Alpine Hiking in the Snowy Range

Destination: Snowy Range, Wyoming

| Activities: Backpacking and Hiking

The wild west is full of granite spires, crystalline lakes, and cowboy sunsets. Wyoming is home to one such well kept secret, Medicine Bow National Forest. Here you can walk among fields of brilliant wildflowers and admire wildlife like pikas and big horn sheep. While the daily mileage is low (six miles or less) the terrain and altitude are sure to provide ample challenge to any level of hiker. By day we'll day hike in breathtaking places and at night we'll sleep in comfortable modern lodgings. This adventure is great training for a Level 4 or 5 international trip!Max group size: 12 pax.

Highlights

  • Hiking in a spectacular alpine environment
  • Gaining confidence in your high alpine knowledge and skills
  • Sitting under the stars with new friends
  • Experiencing a night at a world class dude ranch

Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Two nights double occupancy lodging in a hotel in Laramie (or single occupancy if you opt for a single supplement). Three nights in a charming family owned hotel in Centennial, Wyoming. One night at the Vee Bar Ranch, a world famous dude ranch. All rooms at Vee Bar are single occupancy with a shared jack and jill bathroom with another AGC participant.
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on the last day
  • Transportation within Wyoming
  • All related permits and park entry fees
Not included: Airfare to Laramie, Wyoming, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and personal hiking equipment

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is rated a 4 and is appropriate for women in strong hiking condition who want to refine backpacking skills in a spectacular alpine setting. While you will be carrying a 30-pound pack on a trail where there are some sustained ascents and descents, the mileage is quite moderate to allow time to acclimatize to the high elevation and practice skills. Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

This is a hiking trip where you can enjoy far flung remote beauty but only have to carry your daypack. This trip is a perfect opportunity to hone your alpine skills and experience the joys of the Snowy Range in a supportive group environment. We'll practice Leave No Trace principles, how to navigate a talus field, altitude sickness prevention, and much more! Previous hiking experience is required. The mileage will be low, but we will be hiking at high altitude with rocky terrain.

Two nights will be spent at a modern hotel in Laramie, Wyoming that has a convenient airport shuttle. The following three nights will be spent at a family owned and operated historic hotel in the small mountain town of Centennial, gateway to our hiking adventure. Finally our last night will be at the charming western Vee Bar Ranch, a picturesque and relaxing reward, complete with hot tub and a river on property! There are two single supplements available on this trip, otherwise rooms are shared at the first and second location. At Vee Bar Ranch, each participant will have her own room with a shared jack and jill bathroom between another AGC participant's room.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Fly into Laramie, Wyoming by 4PM today. We will be spending the first night at a hotel with an airport shuttle and you can check in by name. Laramie (or “Laradise” as the locals call it) is a charming western college town, full of cowboy relics and outdoor adventure. At 7,200 feet above sea level, you may find the mountainous views breath-taking in a literal way! At 5PM we’ll meet in the hotel lobby for introductions and orientation before hitting the town for our first group dinner together. (D)

Overnight: Hotel in Laramie
DAY 2
This morning we’ll follow the rising sun to the east to a local geological legend. The Native Americans named this area Vedauwoo (pronounced Vee-Duh-Voo), which means "Land of the Earthborn Spirits." You'll see why when you behold tons of rock that seem to balance on inches of space. This spectacular area is full of fascinating boulder formations, dating back 1.43 billion years with behemoth Sherman granite rocks made of pink feldspar, white quartz, black specs of hornblende and other minerals such as mica.

