Colorado is an incredible state. It has it all — tall peaks, stunning cliffs, beautiful meadows and, of course, people, lots and lots of people. Colorado has so many people, it is often impossible to find solace in the outdoors.
Thankfully, Northern Colorado has just the fix. Wyoming… the land of wind, snow and cows, right? Well, yes, all of that is true, but Wyoming has much more to offer. As I always say, Wyoming is Colorado’s best kept secret.
Wyoming is a large state, so knowing where to start exploring can be difficult. Personally, I would recommend Vedauwoo. Not “Ved-au-woo”, “Veda-voo”. The name is not the selling point. What does define Vedauwoo is its rugged rock formations, cold mountain streams and expansive meadows. Bottom line, the place is beautiful and inspiring.
Enjoying Vedauwoo is free of charge since it is National Forest Service land. However, the primary entrance, which provides access to the camping and day use area, is a fee area. The entrance fee is $5, but remember to bring cash or a check to pay the fee, as it is a self-help station.
Vedauwoo and the surrounding area still exude a western spirit, which is no surprise considering the history. The area was home to Native American tribes for centuries before European settlers began to explore the West. Some evidence exists that Spanish trappers perused the area during the mid 1700’s. The first notable American presence was less than 200 years ago. In 1843, when the overland trail was forged as a route across the Rocky Mountains, it came within a few miles of Vedauwoo.
Notably, Vedauwoo is located near both the first transcontinental highway and railroad. Ames Monument, a pyramid near the entrance of Vedauwoo, now marks the highest point along these routes.
For more information on the history of the area, visit their website at Vedauwoo.org.
There are two possible routes that access Vedauwoo from Fort Collins—both drives take about an hour.
The 287 route follows the old Overland Trail to Laramie, Wyoming. This drive is scenic. As it winds through the lower Rocky Mountains, it provides motorists with sweeping views of Rocky Mountain National Park.
From Laramie, take I-80 East for approximately 15 miles or 24 minutes. Vedauwoo will become visible to the north, signaling your arrival. Take exit 329 onto Vedauwoo road, turn left and follow the road into the park.
The I-25 route is an easy, straightforward drive through Cheyenne. To take this route, head north on I-25 from Fort Collins to Wyoming. In Cheyenne, exit onto I-80 West. Stay on I-80 West for approximately 36 minutes until exit 329. At the bottom of the 329 exit ramp, turn right onto Vedauwoo road and continue into the park.
Vedauwoo is a gorgeous area that requires very little exertion to enjoy it. If you’re looking for a rush, though, there are plenty of ways to get your heart rate up. The activities listed below are my favorite ways to experience Vedauwoo.
The area is a climber’s playground. Unique rock formations carve up the landscape, allowing climbers of all levels and disciplines to enjoy climbing. There are numerous low rock features that provide endless bouldering problems. That being said, Vedauwoo is best known for off-width or large cracks and it, in fact, offers some of the best off-width climbing in the country. Grab a friend, some thick clothing and your largest cams — these cracks are not friendly.
Keep in mind, Vedauwoo is very traditional, which means the climbs are very hard in comparison to newer climbing areas.
“The Voo: Rock Climbing in Vedauwoo” By: Zach Orenczak and Rachel Lynn
“Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo, Wyoming” By: Robert B. Kelman
Vedauwoo boasts a charming, well-designed campground near the main entrance. With a cost of $10, the amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, and toilets. The area also has the infrastructure for drinking water, though the water is currently turned off due to safety concerns.
Dispersed Camping is allowed anywhere on National Forest Land, as long as it is outside the fee area. Dispersed campers must stay within 150ft of the road and 100ft away from any streams or lakes.
Note: Be sure to check the Medicine Bow National Forest for any fire bans.
Numerous paths connecting the area perfectly display Vedauwoo’s grandeur. Trails often follow small valleys that connect the rock formations. Turtle Rock Trail is a perfect hike to experience the area.
Vedauwoo is a well kept secret just a little ways away, so go and explore it before the secret is out.
Collegian Blogger Nevin Fowler can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @nevintfowler or on Instagram @nevintfowler. Leave a comment!