CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST

The southwest corner of Montana is known around the world as a winter sports mecca, but have you ever wondered how this came to be? While the adrenaline-filled sports of downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling tend to dominate the conversation today, the origin of winter recreation is rooted in the slower-paced sport of cross-country skiing. For millennia, people around the world have connected with winter landscapes through cross-country skiing, and so can you.

To help guide you on this journey, the Forest Service’s Hebgen Lake Ranger District is offering free guided cross-country skiing programs once monthly throughout the winter. Guided tours will take place on West Yellowstone’s Rendezvous Ski Trails on Jan. 20 and Feb. 22 from 1-4 p.m.

The program focuses on how people have used cross-country skiing not only as a means of survival, but also as a way of connecting with the winter wonderland that is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The stories of how cross-country skiing and West Yellowstone have evolved are inherently linked, with no better place embodying this than the Rendezvous Ski Trails. From the stomping grounds of the fur trappers in the 1700s to the training site for athletes bound for glory in the 2002 Olympics, this area is steeped in a rich history.

The guided cross-country program will start and finish at the Rendezvous trailhead building located at 101 S. Geyser St. in West Yellowstone. Participants should be ready to ski 5 kilometers. Please note this is not a clinic, skis will not be provided, and all participants should have a trail pass.

To RSVP and for more information about the cross-country tours, contact Sam Wiswell at (406) 823-6987 or swiswell@fs.fed.us.

The Hebgen Lake Ranger Station will also offer free programs on making survival snowshoes and guided snowshoe tours on the Refuge Point Trail this winter.

Provided at the Hebgen Lake Ranger Station, learn about the history of and how to make emergency snowshoes using tree branches and paracord. Branches, paracord and tools will be provided. Due to time constraints, space is limited and participants will only construct one snowshoe. This course is offered Jan. 27 and Feb. 24 from 4-7 p.m.

To RSVP and for more information on this course, contact Mia Gilbert at (406) 823-6982 or mariagilbert@fs.fed.us.

As a final offering, the Forest Service will host guided snowshoe tours. Explore the Refuge Point Trail while learning about the location’s significance during the 1959 earthquake. We will meet at the Hebgen Lake Ranger Station to caravan to the trailhead—note that snowshoes will not be provided. These tours are available Jan. 26 and Feb. 21 from 1-4 p.m.

To RSVP and for more information, contact Joanne Girvin at (406) 823-6965 or jgirvin@fs.fed.us.