Steve Kilpatrick and Silas the mule pull Kilpatrick’s grandchildren back to the top of a sledding run near the kids’ home outside Lander on a frigid December day. (Stephanie Oland)


A Jackson Hole Mountain Resort lift ticket for a child 14 years old or younger costs $91 during the 2017-18 holiday season. Silas the mule will do the job for a handful of oats — carrot gratuities appreciated.

“We didn’t have TV when the kids were growing up,” Steve Kilpatrick said of the family pastime. “No reception out there at the cabin. So we made our own fun.”

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When his kids were young, Kilpatrick used stock to pull sledders back to the top of the hill on his property near Hoback Junction. As they grew more competent, sleds were swapped for skis. Before long he and the family horses were charging through the powder, pulling young ones in their wake like water skiers behind a motor boat.

The “Wyoming rope tow” has now become a winter mainstay for Kilpatrick’s grandchildren as well — one that he and Silas are happy to see continue.


Matthew Copeland is the chief executive & editor of WyoFile. Contact him at or (307) 287-2839. Follow Matt on Twitter at @WyoCope

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  1. To paraphrase a certain movie outlaw, we don’t need no stinking industrial complex. Love the photo! Oh What fun!

    Northern Crook County, Wyoming