There’s perhaps no more idyllic winter wonderland, away from the crowds and filled with outdoor adventure and wide-open spaces, than Sheridan, Wyoming. Never more than 45 minutes from town, the Bighorn Mountains serve as a winter playground for ice climbers, cross-country and backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and fat tire bikers. Snowmobiling enthusiasts will find upwards of 300 miles of groomed and 50 miles of ungroomed trails in the Bighorn National Forest, and alpine skiers can hit the slopes of Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area, which reopened to skiers in 2018.
With an abundance of cold-weather activities, including what are outsize culinary and arts scenes for such a small town, a winter getaway to Sheridan lets you savor the season in and around the area, and feel good about it, too. From discovering a new sport and sipping local brews to shopping at small businesses and staying in historic lodges, here’s how to discover Sheridan this winter, while supporting its community and caring for its environment at the same time.
What happens when skiers and cowboys collide? Skijoring! This unusual wintertime sport combines skiing and horseback riding with a horse and rider towing a skier at full gallop along a snowy course filled with jumps and other obstacles. Skijoring is the highlight of the annual Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo, held each February. During the rodeo’s skijoring races, riders saddle up and skiers step into their modified skis for a race down Broadway in the heart of historic downtown Sheridan. The weekend’s events also include outdoor concerts and family sled races on the skijoring track.
Shred slopes—and find tranquility—at Antelope Butte
In addition to the Bighorn Mountains, winter enthusiasts will want to check out the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area, about 60 miles west of Sheridan. Reopened to skiers and adventurers in 2018, Antelope Butte features 28 trails for downhill skiing and snowboarding off three lifts, and miles of groomed trails for Nordic skiing and fat tire biking. Those same trails make for quiet and solitude while snowshoeing, and you can even rent out the whole mountain for a private ski day with the yurt, lift tickets, rental equipment, and more included.
Shop small to gear up
Whether you’re looking to rent gear to try out the myriad wintertime sports in and around Sheridan or you need to replace your own well-worn clothing or equipment, there are a handful of local outfitters in town to check out. Locally owned and family-operated, Sport Stop has what you need and the staff will happily share their favorite spots for winter fun. Wyoming-based Rocky Mountain Discount Sports has everything you could possibly think of for an outdoor adventure, from ice fishing gear to outdoor cooking supplies to prepare your catch. For serious anglers, Fly Shop of the Bighorns is a fly-fishing hub. The retailer carries the largest selection of flies and fly-tying materials in the region. Wintertime fat tire bikers can stop by Sheridan Bicycle Co. to rent a ride to take on the groomed cross-country ski trails in the Bighorns.
Aprés in downtown Sheridan
After enjoying all the fun that Sheridan, the Bighorn Mountains, and the surrounding area has to offer, it’s time to relax and refuel. Stop by Koltiska Distillery, Sheridan’s first distillery, and sip a Winter Mule, made with the distillery’s own KO Vodka, KO Winter-Mint, ginger beer, and lime. Sidle up to Black Tooth Brewing Co.’s tasting room for a pint of Saddle Bronc Brown, an English-style brown ale, or warm up with a pour of Roasted Pueblo, a chili ale served at “Sheridan’s living room,” Luminous Brewhouse. For a bit of history with your drink of choice, visit the Mint Bar, serving cowboys and travelers since 1907.
Have more than a good night’s sleep
When it’s time to bed down for the night, make reservations to stay at places that are destinations themselves like the historic Sheridan Inn, which opened in 1893 and was partially owned by Buffalo Bill Cody. Or opt for any one of the mountain lodges in nearby Dayton. Bear Lodge Resort sits atop the Bighorn Mountains at an elevation of 8,300 feet and offers a variety of lodging, including motel rooms, condo cabins, rustic cabins, and RV sites. Also atop the Bighorn Mountains, Elk View Inn includes hotel rooms, a condo cabin, and RV sites. The motel rooms and suites, rustic cabins and RV sites at Arrowhead Lodge, tucked into a Bighorn Mountain valley on the South Fork Tongue River, are a secluded, low-key option that let you immerse in scenic beauty. Whichever you choose, you’ll rest easy knowing you’re supporting small businesses and are getting away from it all in the best way possible.
Sheridan Travel Tourism