Sometimes the best activities are in our own backyards, or close anyway. At a friend’s encouragement our whole family rented skis and took a short drive up Casper Mountain to the Nordic Ski Center. The lodge itself manages to capture the classic mountain ski lodge look and feel without being pretentious, but the real draw is the 26 miles of trails.
Outdoor sports and recreation in Wyoming are usually more about enjoying our beautiful landscapes than the trappings of a particular sport or activity. True to Wyoming style, we saw folks with the newest of skate skiing gear, families with small children shuffling down the trail, people on snow shoes, and every style of outdoor winter apparel – from Carhartts to Lycra. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses, just get out and enjoy.
Natrona County maintains the trails in the Nordic ski area, but we arrived just after a fresh snow and the trails hadn’t been groomed yet. The fresh powder on the track provided a wonderful first time skiing experience for my kids. Even though they had never skied in their lives, they took off down the trail. Since it’s been 20 years since I skied, it was perfect for me, too.
If you’ve wondered about cross country skiing, I highly recommend you give it a try. It is a total body workout and can be as strenuous or gentle as you like. It’s easy on joints and I’m convinced anyone of any age can learn how to cross country ski.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on intro equipment. Of course you can spend a lot of money of you want to, but if you are just testing the waters, there is probably a place in your town where you can rent skis for a very reasonable price.
Shout out to Mountain Sports of Casper for their great customer service and ski rentals! While my family experiments and figures out exactly what kind of equipment we want, we have been able to rent equipment from Mountain Sports and pick the staff’s collective brain about styles of skiing, kinds of equipment, and many other helpful things.
Also a typical Wyoming experience is the wonderful conversation we had with a Norwegian woman at the lodge. She told us about the equipment she grew up with. We looked at some of the old-style and antique skis decorating the lodge as she reflected on her memories of cross country skiing as the common mode of winter transportation across all kinds of terrain. The skis, binding, and boots she remembers from her childhood reflected that.
We have a lot to learn about cross country, or Nordic, skiing, and we are having a blast doing it in our own ‘backyard’ on Casper Mountain.