When I moved here 8 years ago, I did so naively, with the lofty idea that I could easily handle anything the Wyoming winter threw at me.
(I had absolutely no basis for this belief, as I grew up in Oklahoma and only experienced the square state during the warm summer months as a child.)
I would simply throw on a cute sweater with some cute boots and navigate the perfectly plowed streets with ease before returning to a cozy home… I thought.
I’ll spare you the gory details of my first few winters here and just say that they were rife with shivers, discomfort, poor planning and plenty of curse words.
Here are is a list of 6 things I have learned since that have helped me Winter in Wyoming like a Wyomingite:
🧣 The Girls Wearing the Cute Winter Outfits Live in The South
A winter coat in Oklahoma is not the same as a winter coat in Wyoming. I thought a mid-weight jacket was a coat for many years before moving here. I can tell you now that they are very different things. If you’re planning to visit or move to Wyoming from a warmer climate, plan to also adjust your idea of what constitutes a winter wardrobe. While it is possible to dress cute and fairly warm, it is much less practical.
Coverage and weight are preferential above all else. If you want to have that open-coat cute scarf moment…be prepared to do so at a cost. Wyoming wind does not play and your best bet is to come as close to resembling a real-life Michelin man as humanly possible for much of the winter months. (At the very least until you adjust.)
🚘 Your Sport Tires Won’t Cut It
I thought all tires were created equal. They are not. And not much can prepare you for punching the pedal to the floor as your sporty little vehicle slides uninhibited down the hill you’ve been desperately trying to climb. Just trust me on this one. Invest in good tires and/or a 4WD vehicle. The summer tricks you into thinking you’ll be just fine, but you absolutely will not.
🧦 Not All Socks Are Created Equal
If you’re spending any amount of time below 32 degrees, you’ll quickly find out that keeping your feet warm is essential. Thin dress socks will leave your feet feeling (or rather not feeling) like frozen (numb) little nubs at the end of your legs. Invest in thick, warm socks and you will never regret it.
🧥 Layers Are Your Best Friend
Your socks, your shirts, your pants, your jackets, layer on up. This one took me a good while to learn. In the last 3 years or so I’ve started to be intentional about layering – even at home. I used think I could come home and strip off my coat and be fine. I’d inevitably find myself trapped under a blanket unable to emerge, firmly cemented in a spot where I would stay bundled for the rest of the night. So, add a long sleeve under your crewneck or some leggings under your jeans. Compiling a wardrobe composed of light, mid and heavy layers will help you avoid being uncomfortably cold and add to your enjoyment of the season more that you know.
🕐 Flexibility is Your Middle Name
Getting too attached to your schedule or travel plans will set you up for disappointment. Highways are frequently closed for hours and sometimes days at a time. In-town travel can be slowed dramatically as people who haven’t learned #2 try to navigate the icy roads. Watch the weather (WYDOT), try to avoid highway travel on stormy days and leave early for in-town travel after a good pelting of snow.
🤸♀️ Keep Moving
Long, harsh winters can take a toll mentally and physically. Crummy conditions can leave you frustrated and gloomy days can start to wreak havoc on your mood. I’ve found the best way to combat the winter blues is by being intentional about staying active.
Research has shown that physical activity can help improve your mood, lessen anxiety and prevent and improve other healthy issues. Whether it’s bundling up Michelin Man-style for an outdoor walk, engaging in winter sports, signing up for a gym membership/rec pass or serving up epic NERF wars in your home, staying active during the winter is maybe my favorite tip for navigating winter life in Wyoming.