole Reservoir is a favorite spot for ice fishing, with 14,000 acres of ice, a wide variety of fish and lakeside amenities. At Glendo State Park, walleye are the primary target, but the lake also has crappie, perch and catfish.
Ice fishing tournaments also draw anglers, including the Wyoming Fishing Tournament at Curt Gowdy State Park and the Shoshoni Ice Fishing Derby at Boysen Reservoir, both of which take place each January.
Ice racing & ice sailing
Visitors looking for a more unique wintertime experience can enjoy ice racing and ice sailing. Boysen Ice Races are a popular draw to Fremont Bay, where visitors can watch daredevil motorcycle races every other Saturday during the winter, depending on ice conditions. Granite Reservoir at Curt Gowdy State Park draws ice sailing enthusiasts, who speed across the ice, using windsurfing sails and masts to harness the wind.
Snowshoeing & cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are rewarding ways for winter enthusiasts to immerse themselves in Wyoming’s striking beauty.
Favorite spots for these activities include Bear River State Park, Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site, Keyhole State Park and Edness K. Wilkins State Park.
Mountain biking & fat biking
With 35 miles of mountain biking trails, including rugged and technically challenges places, Curt Gowdy State Park is a popular spot for fat tire biking. Mountain biking also is popular at Glendo State Park, where warm westerly winds limit winter sports, Superintendent Brian K. Johnson said.
“The limited amount of snow does allow for people to continue mountain biking into the late fall and to get a little earlier start in spring than many other popular mountain biking destinations,” he said. “If we get a mild winter, there are times that an avid rider can find some open trails in the middle of winter. We get a few good areas with snow for the fat tire biking enthusiasts.”
Campsites are available year-round at many state parks, and some have cabins and yurts.
“With the addition of four heated camping cabins, wintertime recreation is easier than ever in the park,” Patrick Harrington, superintendent of Curt Gowdy State Park, said.
Keyhole State Park also has four camping cabins and Boysen State Park has three. Yurts are available for reservation year-round at Sinks Canyon State Park and Glendo State Park. For a unique camping experience, Keyhole State Park also has a treehouse available for reservation year-round.
Snowmobiling is a great way to explore some of Wyoming’s most beautiful winter vistas that are inaccessible by other modes of travel. The Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails oversees the Wyoming Trails program, which maintains more than 2,000 miles of groomed and ungroomed snowmobile trails throughout the state. Trail grooming typically takes place from mid-December to April 1, depending on snowfall, and visitors can check snow and avalanche reports online before venturing out. The state’s snowmobile trails are recognized among the most popular in the nation by the Coalition of Recreational Trails.
The State Trails Program partners with other land management agencies to support trails, which are predominantly on federal lands. Snowmobile trails also are available within 16 miles of Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site.
Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis offers a warm and indulgent complement to Wyoming’s winter sports.
“The obvious pleasure of our park is that the mineral water feels so good during the winter months,” Superintendent Kevin Skates said. “You can soak free at the State Bath House, which has an indoor and outdoor pool, both opened year-round. Also, there are two Concessionaire pools that use the mineral water as well. They are larger pools that do have an entrance fee.”