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Winter in The Great American West

January 15, 2019 USA News No Comments

The Great American West is a wonderful winter holiday destination with top ski resorts, national parks offering winter access and a vast array of non-ski winter activities and events that the whole family will enjoy. Top winter activities on offer include skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding and ice fishing, along with winter wildlife watching, photography tours, and stargazing to name but a few. The Great American West also has unique accommodation that will bring you closer to nature than ever before. Check out the 2019 news for The Great American West states including Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming below.

South Dakota

What’s new?

News at Mount Rushmore Memorial
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the iconic sculpture of four past presidents; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, carved into the mountainside and is a major draw card to the state of South Dakota for tourists around the world. An upgrade of the area and facilities will begin in 2019 including a widening of Avenue of the Flags. This will allow more efficient movement for tourists around Mount Rushmore, increase accessibility, and provide better views of the sculpture. Mount Rushmore will stay open to visitors during the upgrade. The Mount Rushmore Half Marathon will run again this year on September 21 from the Ghost Canyon Dude Ranch to Keystone, providing incredible views of the Black Hills.

Open House Weekend for 2019
South Dakota has announced their Open House Weekend for 2019 where all South Dakota state parks will have free entry and fishing where no licence is required. The Open House Weekend runs from May 17-19, giving you free entry to incredible parks such as Custer State Park, Bear Butte State Park and Palisades State Park.

South Dakota winter activities

Black Hills snowmobiling trails
The Black Hills Snowmobile Trail System is ranked top ten in North America by SnoWest magazine andSuperTrax InternationalIf you want to go snowmobiling, head to South Dakota which has a 350-mile network of marked and groomed snowmobile trails in the Black Hills. This trail system runs from the northern hills through central and southern parts of South Dakota. The trails are spectacular, taking you through deep canyons, pine forests and to lookouts with unbelievable views.

Spearfish snowshoeing
One of the best places to go snowshoeing is in Spearfish, where you can explore nearby recreational areas at Spearfish Canyon, Big Hill and Crow Peak. You can borrow snowshoes for free from South Dakota State Parks for a day or a weekend. If you are just starting out, you can explore the sights on flat snow or if you want to challenge yourself you can go snowshoeing up and down hills. Snowshoeing is a fun, simple activity the whole family will enjoy as it allows you to see spectacular winter forests you might otherwise miss.

Featured accommodation
Spearfish Canyon Lodge
Spearfish Canyon Lodge is nestled among enormous cliffs and pines and is the ideal place for a relaxing family holiday as kids stay here for free! The main lodge consists of 54 luxury rooms and has a rustic design with log walls. Rent a bicycle, UTV or snowmobile to explore the surrounding nature trails and wildlife, and go bird watching or fly fishing for some extra fun. To discover a magical setting, go for a short hike to see the beautiful Roughlock Falls, where Little Spearfish Creek plunges down creating a waterfall. Relax in the outdoor hot tub to stay warm in the colder months or enjoy a delicious meal made by local chefs at The Latchstring Inn.


What’s new?

Big Sky Resort upgrades
Big Sky Resort is developing an innovative new lift system for the 2018/19 season. This includes ‘The Ramcharger 8 chairlift’ that will whisk skiers from the base of Mountain Village to the top of Andesite Mountain, and the ‘Shedhorn 4 High Speed’ which will shorten time on the Shedhorn side of the mountain. In December, they had a ribbon cutting for the first eight-person chairlift in North America!

Free entry days for parks in 2019
The National Park Service has announced five free entry days for parks in 2019; January 21, April 20, August 25, September 28, November 11. This gives you free entry to well-known parks like Yellowstone (Did you know three of the five entrances to Yellowstone are in Montana?) and Glacier National Parks. This is great news as the annual U.S. National Parks pass usually costs U.S. $80.

Montana Winter Activities

Big Sky Resort
Big Sky Resort is the second largest ski resort in the U.S.A. and offers 5,850 skiable acres, four mountains, 36 lifts and over 300 runs. You can take the Lone Peak tram to the top of Lone Mountain to enjoy 300 degrees of skiing as well as breathtaking views of three states and two National Parks. The resort’s efficient tram system means that there are basically no lines, allowing you to have more time to ski than you would at other resorts. If you don’t feel like skiing or snowboarding, you can have fun snowshoeing or speeding down the zip-line! See above for the new lift system that is being developed.

Whitefish Mountain Resort
Another popular (but less well-known to Aussies and Kiwis) ski destination in Montana is Whitefish Mountain Resort which is ranked as one of the top 10 ski resorts in North America according to readers ofSKI magazine. As it is near the border of Canada, it is easily accessible as part of the ‘Powder Highway’. It’s not hard to see why the resort is ranked so highly, as it has 3000 acres of skiable terrain, 105 marked trails and areas for bowl and tree skiing. While staying active on the slopes, you will be treated to spectacular views of Glacier National Park and surrounding lakes and valleys. New for Winter 2018/19 is phase 2 of upgrades to Ed & Mully’s Bar & Grill.

Sleigh ride dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch

Featured accommodation
Lone Mountain Ranch, Gallatin Gateway
Established in 1915, Lone Mountain Ranch allows you to authentically experience Montana by staying in one of 24 comfortable private cabins, many of which were built when the property first became a cattle and horse ranch. You can explore the outdoors by going horseback riding, fishing and mountain biking. The ranch also offers tours of Yellowstone National Park where you could spot elk, black bears, bison, and wolves. After a day outside, relax with a drink in the lodge’s saloon while listening to live Western music. Just 40 minutes from Bozeman Airport, Lone Mountain Ranch is an ideal winter destination with over 80 miles of high-quality Nordic Trails for skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding. You can even go for a charming ride through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh with friends or family.


