Trekking The Back Country
If Cross-Country Skiing is your thing, the Casper Nordic Center with its 42 kilometers (that's 26 miles!) of groomed trails is a great place to glide. Located on Casper Mountain just minutes from downtown, the Nordic Center offers not only cross-country skiing by day, but a lighted loop for night skiing. There are trail levels for all abilities, so grab your poles and go!
Adventure Guide Bob Matson has been coaching skiing almost as long as he's been a physical education teacher at Natrona County High School. "I Just love to ski, love wintertime," he says. "I had the offer to take over the ski team at Natrona 27, 28 years ago. It's been terrific." Casper, he notes, is "a real diamond in the rough," as far as skiing goes, for a lot of reasons. Early snow and terrific terrain are two of them. He also credits "the perfect blend of user-group and government - the county government and our local ski team ski club."
Long-time cooperation between these groups has brought about a world-class facility. What began as skate-skiing on the Nordic Center's current site has morphed into "42 k's of groomed trails," Matson says proudly. "There are about 50 k's of back country trails and snowshoe trails, right here within the confines of this park." Night skiing is available every evening as well, on the just over 1k lighted loop. However, Matson explains, the lights are expanded, lending the area about 5 k's of lighted, or semi-lighted track. He goes on to say that the facility is accommodating for beginners and advanced skiers alike. "We have a full range of terrain here, we're situated in a beautiful county park - it's really a pristine environment."
As for the lodge? "Back in the 'olden days,' so to speak, most of the people met down at the lower parking lot, and it was strictly 55 gallon drum!" Matson is, of course, referring to the first person on site lighting a fire in below zero weather, as there was no existing structure. Next came a little building with a propane heater, and finally, a 20 year old pipe dream came to fruition. The current lodge serves not only as the ski program headquarters, but a place to warm up and enjoy concessions.
If you need to rent equipment, Mountain Sports in downtown Casper will have you geared up in no time. The Nordic Center can also provide equipment for the kids involved in different ski programs. And group or private lessons are available, though arrangements must be made through the lodge.
Passes are required to ski the trails, however "the fee is more than reasonable," Matson assures. Passes can be purchased through Natrona County Road and Bridge, Mountain Sports and the Nordic Center itself.
Although Matson refers to the site as World Class, the changes continue. "We're currently in the process of developing a biathlon facility and biathlon trails just east of here," he explains. "That'll be another 30 k's of groomed trails." Plans include a stadium and shooting range, and Matson hopes to be shooting biathlon in about three years.
So come to the Adventure Capital and take advantage of the world-class ski opportunities - you'll be in good company! During the Salt Lake City Olympics, two olympic teams trained daily in Casper. The teams "really loved the place - loved the feel that it had," recalls Matson. Not only that, but National Championship skiers have emerged from Casper. But don't worry - there have been just as many folks who have come here strictly for the fun. "We've had a whole lot of people that have started to ski, and really love winter,"Matson agrees, "which is what this is all about."
For more information about the Nordic Ski Center, visit www.caspernordic.com, or give them a call at 235-4772.
To make hotel reservations for your visit to Casper please click here.