Laramie, Wyoming

9 Socially Distanced Fall Adventures, Naturally

When you want to really get away from it all, come to Laramie, Wyoming. As the air turns crisp, the leaves explode into hues of gold, orange, and red, turning this small country town into an autumn playground with acres upon acres of pristine scenic landscapes. We’ve got nine ways you can lose yourself, only to find yourself in the great outdoors.

# 1

1.Hiking: Take Your Peak

Take advantage of the idyllic fall weather and hit the trail. With striking granite peaks, placid alpine lakes, and verdant mountain groves, hikers of all levels can explore Laramie’s wild and rugged landscapes.

Looking for a scenic trail to stretch your legs on? Check out the moderately trafficked Vedauwoo Trail (that’s VEE-da-voo), just 25 minutes southeast of Laramie. Good for all skill levels, this 0.6 mile-long paved trail offers a taste of Wyoming outdoor exploration. For hikers seeking a longer trail, Turtle Rock Loop is the way to go. Also located in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area, Turtle Rock offers visitors the chance to see towering granite rock formations and indigenous wildlife.

Just 40 minutes west of Laramie is the Snowy Range — home to numerous other hiking opportunities. Open during the summer and fall, this recreation area boasts one of Southeastern Wyoming’s tallest peaks. Take on the popular three-mile-long Medicine Bow Peak Trail and summit the challenging 12,013-foot-tall Medicine Bow Peak. Visit one of Laramie’s local outdoor shops to get outfitted for your next expedition, and explore the veritable wealth of trails the region has to offer.

Local Tip:

Visit one of Laramie’s local outdoor shops to get outfitted for your next expedition, and explore the veritable wealth of trails the region has to offer.

# 2

2.Mountain Biking: Life Behind Bars

Situated at the epicenter of hundreds of mountain bike trails, visitors and residents alike have a wide array of trailheads to pick from in Albany County. Whether you’re seeking an easygoing ride or a downhill shred, Laramie has it all.

Visit one of Laramie’s three bike shops to get outfitted for your ride and let knowledgeable local staff help direct you to the best trails to explore in the area. The Happy Jack Trailhead is a favorite among locals. Located 15 minutes southeast of town, Happy Jack provides a multi-use network of trails for both beginner and advanced riders. Here you’ll find everything from steep single track to wide meandering fire roads.

Another local go-to is Curt Gowdy State Park, which contains some of the most extreme trails in Wyoming. Located 30 minutes southeast of Laramie, mountain bikers can access a large-scale network of challenging single track trails. Advanced riders can take to the Stone Temple Circuit or the Gold Standard and practice their skills on steep drop ins, switchbacks, log jumps, and berms designed specifically for mountain bikers. When in doubt, follow the trail information posted at every trailhead and intersection and customize your level of challenge. 

Local Tip:

“Play areas” refer to areas where riders can climb and descend massive granite boulders on their mountain bikes to practice and put to the test their skills. Not for the faint of heart!

# 3

3.Fishing: Get Hooked

Southeastern Wyoming is home to some of the best lakes, rivers, beaver ponds, and reservoirs to catch Cutthroat, Brown, Brook, and Rainbow trout. With ease of access, Laramie offers visitors a world of fishing opportunities to explore.

Hunt for trophy trout in the wide-open Laramie Plains Lakes, where record-setting lunkers wait at the ready for every type of angler. The larger lakes, like Lake Hattie, offer boating and the promise of deeper waters. Tackle a smaller lake like Lake Meeboer for some easy wading if fly fishing is more your style. Just 20 minutes from Laramie city limits on Highway 230, the Plains Lakes are sure to delight this season.

For fishing closer to town, head 30 minutes southwest and check out Jelm Public Access. This scenic stretch of the Big Laramie River flows through canyon walls, forming ideal fishing spots in pocket water and undercut banks.

Another great spot to explore is Vee Bar Guest Ranch just 30 minutes west of town. Located on private property, the Little Laramie River flows through the ranch, making it a secluded and well-maintained fishing spot for novice and experienced guests alike. Large tree overhangs and high waters make Vee Bar an ideal fall fishing location.

For more information on regulations and fishing licenses, visit a local Laramie outfitter or Wyoming Game and Fish.

Local Tip:

Check out the beaver ponds in the Happy Jack area — just 15 minutes from town — to catch “brookies,” or brook trout.

# 4

4.Horseback Riding: Horsing Around

Located in the heart of the Old West, your trip to Laramie would not be complete without a horseback riding excursion. Check out the Vee Bar Guest Ranch to participate in an immersive, family-friendly dude ranch experience. Let your inner cowboy or cowgirl hit the trail with your trusty equine companion and explore the lush meadows and high plateaus of Southeastern Wyoming. At the Vee Bar, riders and horses are paired based on experience level, and all rides are adapted to suit each individual. Lope along the Little Laramie River and experience the changing colors of fall.