What’s new?

Winter at Yellowstone National park
Are you planning a winter trip to the park this year? Yellowstone National Park opened to the public for snowmobiling on December 15. This means that you can now travel the park’s interior roads on commercial snowcoaches from the West and South entrances.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ranked #1
In December 2018, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was ranked the ‘#1 ski resort in North America’ by Forbes Magazine, making it the eighth year in a row that they have won. The resort also opened the Aerial Tram and the Sublette Chairlift in December, offering more efficient skiing and snowboarding for visitors.

Red Reflet Ranch offers cooking classes
Red Reflet Ranch is a 25,000-acre working ranch and luxury resort in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The ranch is offering a new series of unique one-day cooking classes with the executive chef. The cooking classes have different themes including St. Patrick’s Day, homemade noodles, and chocolates. Check out the 2019 dates of the cooking classes here.

Wyoming winter activities

Jackson Hole 
Jackson Hole is a popular destination for Australians to go skiing or snowboarding due to its vast terrain that suits all abilities. Jackson Hole has just opened Solitude Station which is located at the Sweetwater Gondola mid-station only two minutes from the base. Solitude Station provides a new area for both children and adults to learn more about skiing and snowboarding through its Mountain Sports School which offers both private and group lessons. Jackson Hole is known for having natural terrain, however it also has two terrain parks and four Burton Stash parks which include man made features such as wall rides, wooden quarter-pipes, jumps and rails. Stay here in March to be part of the Jackson Hole Rendezvous – a spring music festival with performances from legendary musicians.

Grand Targhee Resort
Grand Targhee Resort is another top skiing and snowboarding destination in Wyoming (and only an hour’s drive from Jackson) and the Winter 2018/19 season marks the 50th anniversary of its opening. With an average of over 500 inches of snow per year without the huge crowds that are usually present at top ski areas, Grand Targhee Resort is the perfect place for winter fun. The resort features 15km of groomed Nordic Ski Trails, a skating lane, and Kids Club (day-care) allowing you to tackle the harder slopes while your children are looked after. Join the Grand Targhee Ski & Snowboard School to improve your ski skills through private or group lessons for adults and children.

Featured accommodation
SpringHill Suites Jackson Hole
Located in downtown Jackson, SpringHill Suites Jackson Hole is a new hotel that opened in 2017. The hotel offers comfortable accommodation, complimentary breakfast, free wi-fi, a 24-hour fitness centre, outdoor pool and hot tub. Located in the heart of the city, you will be just a few steps away from high quality restaurants, bars, shops and shows. The hotel offers complimentary shuttles to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort which has top quality skiing and snowboarding terrain with magnificent scenic views.


What’s new?

Museum of Idaho has announced their 2019 travelling exhibits
The Museum of Idaho has recently announced that the themes of their 2019 travelling exhibits will be scientific innovation and dinosaurs. ‘Archimedes: Science and Innovations’ will run from January to September and celebrate Greek mathematician Archimedes who had important inventions in the ancient world. This exhibit allows visitors to solve puzzles and interact with unique machines he designed. Whereas ‘Darwin & Dinosaurs’ will run from September until May 2020 and features 13 casts of dinosaur skeletons, as well as rare artefacts from Charles Darwin’s voyages.

Sun Valley Resort upgrade
Sun Valley Resort has exciting upgrades for 2019 including guest room renovations and a return of the historic archway that will welcome guests to Sun Valley Village just as the original version did.

Idaho Winter Activities

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is the perfect place for winter fun with its ski terrain, Nordic and snowshoe trails and 800 ft. tubing hill. You will be able to ski all day long since Bogus Basin has 2,600 acres for day skiing, as well as 165 acres for night skiing. In December 2017, they added Idaho’s first alpine mountain coaster called Glade Runner. The coaster travels up to 40 kilometres per hour for 1,220 metres through the beautiful woods of Boise National Forest. Riders can control their own speed by pressing the handles, which makes it the perfect winter activity for the whole family.

Sun Valley
With more than 3,400 vertical feet and over 2,000 acres of terrain, Sun Valley is a great place for skiers and snowboarders. It has two mountains – Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain – both with various chairlifts and ski runs for different abilities. If you want to improve your ski skills, take lessons from the resort’s Snowsports School which is suitable for both adults and children. Sun Valley offers day care, so you can drop off your child for ice skating, bowling and art, while you enjoy a day on the slopes. For comfortable, stylish accommodation, stay the night at Sun Valley Lodge which includes five Celebrity Suites named after stars who have stayed there before including Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway.

Featured accommodation
Teton Springs Lodge & Spa
Teton Springs Lodge & Spa offers luxurious accommodation with panoramic views of Idaho’s Teton Valley. The property is perfect for the winter as it has cross country ski trails and Heli skiing, and is close to two amazing ski resorts. It is a cost-effective alternative for those wishing to ski at Grand Targhee Resort or Jackson Hole in Wyoming as it is only a 40 minute drive from Jackson Hole but located on the Idaho side of the mountains. Head to the main level of the lodge to relax with a massage, body treatment or facial at Stillwaters Spa. Go golfing at the lodge’s Headwaters Club which includes a 9-hole Par 3 course and a practice area or have a bite to eat at on-site restaurants Headwaters Grill or Natural Retreats Storehouse.

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