And that would be Wyoming, not Canada 😊. Although it’s a short 40-mile drive from here, we rarely visit our friendly neighbors to the north, with a few exceptions. Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are, of course, spectacular, and we have driven through the state many times on our way to visit our son Philip and his family in Montana. Many years ago, we made an annual trek to Wyoming to purchase fireworks that were, ahem, unavailable (i.e., illegal) in Colorado. Thankfully, our criminal ways came to an end when we decided to be good role models for our young children.
This summer’s pandemic hiking tour included two nice day hikes in southern Wyoming – a return trip to Vedauwoo Recreation Area between Cheyenne and Laramie . . .
. . . and a first time hike in the Snowy Range west of Laramie.
Both hikes are less than a 2-hour drive from home.
Vedauwoo Recreation Area
The most prominent feature of Vedauwoo is ROCKS. Rocks everywhere you look. Specifically, Sherman granite rocks, some towering as high as 500 feet. For those that pay attention to such things, Vedauwoo is renowned for world class off-width crack climbing – click HERE for more information and close up photos. For those of us who prefer to keep both feet on terra firma, there are several hiking trails to choose from.
The trip in early July was at least the fourth time I’ve been to Vedauwoo, and it’s a favorite ‘go to’ hiking choice. The large rock formations are super cool, with something new to see around every bend.
For casual rock climbers, hiking offers ample opportunities to get off the beaten path and play. I’ve included a few photos from earlier trips in the gallery below.
Other than rocks, is there anything worth seeing at Vedauwoo? These photos are all from my most recent visit in July:
PLUS a special bonus – I saw a mama moose and her two young ones ambling through a picnic area right as I was leaving. Unfortunately, no photo evidence exists, but I can tell you it was a treat!
Snowy Range – Lookout and Lewis Lakes
Wildfires in the western U.S. during late summer and early autumn 2020 led to days and weeks of hazy skies, poor visibility, smoke-filled air, and even falling ash from time to time. The closest wildfire – the Cameron Fire – had a particularly negative effect on our air quality in Fort Collins and closed the main road through the Poudre Canyon for over a month. (The stubborn Cameron Fire is still active at this time, and we don’t know how much longer we’ll be dealing with it.)
As I searched for a less smoky hike during one particularly stretch of bad air in late August, a tip from a friend led me to the Lakes Trail in the Medicine Bow National Forest west of Laramie, and I decided to give it a try. The 2-hour drive to get there wasn’t promising, but the skies cleared as I climbed higher in elevation.
By the time I reached the trailhead, visibility and air quality were both good, so I surveyed the landscape and set off for Lewis Lake.
The trailhead sits at 10,400 feet elevation, a fact that my lungs were acutely aware of. About 1.8 miles in, the trail crosses its highest point of 11,100 feet, with beautiful views of tall mountains, small alpine lakes, and abundant wildflowers along the way.
Then a steep descent for 0.9 miles to Lewis Lake, where I stopped and had a sandwich. More lakes, more mountains, and more wildflowers.
The wind picked up by the time I finished, and a few semi-threatening clouds also appeared. No rain, however, as I retraced my steps back to the car, starting with that steep climb back up to the highest point. Here’s what a section of the trail looked like:
The Lakes Trail hike was absolutely fabulous, and I look forward to a return visit, hopefully next summer.
Now here’s a question: how could we have lived here for 36 years and not known about this gem???