Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest
The Snowy Range Scenic Byway, WY STATE highway 130, was designated as the second National Forest Scenic Byway in the United States on August 26, 1988. The byway enters the forest 31 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming, and traverses west through the Medicine Bow Mountains (also known as the Snowy Range) for 29 miles to exit about 20 miles southeast of Saratoga, Wyoming. The byway is open during the summer from Memorial Day through October, weather permitting.
The distance from Laramie to Saratoga is 72 miles, which takes about two hours to drive. From Laramie to the top of the Snowy Range is 40 miles, which takes one hour to drive. From Centennial to the top of the Snowy Range is ten miles, a half-hour drive. A visitor center is located a mile west of Centennial. Elevations on the byway range from 8,100 to 10,847 feet. Vegetation includes lodgepole pine at the lower elevations, which gives way to spruce-fir and then alpine tundra at higher elevations. Next to the byway, there are many small lakes nestled against high escarpments, and large snowbanks persist throughout the summer.
This route is a popular recreation attraction with many picnic, camping, observation, and interpretive facilities. The Libby Flats Wildflower Trail is located 13 miles west of Centennial. This zone has a beautiful array of wild flowers that can be seen from early June through July. The Krumholtz vegetation associated with the alpine zone is also located in this area. The mountain ranges of Colorado can be seen from the Libby Flats Observation Point. A self-guided tour is available at Ryan Park. The campground was the site of a WWII prisoner of war camp. Handicapped-accessible facilities are available at Barber Lake and Lake Marie Picnic Grounds. Barber Lake has a handicapped-accessible fishing area, and Lake Marie has a handicapped-accessible trail that skirts the southeast shore of the lake.
At 12,013 feet, Medicine Bow Peak is the highest point on the forest and is immediately adjacent to the byways. There are several hiking trails accessible from the byway, including a trail up Medicine Bow Peak. This is a rigorous hike, not suitable for small children.
A trip along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway is a must when you visit southeastern Wyoming!
Where to Stop
Vedauwoo - The strange rocks of Vedauwoo are located on Pole Mountain between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming, directly off interstate 80. This is a popular area for rock climbers, photographers, and picnickers.
Laramie Peak - Laramie Peak, at 10,272 feet the highest point in the Laramie Mountains, is accessed from the trailhead at Friend Park Campground. This is a very steep 5.5-mile climb to a panoramic view at the top of the peak. The area offers excellent hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping.
LaBonte Canyon - LaBonte Canyon is an area of steep granite rock formations suited to climbing and photography. The steep canyon walls, along with stands of aspen and conifer, make the area most scenic. The canyon contains large populations of deer and elk, and bighorn sheep can sometimes be seen.
Black Mountain - Black Mountain, off of forest road 633, is a 3.5-mile hike with a Forest Service lookout tower located at the top. The tower is in operation from June until October, and visitors are welcome on the tower during this time.
Battle Highway - The Battle Highway, Wyoming Highway 70, leads across the Sierra Madre Mountains from Encampment to Baggs. This 28-mile-long stretch of scenic highway is open during the summer from Memorial Day through October, weather permitting.
Several historic sites are located along the highway, including the Battle townsite and Edison Monument. When mining was in its heyday, the town of Battle flourished. The Edison Monument is located near Battle Lake. While fishing on the lake, Thomas Edison got the idea for his light-bulb filament.
Battle Pass, on the Continental Divide, provides a wide vista of the Sierra Madre Range. North of Battle Pass, at 11,004 feet, lies Bridger Peak. This peak was named for Jim Bridger, a well-known mountain man.
In the fall when the aspen are turning, the drive from the Continental Divide to the west forest boundary offers a panorama of color. "Aspen Alley," north of the Little Sandstone Campground on forest road 801, provides a spectacular drive through the aspen forest.
Less than a mile west of the Sandstone Work Center is the Battle Creek Overlook. This overlook offers the visitor a panoramic view of scenic mountains from the Continental Divide west to Battle Mountain and includes numerous peaks on the Routt National Forest in Colorado.
Hog Park - The old tie-hack camp of Hog Park lies 20 miles south of Encampment on forest road 550. At the turn of the century, this camp produced railroad ties for the Union Pacific Railroad. Evidence of past activities still exists in and around this area.
The scenic Hog Park Reservoir was finished in 1965 and provides water to the capital city of Cheyenne. The reservoir is a popular area for fishing and boating.
Grand Encampment Museum - The Grand Encampment Museum, located in Encampment, Wyoming, is the archive for Region 2 of the U.S. Forest Service. Region 2 includes Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and eastern Wyoming. The museum also contains memorabilia from the area's rich history of mining and logging.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication