When Rocky Mountain resorts have shut down for the season, there’s always been a summertime option for skiers and snowboarders: Beartooth Basin in northern Wyoming.
This past snow season did not smile fondly upon the 600-acre area on the northeast side of Yellowstone National Park. So the only mountain in North America that opens exclusively in the summer will not do so this year -- for the second year in a row.
“We're sad to announce that we've suspended regular lift operations this season,” Beartooth announced. “Kind of a rough winter on the Beartooth front. We'll keep trying to problem-solve on these lean years. Many thanks for your support and understanding.”
NCRS Snotel data shows that the northern reaches of the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming received about 75 percent of normal snowfall this winter. Wintertime temperatures in the area fluctuated enough to keep the snowpack even at 10,000 feet elevation deep enough.
If spring storms bring sufficient coverage to the area, ownership may be able to fire up the two pomas that typically run from Memorial Day to July 5. Once the Beartooth Highway, a National Scenic Byway, opens, there will be backcountry terrain accessible off the numerous switchbacks leading up to Beartooth Pass.
Beartooth Basin began in the 1960s as a summertime alpine training center. Over the years, it has morphed into a public skiing and riding area as well – with terrain park features built in out of snow each season in Big Air Park.
The basin has 1,000 feet of vertical and reaches pitches of 50 degrees below a ridgetop cornice.
Tickets run $45 for all day, or $300 for the usual six-week season. Considering its remote location, tickets can only be purchased with cash. There are no warming huts or resort-type amenities.
The only other Lower-48 ski mountain that stays open in the summer is Timberline on the flank of Mount Hood.
Photos: Top - Wyoming's Beartooth Basin won't open this summer (Beartooth Basin/Facebook); Below - Another off snow year means no summer season (Beartooth Basin/Facebook)