For skiers and snowboarders, Wyoming is a tale of two ski towns. One is a western ski town with slopes visible from its downtown streets, the other is filled with cultural experiences and slopes just a short drive away. Both are lovely places to visit and live year-round in “Big Wyoming”.
While there are activities and entertainment in both ski towns, one has an abundance of things to do and the other has an abundance of things to see. Jackson lies in a valley surrounded by mountains, while Casper is surrounded by rolling hills before reaching the distant mountains. But both exist under the same wide-open and cloudy Wyoming sky.
Here are the top ski towns in Wyoming to live and visit, in no particular order:
Jackson is a true western ski town, with plenty of cowboy-related experiences that mesh perfectly with the town’s rustic atmosphere. The slopes of the local Snow King Mountain Resort overlooking the town are a reminder that skiing and snowboarding are never more than a few minutes away.
Jackson Hole, the valley in which the town of Jackson is located, was a popular area for trappers during the 19th century. The town was incorporated in 1914 and today is a Preserve America Community, celebrating the original structures that still exist in the western town. By the 2020 US census, Jackson had 10,760 residents.
Some of the town’s century-old buildings line wooden sidewalks around the town square. The Old West comes to life in downtown Jackson, with restaurants and shops filling the false-front buildings. Fine dining and international cuisine join boutiques of fine art, jewelers, and outdoor gear.
In the winter, skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes of Snow King Mountain, or like most visitors, drive a bit further along the valley to the world-class wonderland at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Away from the slopes, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides are popular pastimes.
Summer months can be spent in nearby Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Parks with wildlife viewing, hiking, paragliding, and camping. Cowboy heritage comes alive with chuckwagon dinners, stagecoach tours of downtown, horseback trail rides, and rodeos.
As the second largest community in the state, on the surface, Casper might seem to be more of a ski city than a ski town. But considering its population was just below 60,000 at the 2020 census and the local ski area is just a quick drive away, it’s right on par with large winter destinations in other states.
The town has an excellent culinary scene, plus plenty of bakeries and breweries. What Casper lacks in quaint buildings and city streets, it makes up for in the sheer volume of things to do. In any season, the town boasts a large number of museums and art galleries. Experience the annual Casper Sled Dog Races in the winter, or take a wagon ride along the Oregon Trail in the summer.
The warm months are also time for music festivals and rodeos, as well as fly fishing and kayaking. Hogadon Basin Ski Area is only minutes away with varied terrain for skiing and snowboarding, plus trails for Nordic skiing. Snowshoeing, fat biking, and snowmobiling are additional activities to try outdoors in the cold months.
Casper’s history has long been tied to the railroad. The town was created as a train stop near the abandoned site of Fort Casper in 1888. The train offered a place to export cattle and wool from the area, but its biggest export was oil.
Several refineries made homes in Casper and the town consistently grew until the 1980s when major refineries closed. Today the site of one refinery has been transformed into Platte River Commons, filled with recreation, apartments, and lodging.
The least populated state in the nation may not seem like the best place to find a ski town, yet the “Equality State” offers two very different options to give skiers and snowboarders a unique experience. They both welcome guests with activities that celebrate the west and the outdoors, and access to Wyoming’s top ski resorts.