SHERIDAN — As the winter season deepens, more snow should fall in and around Sheridan County. The Bighorn Mountains have had solid amounts of powder since October and will likely see more of the white stuff over the next several months.
With more precipitation likely on the way and the holiday season approaching, people are more likely to traverse Mother Nature with outdoor gear. For those citizens who enjoy the occasional hike in the snow but are not fully committed to outdoor adventuring, rentals can serve as a viable alternative to purchasing gear.
Here are some of the rental options around town for different snow-related items.
The Sport Stop manager Michelle Maneval said customers started renting snowshoes after significant snowfall in mid-October. They can be rented for a day, weekend or full week.
Maneval said people commonly rent the items for short-term excursions like getting a Christmas tree or visiting a cabin in the mountains for the weekend. Locals who are hosting friends or family members from out of town also frequently rent equipment.
Maneval said adults rent most of the equipment, but entire families sometimes do, as well. Maneval said she enjoys seeing children pick out skis or snowshoes, saying from personal experience that family exercise is often an excellent way to spend a couple hours.
“I snowshoe and cross-country ski with my kids, and it’s a blast,” Maneval said. “You look at things in a whole new light when you take the kiddos with you, for sure. They see things in a different way.”
Cross-country skis and poles
Maneval said skis and snowshoes are about equally popular. The Sport Stop has snowboarding equipment for rent as well, but she said those are not rented nearly as often.
Technological advances with apparel have helped keep people more comfortable outside.
“It’s not a factor of getting so cold,” Maneval said. “The cold doesn’t have to stop you.”
Most people ski in higher elevation areas, commonly on Sibley Trail and Cutler Trail in the Bighorn Mountains. Trail reports are available on the Black Mountain Nordic Club website, and provide updated information on how receptive the trail surfaces are to winter activity.
South Park in Sheridan, which has about a half-mile loop, is one of the only local groomed ski trails. People also cross-country ski in the open field area behind Tongue River Middle School in Ranchester.
Maneval said ski equipment is in particularly high demand around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and prepaid reservations are required because all of the skis and poles will be rented out. If business is extraordinarily busy, the store sometimes makes retail items available for rent.
Sheridan Bicycle Company rents these heavy-duty transportation items. Co-owners Jordan and Calie LeDuc said the store rents fat bikes for one-day use on a first-come, first-served basis.
Jordan LeDuc said most people who rent are local residents interested in possibly purchasing a fat bike but want to try it out first. People ride bikes around town but also on trails in the mountains, near Lake DeSmet or in Buffalo.
Like the items at The Sport Stop, fat bike demand is usually busiest around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Dec. 1 is also busy because it marks Global Fat Bike Day. The LeDucs are going on a large group ride Saturday in Buffalo with the Bomber Mountain Cycling Club from Sheridan and Fat Fish Racing from Casper.