U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Medicine Bow National Forest


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Forest Information

The Medicine Bow National Forest is comprised of 1,093,618 acres. It is located in the southeast quarter or Wyoming. There are thirty-four developed campgrounds of which twenty-five meet our selection criteria.

In the "Journal of Western Travel," John McTurk Gibson wrote: "June 13, 1859 - Sighted Laramie's Peak, covered with snow, contrasting strongly with the suffocating heat we have endured all day."

Like those distance days, the mountain peaks of Medicine Bow National Forest are a welcoming sight. Besides the promise of relief from summer heat, these mountains offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Rock-climbing, rafting, boating, fishing, and trails, available for foot, motorized and stock, are some of the activities enjoyed in the Forest. A number of developed camping locations, located close to recreational activities, offer a convenient place for an overnight stay as well as longer visits.

The area now called Medicine Bow National Forest was a favorite location of the Plains Indians long before the white man appeared. The mountain mahogany found in mountain valleys produced bows of exceptional quality. Various tribes would assemble to collect this wonderful wood and construct bows. At such times, with many people gather, ceremonies were held to make "medicine," cure diseases and call on the "Great Spirit." In other words, the various Plains Indian peoples came together to make medicine while making bows. Thus, the area became known as Medicine Bow.

The Medicine Bow National Forest contains four Wilderness Areas: Savage Run, Platte River, Huston Park, and Encampment River popular for the beauty and outstanding dispersed camping locations. (These locations are undeveloped by the Forest Service and not included in this campground directory.) Several of these Wilderness Area have developed campgrounds close by. Pelton Creek campground, located on the eastern edge of the Platte River Wilderness, is a small but attractive rustic campground with direct access to this Wilderness and popular with car and tent camping enthusiasts. French Creek is the nearest developed campground to Savage Run Wilderness. This pretty little aspen-shaded, rustic campground appears to be undiscovered. Hog Park (formerly Lakeview) campground is located about half-way between Huston Park and Encampment River Wildernesses. Nestled on a lodgepole pine covered hillside next to Hog Park Reservoir, some of Lakeview's sites offer delightful vistas of the reservoir and surrounding mountains and can accommodate good size recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts.

Wyoming State Highway 70, passing through a portion of Medicine Bow National Forest, crossing the Sierra Madre Mountains and connects the towns of Encampment and Baggs. Open only during the summer months, the 28-mile are known as Battle Highway. Interpretive sites along the highway point out interesting features and historic landmarks. One such site proundly identifies the lake where, while fishing with a frayed bamboo pole, Thomas Edison conceived the idea for using filament threads for his incandescent electric lamp. Or so the legend says.

The Snowy Range, in central Medicine Bow National Forest, can be seen from Laramie, Wyoming. The illusion of snow-capped mountains in mid-Summer attracts the attention of all. State Highway 130 climbs, just west of Centennial, winds through a lodgepole forest to an alpine landscape of Englemann and subapline spruce atop the Snowy Range Pass. Along the way, are several campgrounds with campsites featuring spectacular beauty. Some of the campgrounds, such as Bow River, Deep Creek and Brooklyn Lake, are off the beaten path and offer uncrowded quiet seclusion, fishing, and challenging hiking trails. Nearer Route 130, Nash Fork, Sugarloaf, and Silver Lakeare convenient campgrounds for the transient camper and offer delightful scenery for those who stay for more than a night.

For those interested in history, both South Brush Creek and Ryan Park campgrounds are excellent choices. South Brush Creek was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). The stone "outhouses" have been preserved within the campground to remind everyone of the CCC's importance to our national forests. The nearby Ranger Station, which functions today as the District Ranger's residence, and the adjacent Visitor Center give eloquent testimony to the workmanship and skills of those young CCC enrollees. Ryan Park, also constructed by the CCC, was a prisoner of war camp during World War II. Italian and German POWs provided much needed labor to the timber industry during WWII. An interpretive area provides insight for Ryan Park's evolution from a Depression-era facility to POW camp to the developed campground of today.

Between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming off Interstate 80, is a very interesting rock formation called Vedauwoo. The origin of the name is either Arapaho or Cheyenne meaning "earth born." Thought to have been created by playful spirits, the jumble of rocks is a rock climbing mecca. Tucked in among the fancifully eroded topography is the Vedauwoo campground. Recently renovated and expanded, Vedauwoo offers nicely configured and growing in popularity for RV and motorhome camping. The walk-in tent sites are so secluded campers might expect a visit from the bygone outlaws who used the Vedauwoo as a hideout. Several trail heads at the campground provide interesting and challenging adventures for both hikers and mountain-bikers.

To the north, Laramie Peak stands as a sentinel guarding the vast and rich prairie. Visible for more than 100 miles, Laramie Peak's granite crown is also a favorite for rock-climbers. Friend Park camping location is nestled near the base of the peak among pine and firs. The topography of the area makes Friend Park an excellent tent campground, although small RVs can be accommodated. Several trails are available from the campground and feature wonderful vistas and a waterfall.

With its varying topography ranging from towering mountains, spacious alpine meadows and vast prairies, Medicine Bow National Forest offers a wide diversity of recreational activities and developed campgrounds. Whether hiking along a ridge once used by Cheyenne warriors, fishing in a stream used by Kit Carson, enjoying a campfire in a nook once used by some desperado, or biking along a roadway built by World War II prisoners of war, Medicine Bow National Forest conveys a sense of history and awesome beauty. The same sense of wonder, pleasure and relief expressed by Mr. Gibson some 140 years ago can be found in the Medicine Bow National Forest by the visitors of today.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 2468 Jackson St. Laramie, Wyoming 82070-6535 307-745-2300 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Brush Creek-Hayden South Hwy. 130 P.O.B. 249 Saratoga, Wyoming 82331 307-326-5258 Douglas 2250 E. Richards St. Douglas, Wyoming 82633 307-358-4690 Laramie 2468 Jackson St. Laramie, Wyoming 82070-6535 307-745-2300

Fred and Suzi Dow