Simple Snowy Range

The world may ski at Jackson Hole, but Wyoming skis at Snowy Range. This classic ski area is close to two of the state's population centers: a mere 32 miles from Laramie, home to the University of Wyoming, and 75 miles from Cheyenne, the state capital.

Skiing at Snowy Range is simplicity itself. It is only a ski area – not a resort with high-speed lifts, ski-in/ski-out lodging, pay parking or other trappings of big-league resorthood. Rather, it remains down-home and compact, offering the kind of low-cost, low-key, family-friendly skiing that people often complain has been lost.

The ski area is set just east of Snowy Range Pass in the heart of the Medicine Bow Mountains, where the Continental Divide has its easternmost thrust. It captures an average of 260 inches of a snow each winter. Pacific storms pass over the Divide and drop their loads on Snowy Range. With modest skier traffic, powder often lingers from storm to storm.

Drive down the short access road, park, shoulder your skis and walk over to the simple, functional day lodge to get geared up. That’s all there is to it. Snowy Range offers up 27 congenial trails fanned out over a pair of adjacent mountains and five lifts. The layout makes it easy to create mix and match routes for maximum variety, yet is so sensible that you can glide from the top of any lift to the bottom of any other, which giant ski areas can't offer.

Locals consider Snowy Range a day trip, but it is also a low-cost getaway for visitors. Tiny Centennial, 5 miles east of the ski area, offers accommodations. Laramie provides even more lodging options, plus the range of dining and entertainment options expected in a university town.