Local Tip:

Mountain weather can be unpredictable. Be sure to check the forecast before embarking, and pack the appropriate resources.

# 5

5.Off roading: Take to the Off Road

Experience autumn in Laramie’s backcountry aboard an all-terrain utility task vehicle, or UTV. These off-road vehicles can seat between two and six people each, and are an exhilarating way to explore the deep canyons and alpine meadows of the Snowy Range. Visitors can rent these vehicles at Albany Lodge and begin discovering more than 500 miles of dirt road recreation opportunities in the Laramie area.

Local Tip:

All vehicles need proper Wyoming permits when operating from all off-road vehicle (ORV) trails. If you’ve brought your own toys, be sure to purchase permits before hitting the trails.

# 6

6.Rock Climbing: Reach New Heights

Locals will tell you that there’s no place in Wyoming like Vedauwoo Recreation Area to climb. Conveniently located just 25 minutes outside Laramie, this recreational hotspot is known throughout the climbing community as the “climber’s crossroads.” Situated between the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Tetons, Vedauwoo attracts a spectrum of climbers from trad, top rope, and bouldering enthusiasts. Explore the best and most advanced wide crack climbing Wyoming has to offer. Whether you’re interested in climbing as an avid aficionado or a casual observer, this area offers a wealth of entertainment and activity for visitors and residents alike.

Local Tip:

Don’t forget your tape! While these rock formations are beautiful, they can also be coarse-grained and very sharp.

# 7

7.Wildlife Viewing: Nurture Your Love of Nature

Interested in seeing a herd of pronghorn? Want to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle? What about elusive predators like black bears or mountain lions? Wildlife viewing opportunities in and around Laramie are second to none, and fall is one of the best times of the year for viewing.

Check out the 1,968-acre Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge and get the opportunity to see a plethora of species. Located just 20 minutes south of town, this refuge has a spectrum of habitats to explore from open-water wetlands, upland brush, and grasslands, to alkali flats. For prime viewing, head to the refuge at either dawn or dusk when animals are most active. Though it’s never guaranteed you’ll get to see all the creatures on your bucket list, sightings of coyotes, jackrabbits, deer, pronghorn, and waterfowl are not uncommon. Moose, elk, and yellow-bellied marmot can also be found in the higher elevations of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway.

Local Tip:

Southeast Wyoming is a popular place for photographers. Want to capture the perfect wildlife picture? Make sure your device is always fully charged before your expedition so you don’t miss a moment.

# 8

8.Scenic Drives: Let the Road Lead You

Measure moments, not markers this fall. Take a leisurely scenic drive through the vast and unbelievable landscapes surrounding Laramie and discover the joy of the journey.

Go where you’ve never been before and take the Snowy Scenic Byway, a road that traverses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range. Originally developed in the 1870s as a wagon road, the Snowy Byway is now one of the most stunning scenic drives to take in the United States. Experience the serenity of deep glacial lakes, granite peaks, pastoral planes, and sagebrush prairies.

From the main scenic byway, explore Sand Lake Road, a gravel forest road that accesses a menage of day trip hiking trails and gorgeous red fall color. Access the beautiful mountain lake — for which this detour earns its name — and discover a world of camping, fishing, and canoeing opportunities.

Be sure to budget time into your trip for the extra stops along the way, Sand Lake is not the only detour you can take. There are numerous outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities along this road you won’t want to miss.

And while this highway is one of the shortest of Wyoming’s scenic byways, both in length and number of months it can be driven, it remains one of the most popular. Depending on how much time you take to explore, the Snowy Scenic Byway can take anywhere from one hour to numerous days to pass.

Local Tip:

Stop by Mountain View Historic Hotel and Café along WY-130 for a cup of in-house roasted coffee.

# 9

9.Wandering Downtown: Urban Exploration

While Laramie is known for its outdoor recreation, the city of Laramie has a wealth of opportunities to explore as well. Take a walking tour of the Laramie Mural Project, which utilizes downtown public space to showcase large-scale, local murals. Stroll the streets and discover all the Insta-worthy art Laramie has to offer.

After your walking tour of city art, quench your thirst at any one of the region’s many microbreweries. Afterward, fill your belly at Sweet Melissa Cafe, a local favorite known for their casual Vegetarian eats and relaxed ambiance. For Mexican-American cuisine and margaritas on tap, check out Speedgoat. And at Alibi Wood Fire Pizzeria & Bakery, visitors can get a taste of Laramie’s best gourmet pizza and homemade breads, with live music and fire pits to boot.

Local Tip:

Dig into the heritage of the area and venture outside of downtown to learn more about Laramie and Wyoming’s history. The Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site is only two miles away.

Whether it’s extreme recreational sports, relaxed outdoor exploration, or urban discovery, Laramie has it all.