Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Spectacular rock formations and diverse recreation opportunities draw many visitors to the Vedauwoo Recreation Area. Photo by S. Clark, used with permission.
Purple pincushion cactus (Coryphantha vivipara) is tiny and often goes unnoticed when not in bloom. Photo by K. Driver, U.S. Forest Service.
Native insects, including this checkerspot butterfly (Occidryas sp.) play an important role in pollination. Photo by A. Latchininsky, used with permission.
Nineleaf biscuitroot (Lomatium triternatum var. platycarpum) is a deep rooted perennial, acclimated to grow on exposed hillsides. Photo by K. Driver, U.S. Forest service.
Vedauwoo Recreation Area on Pole Mountain
Forest: Medicine Bow National Forest
District: Laramie Ranger District
Description: Vedauwoo is a group of spectacular granite rock formations rising out of the thin soils on Pole Mountain. Prominent in local legend, stories say the rocks were piled up by playful spirits and later the many nooks and crannies served as hideouts for western outlaws evading capture. These same rocks now offer sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts. The Vedauwoo campground nestled beneath the stone outcrops is a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers, mountain bikers and others who enjoy numerous opportunities to follow their own spirit of play in this gorgeous natural landscape. The rocky soils and low levels of precipitation support hardy flora well-adapted to the harsh conditions. Many plants appear undersized or dwarfed, but upon close inspection, the arid landscape reveals a riotously colorful carpet of native flowers, busy with the commotion of pollinating bees and butterflies.
The exposed slopes of Pole Mountain and southeast facing portions of the Vedauwoo Recreation Area are often some of the first mountainous areas in southeast Wyoming to complete spring snow melt. Vedauwoo road may be clear of snow as early as April and the Vedauwoo campground is typically open with full services by the beginning of June. The campground offers 28 developed campsites with potable water, trash pick-up and vault toilets including several fully accessible campsites, viewing areas, parking spaces and facilities. There is also a developed picnic area for day use. Sightseeing and wildflower viewing begin within a short walk or drive from any campsite. Turtle Rock trail leaves from the campground and winds its way between multiple rock formations while passing meadows, streams, beaver ponds and forested areas. Box Canyon trail leaves from the picnic area, contains great views along a short distance and is fully accessible to people with disabilities.
Viewing Information: Vedauwoo is a great place to view early season wildflowers, some can be seen as early as April or May, but flowering typically reaches its peak in June and early July. Depending on the season, wildflowers that may be encountered include: Pasque flower (Pulsatilla patens), Wyoming Townsend daisy (Townsendia alpigena), northern Idaho biscuitroot (Lomatium orientale), nineleaf biscuitroot (Lomatium triternatum var. platycarpum), prairie bluebells (Mertensia lanceolata), tufted milkvetch (Astragalus spatulanthus), showy locoweed (Oxytropis splendens), Wyoming locoweed (Oxytropis nana), sand lily (Leucocrinum montanum), purple pincushion (Coryphantha vivipara), flowery phlox (Phlox multiflora), Hood’s phlox (Phlox hoodii), Blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata), daisy fleabane (Erigeron species), lupine (Lupinus species), groundsel (Senecio species), goldenrod (Solidago species), and Wyoming kittentail (Besseya wyomingensis).
Safety First: See the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests' Outdoor Safety & Ethics web page.
Directions: From Laramie, take Interstate 80 east 15.8 miles to Vedauwoo Road/ exit 329. Exit and at stop sign turn left onto Vedauwoo Road. To reach the Vedauwoo campground and Turtle Rock trail go 1.2 miles and turn left at sign into campground, drive .25 miles and turn right into the campground loop, trail leaves from the campground. To reach the picnic area and Box Canyon trail turn left onto the campground road but avoid the campground loop and continue straight until the road dead-ends at the picnic area, trail leaves from the picnic area.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Medicine Bow National Forest, Laramie Ranger District, (307) 745-2300.
Closest Town: Laramie, Wyoming.
For More Information:
- The Laramie Visitor Center is located at 2468 Jackson Street in Laramie, Wyoming, and is open during business hours, Mondy-Friday, 8:00-4:30. Campground and road opening dates can vary depending on seasonal variability, current status of Vedauwoo Recreation Area 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.
- Laramie Ranger District