Fresh powder is a coveted commodity in the snowmobiling business, and riders in the Snowy Range are over their heads in the bounty of recent storms.
“We’re hearing reports of up to 7 feet of powder up near the top of the range,” Hunter Wright, director of operations at Albany Lodge, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
“It’s gotten so deep in places, people are even getting stuck out on the flats,” he said, adding that 4-5 feet of powder has been reported across most of the Snowy Range’s extensive snowmobiling network.
It’s shaping up to be a banner year for sledding, meteorologist and snowmobile enthusiast Don Day of Cheyenne told Cowboy State Daily.
“The deep powder snowmobiling is just incredible right now in the Snowies and the Sierra Madre,” he said. “Those mountain ranges have benefited from the California storms. The way those storms came in, it just channeled everything into north central Colorado and southeast Wyoming.”
That’s making for some phenomenal riding, he added. Day himself hasn’t been into the mountains since around New Year’s, but videos friends have sent him have left him eager to go again.
In the videos, those riders “look like snow sharks going through all that powder,” he said.
Highway Closers Dampen Early Numbers
The Snowy Range in southcentral Wyoming is a premier snowmobile destination, Day said.
Huge open meadows near the top of the range allow people to cut loose in a relatively safe environment that has something for riders of all skill levels.
Wright said that with the word getting out on social media about just how good conditions are, he expects a wave of business at the lodge.
However, weather-related closures along Interstate 80 and other major routes have kept many out-of-state powder hounds from getting to the trails just yet.
“As soon as that (highway) opens, I think we’re going to get pretty busy,” Wright said.
The Albany Lodge, and the Snowy Range in general, is highly popular with snowmobilers from the Midwest, Wright said.
“We get a lot of visitors from Nebraska and Iowa, and quite a few people from Minnesota as well,” he said. “We also get some folks coming up from Colorado, because they want to escape all the hustle and bustle in the mountains there.”
Avalanche Danger Lurks
Things bode well for snowmobiling and skiing across the state, Day said.
“They’ve gotten more than 5 feet of fresh powder at Jackson Hole,” he said.
However, much of the powder has fallen on crusty snow from earlier storms that partially melted and then refroze. That can make for extreme avalanche danger, particularly on steep slopes, he said.
“People need to be aware of that and be cautious,” Day said.
And the heaviest snowfall still hasn’t hit, he said.
“The really big water content storms are yet to come in March and April,” he said. “This year is really trending toward the mountain snow season of 2010-2011. The Little Snake River and North Platte River drainages are well above average.”