Stop in Laramie, Wyo., in between Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone for these uncrowded outdoor and cultural experiences, including a stunning scenic drive with gorgeous alpine peaks.
Laramie Plains Museum at the Historic Ivinson Mansion
Why go: See how the 1 percent lived in Laramie in the 1890s at this mansion that had running water, central heating and electric lights long before most in the area.
Little-known fact: Edward Ivinson was born in St. Croix before eventually making his way with his wife and daughter to Laramie, Wyo., where he worked as a banker.
Wyoming Territorial Prison Historic Site
Why go: Put yourself behind bars at this historic prison site built in 1872.
Little-known fact: It’s the only prison in the world to have housed the notorious Butch Cassidy.
American Heritage Center
Why go: Inside this University of Wyoming building intended to embody the “sense of a landscape in formation,” according to its architect Antoine Predock, you’ll find remarkable archives from the papers of Stan Lee, creator of comic-book heroes Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk to the papers of vaudeville, radio and TV actor Jack Benny.
Tip: Check the Reading Room hours in advance at uwyo.edu/ahc/research/visit.html.
Wyoming House for Historic Women
Why go: This museum honors Louisa Swain and 12 other Wyoming women who had far-reaching impacts on society.
Little-known fact: Swain became the first woman to cast a vote in the country in 1870 after Wyoming passed laws giving women equal rights as men.
University of Wyoming Geological Museum
Why go: See a 75-foot Apatosaurus skeleton, along with other dinosaurs in this museum. While alive, an Apatosaurus ate 1 ton of vegetation daily and weighed 25 tons. The museum’s hours of operation are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; closed Sundays. Admission to the museum is free.
Little-know fact: Disney-Pixar’s 2015 The Good Dinosaur featured a Wyoming Apatosaurus named Arlo.
UW Anthropology Museum
Why go: Trace the evolution of humans from their beginnings in Africa to the New World in exhibits on three floors.
Tip: Summer hours are 7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Check the website to verify at uwyo.edu/anthropology/museum.html.
Summit Rest Area and Visitor Center
Why go: The highest point on the old Lincoln Highway, which was the country’s first coast-to-coast highway, was marked by this monument of President Lincoln’s face. See it on I-80 between Cheyenne and Laramie.
Little-known fact: It took Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower 62 days to travel the entire 3,250-mile highway in 1919, which included layovers to rebuild bridges. At the time, volunteers in each county along the route were in charge of road maintenance.
Coal Creek Tap
Why go: Get a taste of Laramie’s former Wild West days when you sip the award-winning Bucket of Blood double red IPA. For a lighter drink, try Laradise, an extra pale ale celebrating Laramie in the summer.
Little-known fact: The red IPA is named after Laramie’s first bar, Bucket of Blood, run by three thieves who were half brothers.
Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary
Why go: See the home to 300 wild Wyoming mustangs roaming on 4,700 acres just 35 miles west of Laramie.
Tip: Visits by appointment only at 307-399-9956.
2. Happy Jack
Why go: Home to three campgrounds, there are short trails to explore by foot, bike or cross-country skis.
Little-known fact: The area was named for “Happy Jack” Hollingsworth, a Laramie rancher in the 1880s who sang while he worked.
1. Vedauvoo Recreation Area
Why go: Camp, bike, hike and climb on the spectacular granite rock formations here. Head 19 miles east of Laramie on I-80.
Little-known fact: Pronounced “veee-da-voo,” this area is referred to by the Arapaho Indians as “Land of the Earthborn Spirit.”
3. Snowy Range Scenic Byway
Why go: This stunning road through the Medicine Bow National Forest takes you past glacial lakes, granite peaks, gorgeous meadows and over the second-highest mountain pass in Wyoming. The highway is closed mid-November to Memorial Day weekend. The scenic drive starts west of Laramie at the village of Centennial. Download the guide to 14 stops at visitlaramie.org/brochure-snowy-range-scenic-byway.
Little-know fact: It was constructed as a wagon road in the 1870s.
For more information:
800 S 3rd St., Laramie, WY 82070