Skiing isn’t the only thing to do in the Bighorns
Kody Hendricks has been searching for honey holes in the Bighorn Mountains for 36 years. For those unfamiliar with sledder slang, a honey hole is a hard-to-access location that has excellent terrain and excellent snow for snowmobiling.
“I’ve been riding up there since ‘85,” Hendricks said. “I’ve pretty much been over every inch of that mountain.”
In addition to sledding for personal enjoyment, Hendricks takes clients into Bighorn National Forest through his outfitting, rental and retail company, Ultimate Outdoors, LLC. His love of the sport is fueled in equal parts by fresh powder and the satisfaction of sharing his knowledge with others. He is especially fond of introducing people to the sport.
“It’s a good feeling to see the joy in their face when they accomplish something that they didn’t think they could do,” Hendricks said.
Bighorn National Forest is a snowmobiler’s paradise.
The forest boasts 270 miles of regularly groomed trails, 96 miles of ungroomed trails and an immeasurable canvas of off-piste terrain. The season opens December 1 and lasts through April 15.
For beginners, groomed trails offer an opportunity to get used to the physics of riding a snowmobile without having to deal with deep snow and variable topography. It’s important that riders feel comfortable with the mechanics of accelerating and cornering before moving on to “gnarlier” terrain.
“Riding without technique is no fun,” Hendricks said. “All you do is fight your sled.”
For Hendricks, an expert snowmobiler, the most rewarding days on a sled are spent riding miles away from established trails. But the prospect of turning off an established route into unfamiliar slopes can be daunting for non-locals.
“You’re talking about millions of acres of forest up there,” he said. “It’s pretty intimidating to someone from Kansas. I always say you can spend a couple of days in the area without finding any of the good spots.”
Luckily, there are plenty of guides like Hendricks that can take newcomers to their favorite powder stash. To learn more about winter recreation in Bighorn National Forest go to FS.usda.gov/bighorn.
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