Wildflower season is upon us here in Laramie and it is sure to be great with all the extra precipitation we received this spring. The wildflowers are abundant throughout the area beginning in June and continuing throughout the summer. There is no shortage of places to find wildflowers in the Laramie area.
Pole Mountain and Vedauwoo
The first place you will see wildflowers in spring is East of Laramie in Pole Mountain. Pole Mountain consists of approximately 55,000 acres of land between Laramie and Cheyenne. Pole Mountain stands between 7,500 and 9,000 ft and consists of rolling hills, large rock formations, streams, lakes, and prairie grasslands. Contained within the Pole Mountain area is the Vedauwoo Recreation Area, the Laramie Mountain Range, Tie City trailhead, Happy Jack recreation area, numerous streams, and endless miles of open recreation area. The use of the area is free except at campgrounds, picnic areas, and some trailheads.
Ten miles East of Laramie is the Tie City Trailhead and Pilot Peak Road. This area has the most wild lupine patches in the Laramie area. You will start to find these purple blooms in mid-June with peak bloom between the 2nd and 4th week of June. There is also a patch of Golden Lupine right beside the Tie City trailhead if you are lucky enough to spot it. Lupines are part of the pea family. They are known to keep the soil rich because of how the bacteria found on the roots convert nitrogen to make plant food, actually helping other plants around it. The mature seeds of the Lupine contain alkaloids and can be poisonous to animals and humans if ingested. Other wildflowers in this area include Indian Paintbrush and Autumn Sneezeweed.
Golden Lupine, Tie City Trailhead
A couple of miles down the road you will find Vedauwoo Recreation Area. Vedauwoo has a landscape that will fascinate you with the carefully balanced rocks and huge and uniquely shaped granite rock formations. The formations are made up of 1.4 billion-year-old Sherman granite, one of the oldest rock outcroppings in Wyoming.
Vedauwoo is another hot spot for early wildflowers. Large patches of Indian Paintbrush can often be found around the entrance of the park. Indian Paintbrush is the state flower of Wyoming. There are over 200 species of Indian Paintbrush. It is the upper leaves of the plant that display the vivid colors as opposed to the actual flower on the plant. Indian Paintbrush is a parasitic plant that uses its roots to invade and live off of the nutrients of nearby plants.
If you are ready for a wildflower adventure, you should head down Vedauwoo Glen Road. It is a dirt road that connects Vedauwoo with Happy Jack Road. This is where Lupine can be found as well as Pasque Flowers and Balsamroot just to name a few. Along the road are 97 dispersed campsites equipped with fire rings and plenty of open space. The road to the campsites is not paved and can be hard to travel on especially after rain.
The Snowy Range Mountains
The Snowy Range is situated 35 miles West of Laramie. It is open seasonally from the end of May until anytime in October/November when the snow sets in. July to September is the best time to visit the Snowies. You will see an abundance of wildflowers and wildlife including marmots, moose, pica, and sometimes black bears and mountain lions. The mountains start at 9,000 ft. with Medicine Bow Peak going all the way up to 12,031 ft so make sure you are acclimated before trying to go wildflower hunting.
In the lower elevations, wildflowers can be seen as early as the beginning of June and higher elevations starting in late June. There is a great assortment of wildflowers in the park including Bisort, Indian Paintbrush, Sticky Cinquefoil, Ragwort, Alpine Sorrel, Arnica, Fleabane, Fireweed, and many more. Sky Pilot is a beautiful small purple wildflower that will only be found above 10,000 feet. It has a pungent odor which has earned it the nickname skunkweed. These flowers are often seen growing in clusters on the sides of mountains. The stalks of the flowers are topped with a dozen or so small purple blooms. These flowers are only in full bloom for a very short time so keep your eye open for them on your trip up to the Snowy Range in late June and early July.
Medicine Bow Peak Overlook
You will easily find wildflowers on any trail in the park. In late July, Sugarloaf Recreation Area and Lakes trail are the places to find the most abundant and diverse wildflowers. You will also have the most beautiful backdrop as you view the wildflowers, with the glacier-covered mountains and blue alpine lakes in the background.
Lakes Trail, Medicine Bow
Other places around Laramie that have wildflowers are The Plains Lakes, Laramie Greenbelt, and the mountains near Woods Landing off of WY- 230.
The Plains lakes are 15-25 miles west of Laramie. You can access the lakes from either WY-130 or WY-230. There are five lakes and reservoirs that include Hattie, Meeboer, Galett, Sodergreen and Twin Buttes. While the lakes are known for great fishing and boating there are many wildflowers surrounding the lakes including Goldenrod, Musk Thistle, and the Common Sunflower.
Meeboer Lake, off Hwy 230
Summer really brings out the best in Laramie. There is an abundant amount of activities and sites to see. Downtown is a great place to spend an afternoon, especially on Fridays when the farmers market is back in town. I would also like to add that even though they aren’t wild, there is a saturated hollyhock bloom in downtown Laramie in the beginning of August that is great for grabbing the perfect picture.