Do you want to prove that Wyoming is tougher than Arizona? A fun bet between the two states provides Wyoming residents with the chance to show how tough, rugged, and adventurous they really are.

The directors for the State Parks Departments in Wyoming and Arizona have made this year’s First Day Hikes Program interesting with a little wager on the turnout. The director whose state has the lowest percentage increase of turnout will have to wear a pink cowboy hat for an entire day.

Want proof? That’s in the bet too. The loser not only has to sport the hat, but has to participate in what is sure to be an unforgettable photo shoot while posing in the attire.

While it may be fun the see Domenic Bravo, Wyoming State Parks Director, in a pink cowboy hat, we all know that Wyomingites don’t want to lose to Arizonans.

How can you help Wyoming win?

It’s simple, all you have to do is participate in one of Wyoming’s many First Day Hikes opportunities. The idea behind First Day Hikes is to create a national campaign that begins the year with people moving and staying active while appreciating the outdoors.

Coffee and hot chocolate will be provided, although bringing your own water and snacks is encouraged. Some locations will have a bonfire as well. This is a kids and family friendly event, and entry fee to participating parks will be waived. Leashed dogs are welcome.

So what’s the catch? Well, the First Day Hikes all take place on the first day of the year.

That first day of the year part can get pretty tricky, as Wyoming isn’t exactly known for sunny January weather. Yes, Arizona is considerably warmer with less snow, wind, and all around crummy winter weather, but are we going to let them take advantage of Wyoming like that?

Does Wyoming even stand a chance against a warm state like Arizona?

The toughness of Wyoming residents can’t be overlooked in this kind of competition, and don’t forget that the contest is about who increases their turnout by the most percentage, not necessarily who has the most people hiking in the long run.

We know Wyoming folks can take on any weather; they do it on a regular basis. Paul Gritten, non-motorized trails program manager with Wyoming State Parks, says it is more about dressing appropriately for the weather than it is about the actual cold and snow.

“It’s not really about the cold, it’s just how you dress. If you dress in layers, we can pretty much handle any weather that’s out there,” says Gritten. “And actually, it makes it more rewarding in the end—kinda adds to the bragging rights.”

Need more incentive to hike?

Yes, there is something in it for you too.

Each location will raffle off one annual day use permit to one of the hikers in their area. That is over $30 in value for Wyoming residents, and about a $60 value for non-residents.

Statewide, a drawing will take place and one lucky hiker will win a down jacket, worth about $200, from Mountain Hardware. The winner gets the choice of the color, size, and if it is a women’s or men’s coat.

Where can I participate?

Those wishing to participate are encouraged to notify the State Parks of their participation in advance. This will help the different areas have a general idea of how many people plan on attending.  You can notify them of where you will be participating and how many people will be with you by emailing Paul Gritten Paul.Gritten@wyo.gov or by calling 307-777-6323.

If you are unable to notify them in advance, Gritten says you can still show up for the hike. Advanced notice is not a requirement for participation.

The following is the list of participating First Day Hikes in Wyoming:

  • Bear River State Park - Short two and a half mile nature hike along the Bear River. Hike distance will vary upon participant’s abilities. Meet at the Visitor Center. Begin at 10 a.m.
  • Curt Gowdy State Park – Up to four mile hike on a trail to be determined. Meet at Aspen Grove Trail head at 1 p.m.
  • Edness K. Wilkins State Park – There will be two walks. One will be wheelchair accessible and the other will be on natural surface on the nature trail. Each two miles. Begin at 10 a.m.
  • Fort Bridger State Historic Site – One mile hike/walk around the historic site. Meet at entrance booth at 1 p.m. The hike is mostly level with no inclines.
  • Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site – up to two mile hike, meet at bridge tender’s house parking lot at 10 a.m.
  • Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site – One and a quarter mile hike on Nature Trail and park road. Meet in main parking area at 10 a.m. Sneak peak at new visitor center displays and exhibits.
  • Keyhole State Park - Starting at the Headquarters building and hiking to the Tatanka group shelter and back (approximately one mile) 10 a.m.
  • Sinks Canyon - Sinks Canyon hike will start at the Nature Trail Parking Lot in the Popo Agie Campground and proceed approximately two miles along the Canyon Loop trail. The start time will be 9 a.m. Refreshments will be served in the Sage Yurt in Popo Agie Campground upon completion.

To learn more about First Day Hikes nationwide, visit naspd.org.