The transition at the ranch is officially underway as the fall colors are bursting, the air is getting crisper and the first snowfall creeps closer. We had a great summer with one of the best seasons ever for fishing in the Buffalo Valley and Teton Wilderness.

But now our focus starts to shift to all things winter. Our primary concern is the 20 km Nordic trail that is the backbone for all cold-weather activities. By the time guests arrive, it’s buried under several feet of snow. Getting it ready for guests and visitors requires constant vigilance.

“The trail in many ways is our highway,” said Ron Stiffler, general manager at the ranch. “In the summer, it’s the route we use to take guests out for horseback rides and overnight pack trips. Winter, it becomes our track for Nordic skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.”

Clear the Way

The constant use of the route requires vigilance on everybody’s part to keep the path clear of debris and hazards. Throughout the summer, ranch hands trim back trees and brush that impede the path.

In late fall, we make one final sweep to make sure the path is ready for snow. The work that is done before winter hits is critical because it determines how well the track will be ready for the heavy use it gets during winter.

Gear Up

The switch to the winter season also ushers in an intensive review of all the related equipment from skis, to snowshoes, to snowmobile clothing to the snowmobiles. We’ve made repairs and replaced or upgraded equipment where necessary.

Upcoming Season

Early forecast projections are calling for an above-normal snowfall this winter. Fingers crossed that the “Farmer’s Almanac” is correct.

We’ve made a few tweaks to our winter activities to better tailor the options to what guests want. Our half-day family guided snowmobile tours are perfect for getting everybody out to really experience the beauty that lies along the Continental Divide Trail. It’s 500 miles of wilderness that stands in stark relief with trees and land blanketed in snow.

We’re also excited for the fourth annual free ski day on Jan. 5 that we host at the ranch and is sponsored by our wonderful partners Jackson Hole Nordic Alliance and others in the community. It’s a great day where we not only get to show off the cross country trail but give locals, guests and visitors a chance to maybe try a winter sport they wouldn’t normally experience.