Winter is coming, but that won’t slow restless Coloradans down. As fall leaves give way to snowflakes, a naturally socially distant vacation awaits across the border in Laramie, Wyoming. There’s plenty of space to explore in this quintessential Western town just two hours northwest of Denver. From downtown Laramie to neighboring Albany, Centennial, Rock River, and Woods Landing, adventure, history, and delicious grub await. Here’s how to fill your days during a fun-filled, pandemic–safe vacation.
The biggest perk of the Snowy Range Mountains: You get to play in the snow without the headache of I-70 traffic. More than 300 inches of the fluffy stuff falls annually on the Laramie area’s more than 200 miles of groomed trails, plus an additional 120 ungroomed miles, which can be explored on snowmobiles, fat bikes, cross-country skis, or snowshoes. Snowmobilers (who are required to have a $35 permit) will want to depart from either Albany Lodge—where they’ll find a restaurant, rentals, and more—or the Green Rock Trailhead for a genuine backcountry experience. For quieter cross-country and snowshoe trails, check out the Chimney Park Trail System. Couple your outing with jaw-dropping photo-ops at Vedauwoo where rocks tower in precarious positions; before heading home, peek at the pyramid-shaped Ames Monument.
Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area’s 250 acres may be diminutive compared to the behemoth Vail Ski Resort (5,317 skiable acres), but you won’t have to battle long lift lines at this still undiscovered gem—or drop a whole paycheck. Single-day lift tickets max out at $54, and when the mountain opens for the season on December 4, you’ll have access to more than two dozen trails suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities.
For Foodies (and Beer-ies)
Activity-filled days require a lot of fuel to keep energy levels high. Laramie may be a college town (Go Cowboys!), but that doesn’t mean it’s all fast food and late-night eats here. Find fantastic pies made with fresh-milled grains at Alibi Wood Fire Pizzaria & Bakery, thoughtful vegetarian eats at Sweet Melissa Cafe and Front Street Tavern, and butcher-ground burgers at the Crowbar & Grill. Or, shop for your own locally grown provisions at Big Hollow Food Co-Op. For a taste of classic Wyoming steak, nab a seat at Altitude Chophouse & Brewery or Cavalryman Steakhouse, a 1925 building situated on the grounds of 1800s-era Fort Sanders.
Like any good Rocky Mountain town, Laramie is a bit hops–obsessed. Take a self-guided tour of the area’s beer offerings with stops at Accomplice Beer Company’s “mycro-pub,” ale-focused Bond’s Brewing Company, Coal Creek Tap (the Coal Train Belgian Coffee Stout is a must-try), and the Library Sports Grille & Brewery for unfiltered brews.
For When It’s Too Cold
We all need a break from the fall chill. When you need to warm up, head inside (face coverings recommended) to learn about the region’s history or get an early start on your holiday shopping. Museum fans will find a diverse array of venues to keep them occupied, from the Wyoming Territorial Prison Historic Site—where Butch Cassidy was once held—to the dramatic-looking University of Wyoming Art Museum to the historic Laramie Railroad Depot & Museum.
OK, so it’s not indoors, but you only need to zip on your coat for a few minutes to take in the 13-foot-tall Abraham Lincoln Memorial Monument at Summit Information Center. University of Wyoming art professor Robert Russin sculpted the bust in 1959 to mark the highest point on the historic Lincoln Highway (it now stands at the topmost point on I-80).
Retail therapy on your mind? Laramie has you covered. Atmosphere Mountainworks sells funky, hand-designed outdoor bags and apparel. Adorable gifts and home decor items line the shelves at the Curiosity Shoppe and craftsman’s co-op the Bent and Rusty, while Martindale’s is the destination for Western wear.
Where To Stay
After all that out-and-about time, you’ll need a relaxing place to rest your head. Find that comfort, and privacy for your family, by booking a stay in one of the area’s rustic-luxe cabins. The three custom-built accommodations at Aspen Creek Cabin—the Moose Lodge, Bears Den, and Eagles Nest—sleep between four and eight people and include their own kitchens. The Snowy Range Mountains serve as the backdrop for Mountain Meadow Cabins in nearby Centennial. Built for adventure travelers, the modest venues accommodate between two and five people in the winter and can only be reached via a one-mile snowmobile ride; the surrounding lakes are popular ice fishing spots. Albany Lodge in the Medicine Bow Mountains doubles as a guide service, with snowmobile trails on the property; choose between hotel rooms, suites, cabins, and houses roomy enough for the extended family.
Find more ideas and plan your trip at visitlaramie.org.