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explore the Snowy Range, Sierra Madre Mountain Range & Upper North Platte River Valley
the snowy range
Named for large amounts of snow that remain at high elevations during the summer months, the Snowy Range offers excellent outdoor recreation and pristine mountain scenery.
The friendly community of Centennial, Wyoming lies just outside the east entrance of the Snowy Range. There are a handful of places to stay, eat and refuel--plus the Nici Self Museum, which is housed in the 1907 Hahns’ Peak & Pacific Railroad Depot.
The Centennial Visitor Information Center, located just outside the forest boundary, has maps, brochures, passes, permits, books, and schedules for interpretive programs.
snowy range scenic byway
The nationally recognized Snowy Range Scenic Byway (Highway 130) is Wyoming’s second highest pass. Typically open Memorial Day through October, weather permitting, this route offers easy access to many picnic areas, campgrounds, observation and interpretive sites and a large network of roads and trails. It extends between Centennial and the Upper North Platte River Valley.
Threading its way over the Snowy Range, it showcases some of the most breathtaking and easily accessible peaks in the Rocky Mountains, including famed Medicine Bow Peak at 12,013 feet. Familiarize yourself with some of the "must see" points of interest along Highway 130. A mileage chart below the Snowy Range Recreation Map shows distances between points of interest.
Must See places along snowy range scenic byway
additional points of interest in the snowy range
The Ryan Park Campground was originally a CCC camp during the depression. In 1942, the U.S. Army remodeled it for use as P. O. W. camp for German and Italian soldiers during WWII.
Due to shortage of man-power, prisoners were used to help harvest timber in the South and North Brush Creek drainages. Each prisoner received a small stipend for his daily efforts.
Please notice that the camp lacks machine-gun towers. Security was minimal and escape attempts rare. In fact, at the end of the war when soldiers were shipped back to Europe, many were reluctant to leave this beautiful area.
The entire camp is marked out on the ground and with the aid of the map featured here, it’s possible to revisit the Campground’s history.
In 1867 the Union Pacific Railroad arrived to this area. Over the next 23 years, six million railroad ties were cut from the lodgepole pine in the Medicine Bow National Forest by "tie hacks". The ties were floated along rivers and streams to area forts and used in the construction of the Railroad.
The Snowy Range is dotted with tie hack cabin remnants. One of the best places to view these cabins is north of Turpin Reservoir, along Forest Service Road 100. (FS 100 is accessible from Highway 130 - the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. It leads to the Lincoln Park Campground, the South Brush Campground, Kennaday Peak Fire Lookout Tower and Turpin Reservoir.) See VIPS SOUTHERN WYOMING RECREATION MAP.
The Savage Run Wilderness Area (14,927 acres), the Platte River Wilderness Area (22,749 acres) and the recommended Rock Creek Wilderness Area (17,540 acres) offer great hikes for those seeking relatively undisturbed areas of the Snowy Range.
PLATTE RIVER WILDERNESS
Located in the southwestern portion of the Snowy Range, is accessible from the Pelton Creek Campground (FS 898), Six Mile Campground (FS 492) and Pickaroon Campground (FS 512). Elevation in the Wilderness ranges from 7,420 ft. along the River and Douglas Creek to over 9,000 ft. on Platte Ridge.
Unique to the Platte River Wilderness is the North Gate Canyon--a popular whitewater rafting section of the North Platte River. Each of the trails in this wilderness area provide different adventures. The Devil's Gate Trail features remains of the Thompson Lodge and the the Carbon Timber Company flume (pictured here), which floated logs down Douglas Creek to the North Platte River. The Thompson Lodge was operated by Edith "Bobbie" Thompson, who was known as the "Angel of Keystone" for her service to area tie hacks.
Trail users should be aware that there are no bridges at any of the stream or river crossings. It is not advisable to ford these waterways prior to July 1st due to high water, particularly on Douglas Creek or the North Platte River.
The Medicine Bow Non-Motorized Trail is Wyoming's longest rail-trail stretching close to 25 miles from south of Albany, Wyoming to the Colorado border. Old rail tracks from the Laramie-Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad have been converted into this scenic, hard-packed gravel hiking and biking trail. There are picnic tables and restrooms at the Pelton Creek, Woods Creek and Lake Owen trail heads and a hand pump for water at Lake Owen.
Whether you are looking for a single-day adventure or an extended stay vacation, southern Wyoming is ideal for group/family outings, weddings, reunions and romantic getaways. Click here to download.
VIP's Guide to Southern Wyoming™ is published annually
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