Polar Bear Plunge

Start The New Year With An Icy Dip In A Local Lake

Every New Year’s Day at Lake DeSmet, 8 miles north of Buffalo on Interstate 90, some of the bravest and hardiest souls (or craziest and nuttiest, depending on your point of view) from all over northeast Wyoming brave the freezing winds and winter weather to jump into the icy waters during the annual Polar Bear Plunge. Some say their reason for taking the plunge is to get a clean start on the new year, others to prove they can, and still others have no idea why, they just do. Organizers cut a section of ice from the frozen lake, install a ladder into the water and stand by to keep the line of jumpers moving and help them out of the near-freezing water after their dip. Upwards of 100 jumpers show up every year with typically twice that many choosing to watch. The annual Polar Bear Plunge has been going on for many, many years but isn’t officially organized, so if you care to participate or just watch, take exit 51 off of I-90, follow the signs to the Mikesell-Potts Recreation Area, and head to the boat ramp. The plunge happens at 1 o’clock in the afternoon every January 1st. Be sure to get a t-shirt while you’re there commemorating your plunge, with proceeds helping a local animal shelter.