Column: Bighorns a winter wonderland for recreation | Open air

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s just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the great outdoors. The Bighorn National Forest has long been a great place for outdoor winter adventures. Below are some ideas to consider and some pro tips to ensure your journey is a success.

“Please recreate responsibly. Know where you are and please respect public and private land borders, restricted motorized areas such as Federally Designated Wilderness, winter wildlife closures, and cross-country and downhill ski areas, said Jeff Gehring, Bighorn National Forest snow sports coordinator. “Observing good etiquette will go a long way in reducing conflict between user groups and providing a great outdoor experience for all winter recreation seekers. Enjoy, be safe and thank you for visiting your National Forest.”

Fishing doesn’t have to end after the snow falls. Ice fishing on forest lakes such as Sibley and Meadowlark Lakes is popular in the winter. Make sure you always have a buddy and ice fish not alone. Make sure the ice cream is at least four inches thick and is clear and firm. If the ice is cloudy, don’t go out unless it’s at least 8 inches thick. Bring a flotation device and carry an ice ax in case someone falls in. Check with the Wyoming Game and Fish for regulations. There is also a great map to help you learn what species of fish are in each body of water in the state of Wyoming, wgfd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=61d1fb66ead443e2af51aa2ada1f1eaa. Please note that snow or motorized vehicles are not permitted on Sibley Lake.

Riding your fat bike in the snow is fantastic exercise and a unique way to explore the forest. Be careful not to overestimate your abilities the first time and stick to shorter routes. It’s a good idea to carry a map and compass or GPS device along with your patch and first aid kits. Most of our Nordic trails are great options, but be sure to follow trail etiquette. Avoid cycling when conditions leave deep ruts in the groomed surface and stay off ski tracks.

The Bighorn National Forest has two downhill ski areas and five Nordic ski areas. There are also a few backcountry areas that are off-limits to motorized use and are great for skiing or snowshoeing. For more information, see our visitor map at fs.usda.gov/main/bighorn/maps-pubs.

The most popular winter activity in the Bighorns is using snowmobiles. With nearly 350 miles of trails, most of the forest is open to exploration. Many of the trails lead to cabins and warming huts, and offer visitors many days of horseback riding and play opportunities. In addition to your Wyoming State Snowmobile decal, be sure to bring a map, shovel, extra food and water, and your avalanche safety gear. Always leave your daily routine to a responsible person and stick to it. take a friend; It is best not to drive alone. Downloadable maps are available from Wyoming State Trails, wyoparks.wyo.gov/index.php/snowmobile/snowmobile-maps-trails.

If you encounter wildlife along the way, remember that winter is an exceptionally stressful time for them. Please give them space and do not try to approach or chase them with your machines. We want to make sure they come back next year and enjoy the summer.

Whatever you decide to do in the Bighorn National Forest, be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out and prepare accordingly. This includes making sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. All the planning and extra steps will pay off, after experiencing winter in the Bighorns you will want to keep coming back for more.

Sarah Sports is Public Affairs Officer for the US Forest Service in the Bighorn National Forest.