When someone first arrives in Southern Wyoming it can be hard to figure out what there is to around here. The landscape is intimidating to say least, someone who is unaccustomed can lose their sense of scale when gazing out across the large high desert valleys, and snowcapped mountains that line the horizons. Where locals feel totally accustomed and at home, newcomers can easily be intimidated by the sheer size of everything (I know I was).
But despite the openness and seeming emptiness of the landscape, there are many hidden gems of recreational opportunities that lay waiting within the vastness. This guide is for those who feel the earning to explore their new surroundings and need a push in the right direction, the map that is embedded into this post shows some of my favorite places to go during free time that has helped to satisfy my yearning for adventure.
All of these places are on public land surrounding Laramie home of the University of Wyoming. The University attracts a large number of students from out of state and internationally because of its affordability and quality educational opportunities, though for new students the surroundings can be slightly intimidating and money to recreate can be tight. But Wyoming has plenty of public lands with plenty of opportunity for everyone if you just know where to go.
Perhaps one of the better-known places in the area, Vedauwoo has something to offer for everyone. It is incredibly accessible from Laramie only a short 15 min drive East along interstate 80, Vedauwoo has some the oldest exposed granite in North America. The landscape is comparable to the iconic National Park Joshua Tree in California but lacks the congested roads and crowded trails that you will find there. At Vedauwoo you will find miles trials that will that can take you as far as you like to go back into Medicine Bow National Forest, camping amongst the unique rocky spires, and even day-use picnic areas to have a nice day out in the sun. This area is accessible year-round, though during the winter months you will have to park your car and walk in, though on a light snow year this can mean that you have to area practically to yourself.
Happy Jack Road offers a range of opportunities for people looking to a little more “free-from” exploration of the Medicine Bow National Forest Happy Jack offers miles and miles of Forest Service roads to satisfy the craving. This location offers the would-be and experienced off-roaders the opportunity to get off the beaten path and discover the true beauty of the public lands around Laramie.
Snowy Range Ski Area
It can be hard to find something to do in the long winter months, but the Snowy Range Ski Area can offer the perfect reprieve from the wind because of its protected location and gives people the opportunity it hit the slopes. Whether you are a first-time skier or an experienced alpinist Snowy Range offers the perfect opportunity to get always from the grind of school for the weekend and experience the mountains with friends. Because of its size and locally owned roots, it is very affordable, offering day lift tickets and season passes that are reasonable to even the most frugal of college students.
Curt Gowdy State Park
Curt Gowdy offers something for the whole family; there is camping, fishing, boating and small hikes that can keep anyone busy for a long weekend, the Granite Springs Reservoir is a little-known oasis, a favorite spot for locals and is definitely a good place to go to unwind and have a good time in the outdoors.
Medicine Bow Peak
For those looking for more of a challenge, Medicine Bow Peak offers the classic Wyoming alpine experience. With vistas allowing you to see for miles and nearly untouched wildlife, this hike is the accessible challenge that many day hikers crave and search for, finishing is rewarding and every step of the way is beautiful in its own way.