Winter has come to Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country, and I, for one, couldn’t be more tickled! It’s a marshmallow world out there – or, at least, until it gets all melty and muddy – and those crazy folks who love the winter sports are having a ball!
I have to say, even though I grew up where the seasons all came neatly when they should (as opposed to Wyoming, where you can have snow in July and 60 degree days in February), I have never been a fan of winter sports. To be honest, skiing scares the tar out of me. But everyone around here was so excited when our local ski hill opened up again, I had to go check it out.
Sleeping Giant Ski Area, just outside the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is one of the oldest ski hills around. Folks who grew up here learned to ski on it and have great memories of their families going on skiing outings together. Unfortunately, the hill closed in 2004 and it took a humongous community effort to raise enough funds to open it again in 2009, better than before! Last year the weather did NOT cooperate, it was a miserably short snow season for skiers around here, but this year is starting off with a bang – almost 700 skiers, snowboarders, and other crazies graced the slopes and terrain park on opening weekend this year, and by golly, Corrie N. Cody was right up there with the other nuts!
Having never skied before, I needed a LOT of help. Fortunately, there are some very skilled, patient professional instructors at Sleeping Giant who are used to the fears and follies of beginners like me. They’ve got an amazingly affordable package for those of us just learning to ski – just $39 gets you a lift ticket, group lesson AND equipment rental! And if you’re scared of the chair lift (like I was), there’s this really cool thing called a “Magic Carpet” – it’s like the moving walkways at the airports, you just step on and it carries you right up the hill! Amazing. What I also appreciated was that there were plenty of groomed areas – I wasn’t too hip on sludging through the loose powder!
Well, needless to say, I fell a couple of times (okay, a few), but all in all it wasn’t as painful as an experience as I expected! And wow, were there some AMAZING skiers on the hill that day – all ages (the little kids who swooshed effortlessly down the slopes just killed me), all abilities, and all having a ball. What I really enjoyed watching, though, were the snowboarders who were using the terrain park! This terrain park is really unique – it’s got 14 features, including quarter pipes, rails, boxes and jumps (at least, that’s what they say). I was told that this terrain park is one of only a handful in the country that was built almost entirely of materials found on the hill… pretty cool!
Once I was done torturing myself on the slopes, I decided I’d better treat myself to the indoor amenities at Sleeping Giant – namely, the lodge and its “Grizzly Grill”! I had worked up quite an appetite – falling and getting up as often as I had – so I asked the gal behind the counter what the most popular menu item was. Right away she told me it was the “Bearito” – a tortilla stuffed with taco meat and the Grill’s awesome Black Bean Soup, reduced until it’s stick-to-your-ribs thick. So of course I HAD to have it – and was amazed when I saw the price, just $3.50! I ordered a cup of cappuccino from the list of beverages which ranged from chocolate milk and energy drinks to 100% juices, coffee and hot chocolate. There were plenty of kids in the lodge chewing on cheesy fries and sipping their hot cocoa, and several adults who wanted a more potent beverage went up the stairs to ring the “beer bell”!
All in all, it was a really great day, topped off with a beautiful drive back home to Cody. The big horn sheep are EVERYWHERE right now, so I had to be pretty careful – the deer were out in full force near Wapiti, too. And I was really thankful for the snowplow drivers, who were doing their best to keep the roads clear for all of us who enjoyed Sleeping Giant on that opening weekend!
Oh, and for anyone who wants to get out there and enjoy the family-friendly and fun atmosphere of Sleeping Giant for themselves, the hill is open from 9-4 every weekend until after the first of the year, when they’ll be open Friday through Monday for the rest of the season.
And now that I’ve gotten a taste for snow, you’ll probably find me up there, too – hopefully tasting that snow just a little less often…
See you on the slopes of Sleeping Giant!
Lovin’ life in Cody Country,
Corrie N. Cody