Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

subalpine lake.
Rugged peaks and subalpine lakes are among the many attractions along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. Photo by Chris Kyhl, used with permission.

Marsh marigold.
Marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) grows in wet areas, often near melting snow banks. Photo by Andrew Kratz, U.S. Forest Service.

Alpine forget-me-not.
Alpine forget-me-not (Eritrichium nanum) is a tiny wildflower that occurs throughout much of the Rocky Mountain chain. Photo by Andrew Kratz, U.S. Forest Service.

Polemonium viscosum.
This common plant of alpine tundra (Polemonium viscosum) is normally deep purple, but occasional white forms can be found as well. Photo by Andrew Kratz, U.S. Forest Service.

Snowy Range Scenic Byway

Forest: Medicine Bow National Forest

District: Brush Creek-Hayden and Laramie Ranger Districts

Description: One of the first scenic byways designated on National Forests, this 29-mile stretch of paved road crosses through spectacular alpine habitats. It rises from sagebrush and lodgepole pine forests below, and offers views of rugged peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation, crystal clear lakes, and gorgeous displays of native wildflowers in the spruce-fir forests and alpine areas of the high country.

Snow lingers late and returns early at the upper elevations, so the byway is normally open from Memorial Day through October. Numerous hiking trails, picnic sites, and campgrounds offer recreational options to visitors. The Mirror Lake Picnic Ground was recently reconstructed and paved. This site includes single and double sites (plus a group site), a fishing platform, toilet, a path along the lake shore, a path to water and the historic CCC toilet building – all accessible to people with disabilities. The facility has four designated accessible parking spots out of the thirty available parking spots. Facilities accessible to people with disabilities are also available at Barber Lake and Lake Owen.

Viewing Information: Depending on the season, wildflowers that may be encountered include: American bistort (Polygonum bistortoides), blue columbine (Aquilegia caerulea), marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala), moss campion (Silene acaulis), buttercups (Ranunculus species), stonecrop (Rhodiola rhodantha), strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), cinquefoil (Potentilla species), sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum), penstemon (Penstemon species), shootingstar (Dodecatheon species), Jacob’s-ladder (Polemonium species), silky phacelia (Phacelia sericea), gentian (Gentiana species), alpine forget-me-not (Eritrichium nanum), paintbrush (Castilleja species), elephanthead (Pedicularis groenlandica), and harebell (Campanula rotundifolia).

Safety First: See the Medicine Bow - Routt National Forests' Forest Safety web page.

Directions: The Snowy Range Scenic Byway is a stretch of Wyoming State Highway 130 between the cities of Laramie and Saratoga. It can be reached on its western end from Interstate 80 about 20 miles east of Rawlins, or from its eastern end at the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. The byway begins as it enters the Medicine Bow Forest 31 miles west of Laramie and leads westward through the Snowy Range.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Medicine Bow National Forest; Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District (307) 327-5481; Laramie Ranger District (307) 745-2300.

Closest Town: Centennial, Wyoming.

For More Information:

  • The Brush Creek Visitor Information Center, on the western boundary of the Forest, is open May through mid-October and offers maps, books, permits, interpretive program schedules and other information. Call the Brush Creek Ranger District (307-326-5258) for the current schedule of operations at the visitor center.
  • The Centennial Visitor Center is located on the eastern Forest boundary of the Scenic Byway, and is typically open 9-5, Tuesday through Sunday, from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. Opening dates and times can vary, however, depending on staffing availability; current hours of operation may be obtained by calling the Laramie Ranger District office at 307-745-2300. Maps, brochures, passes, permits, books, and schedules for interpretive programs are also available at this visitor center.
  • Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District website
  • Laramie Ranger District website
  • Snowy Range Scenic Byway - Wyoming Tourism website.