Snowy Range Scenic Byway, Medicine Bow National Forest – A Photo Essay

The Snowy Range Scenic Byway crosses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range and includes nearly 30 miles of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest portion of Wyoming Highway 130. It passes between the towns of Centennial and Saratoga, but it’s what is in between that is spectacular.

Originally a wagon road built in the 1870s, the road was paved in the 1930s and designated as the nation’s second Scenic Byway in 1988. Snow usually closes the highest section of the road early to mid-November and snowplows traditionally open the road in May right around Memorial Day weekend. Guess when we arrived? Two days after Memorial Day weekend. So, yay!

My brother Dave and I stayed in Laramie the night before, then leaving Laramie and traveling west on the Scenic Byway, we drove through the open plains of the traditional Old West where the deer and antelope still play. Sorry. 27 miles west of Laramie, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, lies the historic mining town of Centennial, and the start of the uphill climb.

My hiking buddy Dave told me stories about the Snowy Range being one of the most beautiful places he had been. Since we were so close we just had to check it out. Dave (Griztrax Dave, not brother Dave) was right. It’s stunning. We spent about three hours crossing the 30 miles from Centennial to Saratoga. There are plenty of stops and lots to see.

Particularly when you get to the Libby Flats area with its CCC built stone observation tower you can seemingly see forever. You are surrounded by snow capped mountains in every direction and alpine lakes around every turn. Starting on the sagebrush prairie and climbing to a high-altitude alpine environment with old growth spruce-fir forest containing wind-shaped krummholz, we experienced all the ecosystems presented by the Rocky Mountains. All the while the 12,013 foot Medicine Bow Peak towers overhead.

Brother Dave and I agreed while enjoying lunch later in Saratoga that we would definitely come back in the future to tackle some of the plentiful hiking trails found along the byway. There are lots of campgrounds available to stage into the designated wilderness areas found within the national forest. Below is a gallery of photos I took while we were passing through. Perhaps they will entice you to also visit the Snowy Range Scenic Byway in south-central Wyoming.



This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

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