OK. OK! Snowy Range is a ski resort just short of 1K. And Snowy Range is a Wyoming ski area!. Yes, this is my “Idaho Odyssey”. But this circle route began as I set out from Denver. And you’ve gotta go through Wyoming and Utah to get to Idaho. Note also it’s a long ride. So why shouldn’t I stop at Snowy Range. It’s literally right on the way. And it had a recent dump. With close to two feet of powder on a sunny day it is simply irresistible. So Snowy Range, we’re on!
Snowy Range is located in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest just off of route I- 80. It offers 27 slopes with a vertical drop of 990 feet. Now, you’ve gotta appreciate their honesty. How many areas fudge the extra few feet to claim the 1K designation? You know, at least one thousand feet of vertical drop?
The area lies west of Laramie and is a comfortable drive out of Fort Collins and not a bad ride from Denver. If you are a wanderer, and you’re proceeding further west, please note the by pass road off of the main route 80 is closed for the winter season just west of the resort. I learned this fact the hard way as it forced me to back tack a fair distance before returning to I-80 and re-heading to the west. But a visit under the right conditions – these conditions – made for a wonderful, delightful, welcome stop and sojourn.
One gets a feel for an area as the parking lot is approached. There are not attendants flagging you on and directing you about like Disneyworld or an NFL home game. Yea, some families are changing into their ski gear behind their cars, but most skiers here at Snowy just pull into the “unloading only” area. From this courtesy area you’re within a baseball throw from the ski racks. Unload and then change in the lodge. The distance to the front door of the lodge may be compared to a third baseman’s long throw to first, but everyone one can make it, even a super senior.
The Range has a large log lodge that conveniently houses an indoor ticket window, the rental operations, and a sizeable retail ski shop. Every thing close, all under one roof, heated and protected from any possible harsh winter winds. It’s just like being in the local mall.
Ski bags are left neatly tucked under benches or stuffed above the rental lockers. And some people even splurge a buck or two to use a locker for the day. The ticket sales staff have time to greet you warmly and suggest their favorite runs and offer other convenience advice.
True, there are signs that remind us all not to bring food or beverage into the cafeteria because I agree, the operators have to make their ends meet. But no one cares if you spread your own over and on the outside picnic tables. Some of us are classy enough to replace our brown paper bags which impressive cozies we’ve just purchased at the resort of our last visit. Classy, that is, if we can remember them or if we can ever find them .
Such describes Snowy Range. I feel right at home. There is a fixed grip quad from base to top. The slopes and trails balloon out down the left and right sides. Well spaced pines separate each run but more importantly provide caches of untracked powder with steeps that shortcut uncharted connections between the groomed runs. It is close to heaven expect for the exertion necessary in the wet powder on such a warm day. Next year I’m going to get in better shape for my excursions. Hmmm, haven’t I heard that before?
If lunchtime does result in a crunch, everyone squeezes closer to make room and share with total strangers if need be. All are welcome. All are comrades. And what a great opportunity to share knowledge, advice, and experiences.
There is a second lift, about half the size of the main one, opens to the beginners and young family area, and maybe a few terrain features. But I don’t do those and admit I skipped this section. And I have to inspect the second floor where the restaurant and watering hole are.
Wow, I think this is a first. Snowy Range ski area concocts and ferments their craft brew. Naturally I had to try it, and like it I did. Of course the brew I like the best is always the one I hold in my hand. (Or maybe it’s my belly!). And the bar keep. Look, the bar keep sincerely my opinion on his pour and proudly beamed upon my positive affirmation.
So then there’s this guy quietly picking away at his disconnected electric guitar at the end of the bar, clearly tucked away by himself. Like my aged curious cat whom I have left to tend on his own while I wander about, I had to find the “why?” if not the what. Last time I checked, I hadn’t unpacked my guitar; at least not here, certainly not today; even if I ever owned one, even if I knew how to read music.
Now as I suspected Aaron Ehret is a local. As a matter of fact he is the maintenance guy, or as he informed me, the janitor here at the range. But he loves his guitars, loves music and actually plays for the folks during his lunch hour. Yea, I’m out on the WY frontier, where the characters are more colorful that me!
Aaron proudly relates the story behind this and another Rickenbacker guitar he owns and picks upon. It’s all “Greek” to me, this lead-eared tenderfoot! It is a story meaningful to music devotees, historians, collectors or Beatles followers. Thus one of my buddies back east would probably understand and eat all this up. So Aaron and hey, Norm – here’s to ya! I immensely enjoy your talents and skill. I love you both!
But I’ve gotta be heading into the setting sun so I can make Idaho before it sets.