Sheridan, WY – Work is presently underway clearing slopes and trails at Antelope Butte of brush accumulated over more than a decade of neglect, in preparation to reopen one of Wyoming’s lost ski areas.
The Antelope Butte Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit non-profit formed in 2011, purchased the shuttered 45-year old ski area northwest of Sheridan, along U.S. Highway 14 between the towns of Dayton and Shell in northern Wyoming. In June the group received a federal permit from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to restore the facility. The special use permit allows for restoration of the lodge, chairlifts, ski trails, and other facilities of the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area.
“Closing on the purchase of the facilities this past spring, and getting the permit to start restoration are big steps forward in our efforts to get Antelope Butte opened as a year-round recreation area,” said foundation President Mark Weitz. Bill Bass, Forest Supervisor of the Bighorn National Forest added, “Issuance of this permit is one more step displaying the Antelope Butte Foundation’s diligence in pursuit of their goal to reopen the ski area.”
The mountain’s trails range in elevation from 8,400 to 9,400 feet, yielding a 1,000-foot vertical drop. Its two double chairlifts and one tow have remained silent since 2004.
Over the summer, contractors and volunteers removed old carpet, drywall, and other interior surfaces from the base lodge, and secured the exterior against the elements. A local architect and structural engineer drafted plans for the renovation of the building, in cooperation with a general contractor, all of whom are donating their services.
Volunteers are also being utilized to reclaim the ski trails by removing small saplings and clearing debris on specified work days, focusing on the ski trails historically called A and B as well as service areas around the mountain. One so-called “Beaver Day” took place on September 10, while another has been scheduled for this Saturday. More will take place in October if weather permits. Volunteers are invited to participate any time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on a Beaver Day, and bring along pruners or chain saws, as well as work gloves and water.
“Since purchasing the ski area in May we have had an outpouring of offers for volunteer support,” said Executive Director and Ski-EO Andrew Gast, “These Beaver Days are great ways for anyone interested to help us repair our ski trails and get some sweat equity in Antelope Butte.”
Antelope Butte was issued a road use permit in May, allowing the foundation to conduct basic maintenance to the access roads and to plow snow. Renovation of the lodge is planned to continue through the winter and the goal is to restore the chairlifts in summer of 2017, in preparation for a grand opening later that year.