December 7, 2016

By Shelli Johnson/

Right now, in Wind River Country, we are enjoying the blessings of winter, and that means it is a playground around here!

Winter is slow to start in our neighboring communities and states, so we are particularly lucky here in Wind River Country right now. After one of the most unseasonably warm – and stellar – Autumns in Wind River Country that I can remember in several years, we finally were blessed with 15-20 inches of white stuff on Nov. 17-18.

What to do, what to do? That is a serious question because our options in Wind River Country are numerous. We could go fat biking on one of the many bike trails or backcountry roads, or we could go snowmobiling, or snowshoeing, or sledding or cross country skiing, or on a winter hike with big, warm boots on.

I am writing this on Nov. 26, and today we decided to go cross country skiing.

The Family Selfie
The Family Selfie

Thanks in large part to the Lander Nordic Ski Association, our cross country ski options are Epic. For we locals who have only a little bit of a time, we can enjoy up to 10k of groomed skate and classic ski trails at our scenic Lander Golf Club.

Writer’s son, Wolf, 16, skiing on BLM Loop at Beaver Creek Nordic Area
Writer’s son, Wolf, 16, skiing on BLM Loop at Beaver Creek Nordic Area

Our most awesome option awaits at Beaver Creek Nordic Area, on South Pass. On a weekend day like this one, when we have more available time than during the week, we can load up the car, and drive 22 miles, past the scenic Red Canyon to reach our cross country skiing mecca – Beaver Creek.

Some 10k of trails are maintained at Beaver Creek, and they are scenic and well cared for. Jerry and our son, Fin, who is 9, went classic skiing, while sons Wolf, 16, and Hayden, 14, enjoyed some skate skiing.

Fin and his Dad at Beaver Creek
Fin and his Dad at Beaver Creek

There is a great variety of trails at Beaver Creek. Truly, there is something for everyone. There are easier trails like Upper Limestone, Tree Loop and Inner Pipeline, and there are numerous intermediate trails such as Pipeline, Pipe Dream, Lower Limestone and BLM Loop. There are hard trails, too, such as Water Trough and Eternity Hill, which – trust me – at 8,000’ elevation, can take your breath away.

I love to ski every trail once, which is what Wolf, Hayden and I did today. I also sneak out there on one weekday morning every week, and if I’m lucky, and have enough time, I’ll often ski 4-6 rounds of the BLM Loop. BLM Loop is the area’s outermost trail, and is my favorite because of the epic downhill that is earned after epic uphill skiing, as well as the scenery provided near “Rocky Ridge,” and the occasional moose sighting.

shelli-haydenskateskiingbeavercreek1200x628I recommend you join the Lander Nordic Ski Association. Membership amounts range from $25-$125 per household, and dues go a long way toward helping pay for the phenomenal trails and groomed conditions we cross country skiers get to enjoy in Wind River Country.

If you’re wondering what to do on a winter day in Wind River Country, consider putting some cross country skis on. I promise you will thank me for the encouragement!

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Shelli Johnson, owner of Epic Life, is an entrepreneur, life and leadership coach, leadership development facilitator, keynote presenter, writer, adventurer and guide. She is married to Jerry, and is the mother of three sons, Wolf, 16, Hayden, 14, and Fin, 9. They live in Lander, WY, where they frequently hike in the foothills and mountains of the Wind River Range. #WindRiverCountry

Posted in Notes From the Field