5 Bighorn Mountain Backcountry Secrets for Snowmobilers.
5 Bighorn Mountain Backcountry Secrets for Snowmobilers
Most of the time, when sledders from out of town visit the Bighorns they just head for the hills without a thought out plan of where to ride. Of course there are times when you can’t go wrong when choosing an area, but unfortunately this doesn’t always happen no matter what mountain range you ride. The Bighorns are notorious for microclimates making it difficult to select the right terrain. Microclimates (the snowmobiler definition), are restricted zones that receive dramatic differences in weather than the surrounding areas. Elevation, wind, and temperature all play a role in our decision making. One our favorite tools to use is the snotel data provided by the National Resource Conservation Service. Our experts at Sled Wyo strategically plan a days ride with our clients using this resource to determine which climate got the best results out of the most recent storm. When you book a guide with us, you are getting the knowledge, experience, and a once in a lifetime memory all at an affordable price. Here are the top 5 secret spots that our research usually leads us towards.
Skull Ridge: Just up the hill and little bit North of the town of Dayton, Skull Ridge usually gets the best out of the Alberta Clippers. An Alberta Clipper is a small storm that comes down from Canada that contains tons of energy. These storms just clip the Bighorns and can dump a foot of snow in just a few hours. It’s not uncommon to see the higher elevations only receive a skiff of snow while Skull Ridge can get up to two feet. This is what makes this area such a hidden gem. By watching recent storms closely, we can determine when the best time to ride Skull Ridge is.
Granite Creek: Granite Creek is about an hours drive from Sheridan on the Westward side of the mountain. This is the go-to place for when that big storm hits. You don’t have to spend time getting there on the trail. Once you unload at Granite Pass you’re instantly boondocking. Granite Creek is is less than two miles from the parking lot and is a very steep and deep canyon. The abundant spruce trees create opportunities for interesting lines that even pro-riders would get a kick out of. At approximately 9500 ft with many north facing slopes, the snow piles up very quickly. The base is usually the deepest and the best quality in this area making traction easy to find .
Shell Canyon: This is about an hour and a half drive from Sheridan but is well worth it. Shell, which is very close to Granite Creek, is extensive with a variety of untracked creek drainages that are just asking to be carved up. Long pulls make Shell a hillclimbers paradise. Throw in the aspen groves that call this area their home and you have a playground straight from heaven. The views are breathtaking as you look upon the 189,000 acre Cloud Peak Wilderness.
Redgrade: A 15 minute drive from Sheridan, Redgrade is off the beaten path from all the tourists that make their way up highway 14A in the Northern Bighorns. There are no lodges nearby which means far less traffic. Redgrade is the best trail to take if you’re looking for scenic mountain vistas and panoramic Wyoming views. This is the lowest elevation of riding in the Bighorns which makes it truly unique. You are literally riding on the face of the mountain. Since it is so close to town, cell service isn’t hard to comeby like it is for the rest of the mountain.
Black Mountain: An iconic and scenic landmark, this area is home to the most technical tree lines you can find in all of Wyoming and even in the West. The lodgepole forest covers hundreds of square miles allowing you to hold a line for hours if you were motivated to do so. We love taking clients here because they get to see firsthand what true tree-riding looks like. Black Mountain makes you a better rider no matter your current skill.
The Sled Wyo experts call the Bighorns their home and we are always eager to show anyone our favorite places to ride.When riding with us you get an educated decision on where to ride and you are able to get the best possible experience from the Bighorn National Forest. If you’d like to explore the Bighorn Mountains firsthand rather than read about them, book a guided tour with us here