Winter in Wyoming is arguably the best season, with abundant snow sports, thermal features, and wide-open skies. If you’re searching for unique winter vacation ideas, look no further. Traveling with your family across the state allows you to experience the vast diversity of recreational opportunities throughout the coldest months. Take a look at these winter getaways and start planning the perfect snow-covered Wyoming family vacation.
Preparing for Your Best Winter Vacation
There is plenty for the family to see and do during winter in the Cowboy State, and a vast majority of it will take you into the breathtaking, frost-covered outdoors including some of the best places to visit in Wyoming in winter. While beautiful, the wilds of Wyoming can be dangerous in the colder months, and it’s important to take necessary precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe while you explore. Before you head out, consider these three things:
- Prepare: Make sure you have the appropriate gear for the temperature and the activity you will be doing. Consider going directly to a nearby outfitter once you arrive and letting an expert provide you with equipment, warm clothing, and emergency items you may need.
- Bring: Always have a first aid kit with you when you venture into the great outdoors. Additionally, other supplies may be helpful to have on hand, including flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food items, water and extra blankets.
- Be Aware: Never go it alone when enjoying Wyoming in the winter. Always travel in groups, and let one person cross steep areas (particularly in the mountains) at a time in the event of an avalanche. Booking a guided tour is a safe bet, as you can be directed by a local professional well acquainted with the terrain and told when an area is just too risky.
For more information on how to safely enjoy winter in Wyoming, click here.
10 Must-Visit Kid-Friendly Vacations in the Winter
From a frosty visit to a state park in Wyoming to winter sports in a gorgeous snow-covered landscape, these are the ten must-visit kid-friendly vacations in the winter.
1. Visit Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis
A popular Wyoming getaway any time of the year, the hot springs of Thermopolis are even more spectacular in the winter as the heat of the water contrasts with the snow and cold air.
Check out the springs and the resident bison herd, then head to the Star Plunge for a fun family swim and a memory-making visit to their unique vapor cave. Treat yourself to a ride on their pulse-pounding water slides when the temps rise above freezing.
Continue dipping in hot springs at Hellie’s Tepee Pools, and take advantage of their steam room, dry sauna and the Tipi Grill with delicious fair-style food. Always one of the best winter vacations for families, Thermopolis is jam-packed with fun for the whole crew.
2. Enjoy a Sleigh Ride at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson
When coming up with winter vacation ideas that have a truly cozy feel, imagine bundling up in a sleigh and cruising over the snow with hundreds of elk mere feet away. Jackson provides this classically festive experience in the “sleighs” at the National Elk Refuge. If there isn’t enough snow for the skis, the sleigh rides take place on wheels, offering visitors a memorable adventure either way.
Dress very warm and bring the whole family to take in the landscape and see the wildlife!
3. Go Alpine and Nordic Skiing at Grand Targhee Resort
Grand Targhee can’t be beat for families looking for great terrain, easy access and childcare opportunities while staying within a reasonable budget. Get a room at one of their hotels and walk to the ski hill in less than three minutes. The ski school and play care are right on the way, and the heated outdoor pool is perfect for finishing off the kids’ energy before bed.
The Nordic center boasts groomed trails and allows fat biking, too (note that dogs are not permitted here).
Other Grand Targhee family perks include Kids Night Out, tubing and snowshoeing. This Wyoming family vacation makes it easy to keep everyone happy.
4. Ski or Snowmobile into Brooks Lake Lodge
A Nordic ski (or snowmobile ride) is the perfect way to see Wyoming in the winter, and riding at Brooks Lake Lodge is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a historic lodge that has been there for generations.
While staying overnight as a family is a higher price point, it’s worth it as it is all-inclusive. Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Start early so you don’t miss a bite of this delicious meal.
The five-mile ski trail follows the snowmobile track, and while it is usually groomed well, skiers and snowmobilers alike must be aware of each other.
