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To escape the heat of the summer or ski a few runs in the winter, head up Casper Mountain, being sure to stop at the pullouts to take in the view of the plains stretching north toward the Bighorn Mountains. The mountain rises 8,000 feet above sea level, and there are campgrounds, hiking trails (try Garden Creek Falls), ski tracks, groomed snowmobile tracks, and mountain-biking trails. Another popular destination for outdoor recreation is Muddy Mountain. Much of the public land here is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, 2987 Prospector Dr. (tel. 307/261-7600). The office has maps and other information available. At Mountain Sports, 543 S. Center St. (tel. 800/426-1136 or 307/266-1136), you'll find winter and summer outdoor equipment and plus rentals. The Ugly Bug Fly Shop, 240 S. Center St. (tel. 307/234-6905; www.crazyrainbow.net), is a great angler's resource, with advice, gear, and guides ($350-$380 per day per boat).

There are some great hiking opportunities on Casper Mountain, including the Lee McCune Braille Trail, which enables visually impaired visitors to enjoy the beauty of Beartrap Meadow, with interpretive Braille markers describing the area's ecology. The Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau can provide you with maps detailing this and other hiking trails.

Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park (tel. 307/577-5150; wyoparks.state.wy.us) is a pleasant day-use park just 6 miles east of Casper off I-25, where you'll find huge old cottonwoods over the North Platte River. The park has hard-surfaced walking paths, a canoe- and raft-launch ramp, a swimming area, picnic tables, and a playground. There is also an accessible fishing pier, and excellent bird-watching opportunities for species including cormorants, yellow-billed cuckoos, golden and bald eagles, and numerous ducks. The park is open daily from 7am to 10pm; admission costs $6 per vehicle.

Skiing

A cheerful little ski area is a big plus in an area of sometimes howling winters, and Casper has a fine one in the Hogadon Ski Area (tel. 307/235-8499; www.hogadon.net), situated atop Casper Mountain (drive south on Wyo. 258 from I-25 to Casper Mountain Rd.). It has a 600-foot vertical rise to a top elevation of 8,000 feet. Two double chairs and a Poma lift cover its 60 acres of groomed trails, and there are also on-site equipment rentals, a snack bar, and a ski and snowboarding school. Nearby, a county-owned cross-country ski area (tel. 307/237-8098) is groomed for skating and track skiing. The ski area generally opens around the first of December and closes sometime in April. Lift tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for students 13 to 18, and $25 for children 5 to 12. During ski season, Hogadon is open Wednesday through Sunday, plus holidays (except Christmas Day), from 9am to 4pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.