In the summer of 2014 Judy and I had camped for a week in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and we didn’t even know we were just 15 miles from one of the prettiest drives in Wyoming. I’d heard of the Snowy River Range before but I had no idea it was a scenic byway or just how pretty it was. The only reason I found it this trip was that I’d been doing so much research about all the Scenic Byways and pretty drives in Wyoming; otherwise I would have driven right past it again. This year I was using these guides books so I didn’t miss the best things, you can get them from Amazon here: The Most Scenic Drives in America, 120 Spectacular Road Trips and also this one: National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways,The 300 Best Drives in the U.S. and finally this one: Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places
I’m so glad I researched and found it because it was a truly beautiful drive! Like I’ve said in previous posts, one of the ways I judge a drive is by how often I’m tempted to pull-over and take pictures and how good the pictures are. Using that as a criteria, this is one of the prettiest drives in Wyoming!
The mountain range itself is fairly small and it’s very pretty but not outstanding. Basically it’s a long and very steep cliff face and if that’s all there was it wouldn’t be as great as it is. What makes it really spectacular are all the little lakes that are at the base of the mountains and the creeks that flow out of them. Together, they create a beautiful foreground and background for a photo. I was there fairly late in the summer, but to my total surprise the wildflowers were still in very nice shape and abundant. If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know by now that’s one of my favorite photos: wildflowers in the foreground, lakes or rivers in the middle ground and beautiful mountains in the background. That shot was very easy to find here!
Another thing it has going for it is that early in the morning it’s easy to get great reflection photos of the mountains before the wind kicks up. That’s especially true because the range runs from southwest to northeast which means the beautiful morning sun hits it perfectly. But, what really sets it apart are the great number of pretty dispersed camping sites in the area. It’s no problem at all to find a campsite a few minutes’ drive from the most beautiful part of the Range. In this post I’ll tell you about camping and give you some of my photos, and in the next summer travel post I’ll concentrate on photos.
I read some reviews that compared it to the Grand Tetons but I think that’s silly; while it’s certainly very beautiful, and you should plan to go there on any trip to Wyoming, there’s almost nothing on the planet that compares to the Tetons! However, the Tetons has very limited free camping nearby and the traffic and crowds can be a major problem. The Snowy Range is just the opposite, it has an abundance of free campsites and it’s almost entirely locals that go there. Another advantage the Snowy Range has is it’s hard to take an original photo at the Grand Tetons because it’s probably the most photographed mountain range in the country. But, when you look at the pictures in this post, the area will probably be new to you, in fact it’s likely you’ve never seen or heard of it before.
In the medicine Bow NF here are many Forest Roads to drive down and you can find dispersed camping on all of them. The one I camped on was FR 103 and it had a lot of great campsites on it. There is a spider web of roads back there and you can find one that will give you a perfect campsite. Because I prefer to be alone, I kept taking side-roads until I was far from the RVs. It’s easy to find because it is on Mile-Marker 46 of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway.
My guess is you could easily spend your whole summer here just by camping further back and staying out of sight. I had almost no internet in the area around the Snowy Range itself but we did have it last year where we camped about 15 miles north of the Range and still in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. The northern edge of the National Forest is just above Interstate 80 and we picked up a decent Verizon 4g signal off of it. The nearest shopping is in Laramie about 30 miles away, it’s a good size town and has a Walmart and everything else you could need.
The bottom line is if you ever travel through Wyoming, this one place I very highly recommend you stop, enjoy and get some great photos! It’s especially good in the first two weeks of August when the wildflowers are near peak and it’s so much cooler than the plains around it. In my next travel post I’ll show you more photos from there.
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It’s easy to drive right past the most interesting and beautiful places. These are books from Amazon I recommend to avoid that:
- Readers Digest The Most Scenic Drives in America: The Most Scenic Drives in America, 120 Spectacular Road Trips
- National Geographic Most Scenic Drives in America: National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways,The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.
- Off the Beaten Path: Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places
I’m waiting for you and Cody to snap a picture of the elusive bigfoot, and make a million dollars
That would be very nice tommy!
thank you for another taste of the summer that was, and for introducing us to another beautiful spot to visit. I would really love to plop myself beside on of those lakes for a couple of weeks!
Me too Ming. My problem is there are so many places to discover that if I go back to explore old ones more, who knows what I’ll be missing out on!
Based on my past experiences, the picture of Wyoming in my head was Tetons, Yellowstone and otherwise a lot of blah. But your series on Wyoming has me wanting to go there next summer.
Al, I had exactly that thinking so it came as a total surprise to me as well. I just thought it was all the Tetons and Yellowstone with a lot of plains in-between. Boy was I wrong!
Oh my gosh, I have just added the Snowy River Range to my trip…..what a stunning place! Thanks so much for showing it to us.
Janis, I think you’ll be glad you did!
Come on summer! So many great places to see …. when and if I’m ready to leave Camp Bob that is. ;))
Debra, you are almost there now, you’ve come a long way in a very short time!
What a fantastic image of Cody against the mountain range! You ought to enter that in a photo contest.
Thanks Diane, I liked it too!
The pictures of Wyoming are fantastic , I have been enjoying your travels through Wyoming because I have a uncle that moved there after WWII and he loved exploring the mountains. He would look out his window and say “I never get tired of looking at the mountains”. Your pictures give me a glimps of some of the places he may have enjoyed, thank you for all you do. Rcb
You’re very welcome RCB!
Also while you are in the area you should stop by the Hobo Pool (its free!!) near Saratoga Wyoming. It is an old hot springs that is at this point unimproved, but at one time was a nice hot springs. Uncrowded. Oh No! The Hobo Pool has been improved and bathing suits are required, also no alcohol etc. Times do change.
The Hobo Pool:
108 to 119 degrees
The Not So Hot Pool:
maintains around 100 degrees
Saratoga Hot Springs
Open 24/7 all year.
We live in northern Colorado, and the Snowy Range was always one of our favorite motorcycle rides. Wonderful sweepers! Now that I’m getting into part-time van life, I look forward to doing some camping up there. Thanks for this post. We have a lot of wonderful camping in Colorado, but I have a feeling that places like the Snowy Range have a lot fewer people.