Plan to bring trailers for tiny skiers to ride in and plenty of snacks for when hunger strikes and you’d prefer to keep going. The best treat is that the ski out is slightly downhill, so you aren’t fighting the lunch you just ate.
5. Watch Old Faithful Erupt in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone might not be the first thing that comes to mind when mulling over your winter vacation ideas, but taking a snow coach into Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park makes for the trip of a lifetime and is worth every penny. Stay at the Snow Lodge, watch Old Faithful erupt, ice skate at the lit rink and enjoy the quiet experience of Yellowstone.
The park has an incredible winter-only Junior Ranger program that comes highly recommended by the locals.
Drops to various cross-country ski trails are available, though they are provided at an additional cost. Bring plenty of extra food to accommodate hungry kids who may not be in line with the schedules of the limited restaurant hours.
6. Rent a Yurt in Sinks Canyon Near Lander
Calling all parents in search of unique kid-friendly vacations in the winter. The yurts at Sinks Canyon near Lander are relatively new, so they are easier to get a reservation for than other well-known yurts in the general area. They are easily accessed by car, are very clean and allow families a seamless and relaxing getaway. Additionally, Sinks Canyon State Park is now the Cowboy State’s first registered International Dark Sky Park.
Pro Tip: If expecting super cold weather, bring an additional space heater. There are no wood stoves (nor cooking in the yurts), but there is electricity.
From the yurt, you can Nordic ski on the local trails or drive just a little way up the road to the warming hut (reservations only) with a fantastic sledding hill.
7. Visit Casper Mountain and then Head into Town
Hogadon Basin Ski Area, located high on Casper Mountain, this area boasts a newly renovated lodge, ski trails for the whole family and a large amount of Nordic skiing, biathlon courses and snowshoeing.
After you’re done on the mountain, head 20 minutes into Casper to visit the Casper Planetarium, National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, The Science Zone or the 5150’ indoor rock-climbing gym. Or head to the recreation center for swimming or ice skating. This city is one Wyoming family vacation destination with plenty to offer in every season.
8. Ski, Snowshoe or Fat Bike near Laramie
Laramie is best known as the home of the state’s only University, but travelers know it as one of the best winter vacations for families and an undiscovered outdoor paradise. The city boasts miles of groomed cross-country ski trails just 10 miles from town.
For downhill skiers, the Snowy Range Ski area offers enough fresh powder and fun terrain to keep tourists and locals happy all winter long.
With abundant fat biking, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing east of town on Pole Mountain and west of town in the Snowy Range, it’s worth visiting southeastern Wyoming this winter.
9. Snag a Frosty Catch When Ice Fishing at Fremont Lake
Fremont Lake near Pinedale is one of the most picturesque places to experience the beauty of Wyoming in the winter, and ice fishing allows the whole gang to get involved. Awaiting a tug on your line from the water’s frozen surface while taking in the quiet, snow-covered landscape around you opens the door for communication and connecting with nature as a family.
Avid anglers may be able to catch trout, as rainbow, Mackinaw and German brown varieties are commonly found in the lake. Once you’ve caught the day’s haul, cozy up with a warm drink and share stories of the day’s adventures, or head into the city to check out the Museum of the Mountain Man.
10. Winter Wonderland Exploration at Devils Tower National Monument
A soaring, iconic monument stands stark against the winter sky, inviting hikers, photographers and curious visitors to take a closer look at this piece of Wyoming’s natural history. Devils Tower National Monument is a sacred place and a world-famous destination for rock climbing in the warmer months, but the breathtaking view of this mammoth rock against the snow is a wonderful winter vacation idea.
Bundling up for a winter hike around the tower is a great way to get up close and personal, particularly on the Tower Trail Loop, which circles the tower’s base and is considered an easy, gentle hike for all ages. Enjoy some wildlife watching, as well as snowmobiling and cross-country skiing nearby if the snowfall is high enough.