SHERIDAN — As Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area approaches its Dec. 20 opening day for its second season since reopening after 15 years, staff and volunteers are working to increase offerings and expand community partnerships.
For the 2019-2020 season, the resort will have about 90% of its skiable terrain open, up from 10% last year, according to Antelope Butte Foundation Development Coordinator Kristin Burnett.
In addition to the expanded open terrain, the mountain will also have all three of its ski lifts open as opposed to just one last year. Burnett said the mountain has a pretty good base of snow for this point in the year.
The lodge remains under construction, but the first floor, which houses the ski rental operation and ticket office, will be open for the start of the season. Burnett said she hopes the upstairs commercial kitchen will be completed in summer 2020.
Over the past year, the resort received its five-year use permit from the U.S. Forest Service, built a yurt, added to its stock of rental gear and trained instructors and ski patrollers, Antelope Butte Foundation Executive Director John Kirlin wrote in the foundation’s December newsletter. The resort has also developed a youth ski school program and will host Sheridan Junior High School and Sheridan High School cross-country ski practices throughout the season and a state junior high cross-country race on Jan. 25.
“None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the support, encouragement and generosity of our many volunteers, donors and corporate sponsors,” Kirlin wrote.
Last week, the foundation received approximately $1,900 in a ski-season kickoff party hosted at Luminous Brewhouse in conjunction with Big Horn Mountain Radio Network.
Big Horn Mountain Radio operations manager Spencer Porden, who organized the event with Kirlin, said around 250 people gathered at Luminous Brewhouse for a night of 80s ski gear, classic ski films and raffled skis and snowboards to support and celebrate the start of the ski season.
“I learned to ski there when I was a kid,” Porden said. “It’s kind of close to my heart.”
On Dec. 28 and 29, Antelope Butte will host the Big Horn Rush Sled Dog Challenge and will hold Community Nordic Day Feb. 8.
Burnett said the foundation is currently seeking to hire additional ski and snowboard instructors and accepting volunteers.