Local Perspective: Laramie Peak Itinerary
From a Traveler: Explore Southeastern Wyoming.
This itinerary was created by Bret Bartos, a finalist in Travel Wyoming’s 2019 Fly Your WY Road Trip contest.
Wyoming is a living, breathing postcard filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes as endless as a Wyoming horizon. What better way to experience this beautiful state than through a road trip?
The trip outlined here doesn’t follow the throngs to Yellowstone and the Tetons and Devils Tower. Instead, these roads explore areas in and around Laramie Peak, the 10,275-foot mountain that towers over Southeast Wyoming.
Day 1: Discover Old West History
You’ll get intoxicating whiffs of ever-present sagebrush and notice that Pronghorn, the Western Hemisphere’s fastest land animal, appear almost everywhere, as you begin your journey along the eastern Wyoming plains in some of Wyoming’s most fascinating historic places.
Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site
In the decades between 1840 and 1870, tens of thousands of pioneers headed north and west in wagons loaded with everything they owned. At the Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site, you’ll find some of the best-preserved such ruts still in existence on any stretch of the Oregon Trail.
Register Cliff State Historic Site
Just down the road from the Oregon Trail Ruts, these cliffs were a landmark for those travelers, a sign they were headed in the right direction – toward South Pass – and not toward the impassable mountains lurking in the distance. Countless emigrants carved their names in the sandstone, leaving behind hundreds of historical biographies that say, “We were here.”
Guernsey State Park
Head north to Guernsey State Park to enjoy spectacular geology, a reservoir of 2,400 surface acres, and 27 miles of shoreline. Fishing, boating, water-skiing, hiking and camping are here for the taking. Drive up to The Castle, the most amazing picnic shelter you’re apt to see anywhere, and if you’re up for it, hike up to Brimmer Point, where you’ll soak in 360 degrees of landscape from prairie to the massive reservoir to Laramie Peak looming to the west.
Take a 25-minute drive west from Guernsey and you’ll find yourself at this amazingly restored fort that sits on the Laramie River. Fort Laramie was established in 1834 as a fur-trading outpost, but it became the largest and most famous installation of western expansion before being closed in 1890. Stop in the visitor center, tour the buildings, and relive the days when Pony Express riders rode in on exhausted horses.
Day 2: Meet Laramie Peak
There are several very scenic, fun routes to Laramie Peak and its surrounding areas within the Medicine Bow National Forest. On this road trip, you’ll take Fletcher Park Road west. If the timing is right, you’ll see Laramie Peak just as the sun rises. Have your camera ready to take photos of the beautiful scenery along this drive, including grazing cattle, horses and pronghorn.
Continue north along this road toward the small town of Esterbrook, passing through aspen groves and waves of Wyoming’s state flower, Indian Paintbrush, along the way. If the Esterbrook Store is open, stop in to grab a beer or soda and catch up with the local hill-top gossip. Grab a cabin or campsite at Hubbard Mountain Cupboard or Esterbrook Campground if you’d like to stick around and explore this part of Medicine Bow National Forest, otherwise continue your scenic drive, taking WY-94 north to Douglas, where you can grab a sandwich and picnic right on the Platte River.
Day 3: Explore Palmer Canyon
Palmer Canyon Road
Day three takes you back into Medicine Bow National Forest on another scenic drive, this time exploring Palmer Canyon Road along the southern part of this region. The canyon views are spectacular and sublime all at once. Looking further west, you’ll notice the mountains seem to go on forever.
If you’d like, stick around into the night to see the sunset in an explosion of orange and pink. Then watch the stars come out to play. You’ll never find a darker sky for soaking in the stars. Once you’re finished taking in the views, head west to Wheatland for the night. From Wheatland, you can easily choose to relive any of these adventures or patiently wait for your next trip to Wyoming.