Antelope Butte Reopening This Winter
Photo: Antelope Butte Foundation
My memories of Antelope Butte are like memories of a hometown: detailed and hard to enumerate. Every bump and turn of that mountain has more than one memory embedded in it. I was skiing as soon as I could walk, and Antelope Butte was the local ski area.
I was tortured by the original t-bar that used to be the only way to the top, a test of endurance for the knees. One time, I saw my friend picked up by his suspenders at the top; saved at the last minute from going around and back down the mountain by my tall father. Sometimes, on the last run of the day, we would edge over into the treeline and head down to his family cabin for the night, and ski again in the morning.
I was there every weekend in the winter, taking the YMCA bus, if my parents wouldn’t drive me. I skied hard in too-small boots until my toenails fell off. I saw the trails expand, the chairlift go in, and the advent of snowboarding. I can still taste the nacho cheese and apple cider.
Eight years ago, when I moved back home to raise my kids, I was shocked to find that Antelope Butte had closed. As they say, “You can’t go home again.”
I don’t ski much these days. I have a bad knee and back, and a ski trip can be a big production with two kids. We take at least one trip to Red Lodge, Montana every winter, but it isn’t the same as having a local ski area and a culture devoted to downhill skiing.
I’d sure like my kids to know what it was like.
The Antelope Butte Foundation, a grassroots effort to reopen Antelope Butte, was founded in 2011. Since then, they have raised $2.3 million toward their goal of $4 million. Although that is only a little over halfway, that doesn’t stop them from opening the mountain for skiing … wait for it … this very winter!
If you haven’t been paying attention to the Antelope Butte Foundation recently, you will be surprised by the leaps and bounds they have made. Just last week, they installed the last chair and all-new electrical drive control systems in a complete restoration of the two original lifts.
Additionally, on October 4, the State Loan and Investment Board approved a requested $185,600 BRC Community Development Enhancement grant for the purchase and installation of a 250-foot conveyor-style surface lift for beginner skiers at the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area.
Grant said that they plan to open this winter, though the lodge won’t be open, so they will “make other arrangements for that.”
So, that’s two freshly restored chairlifts and a brand new “magic carpet” for beginners. The Antelope Butte Foundation is looking for help this weekend with a “Chairlift Work Weekend.”
According to the Antelope Butte Foundation, work that they are looking to complete this weekend includes:
– Installing Plexi-Glass Windows in the lift shacks
– Installing foam insulation in the lift shacks
– Minor welding
– Cleaning and prepping the garage for framing
– Cleaning and painting the motor rooms
– Miscellaneous chairlift painting and applying new chair numbers
If you are interested in helping, they ask that you bring work boots, gloves, and warm clothes. Food and drink will be provided.
If you have any questions, please contact John at 307-277-3235 or Tony at 307-752-4059