Here we’ll stretch our legs on our first hike, Turtle Rock Loop, and enjoy a picnic lunch. Along the way, we’ll review hiking basics such as Leave No Trace ethics, trekking pole use and more altitude illness prevention. Since altitude affects everyone differently, we are purposefully easing in with a shorter hike. (B, L, D)

Hiking Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain/Loss: 318 feet
Overnight: Hotel in Laramie
DAY 3
After breakfast, we take a beautiful one hour drive west over the Snowy Mountain Scenic Byway. We'll drive through sagebrush prairie at the lower elevations to lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests at higher elevations. The Snowy Range, at 9,000 feet to 12,000 feet above sea level, is aptly named for the heavy annual snowfall and striking white granite peaks. Today’s hike is on Libby Creek Trail and while the overall elevation gain and loss is lower, we’ll be hiking at close to 10,000 feet above sea level! This afternoon we’ll check into our lodging for the next few nights, the charming and historic Mountain View Hotel in Centennial, Wyoming.

Hiking Distance: 4.1 miles Elevation Gain: 669 feet
Overnight: Mountain View Hotel
DAY 4
Now that we’ve had a few days of acclimatization, we’ll hike out and back on the Shelf Lakes Trail. We begin today’s hike at the crystalline waters of Libby Lake (elevation 10,750) and trek northeast, skirting the base of Browns Peak. Glaciers gouged Medicine Bow National Forest thousands of years ago, creating lake after pristine lake. Today many snowfields remain all summer, gripping the mountain slopes and hanging over many of the lakes, white snow contrasting with blue water; we’ll pass both the South and North Gap Lakes. Hiking around South Gap Lake we’ll have our first taste of a talus field of boulders that requires careful footing and sound balance. We’ll use that practice on North Gap Lake where there will also be some boulders to navigate. There will be plenty of time to marvel at trees twisted by the harsh alpine environment, known as "Krummholz" or "bent trees" and a beautiful array of wildflowers - true highlights of the alpine scenery! A variety of birds frequent these meadows, such as the Brown headed Rosy Finch, Clark's Nutcracker, chickadee, and Northern Flicker. We will become familiar as well with the squeaks, whistles and scurrying of the small alpine marmots and pikas. We may see elk, deer, and short-tailed weasels along the trail pine. (B, L, D)

Hiking Distance: approximately 6.1 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 722 feet
Overnight: Mountain View Historic Hotel
DAY 5
After a few days of thoughtful hiking preparation, we are ready to attempt Medicine Bow Peak! Standing at a majestic 12,013 feet, Medicine Bow Peak is the highest point in the range and provides a great landmark during most of our trip. The climb up multiple switchbacks is challenging, but the view is so worth the effort! The top portion of the trail is another talus field, similar to yesterday’s terrain. We will put our trekking poles to good use, navigating from cairn to cairn (rock pile trail marker). From up here we get a bird's eye view of the plentiful lakes that are home to rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout. (B, L, D)

Hiking Distance: 6.2 miles Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,522 feet
Overnight: Mountain View Historic Hotel
DAY 6
On our last hiking day, we’ll start at the same trailhead as Day 4, but head the opposite direction toward Lost Lake and West Glacier Lake. This is an out and back so if you’re feeling sore from yesterday’s climb, you can turn back early. Today’s itinerary day also gives us the opportunity to switch our summit attempt day based on weather forecasts. As a reward for our hiking, we finish our trip at the wonderful Vee Bar Ranch (where AGC’s Living the Cowgirl Life is based!). Here we can soak our sore legs in the hot tub or ice our worn out feet in the Little Laramie River that runs through the ranch. There’s even a ‘saloon’ on the property! Tonight we will toast to our accomplishments during the week over a yummy farewell dinner. (B, L, D)

Hiking Distance: 6.6 miles Elevation/Gain: 814 feet
Overnight: Vee Bar Ranch
DAY 7
Farewell high alpine tundra and magnificent sights! After breakfast at the ranch, we’ll have you back to the Laramie, Wyoming airport in time for flights out after 11AM. (B)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

4.5

(11 reviews)
4.2 Food
4.7 Lodging
4.8 Safety
5
(7)
4
(2)
3
(2)
2
(0)
1
(0)
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Marie R.
1 month ago

It was my first backpacking trip - learned quite a bit about what to do, not to do, what to bring, not to bring. I always am one to carry all weather needs in any pack I am using, this time, I needed even more. In the mountains you need a Plan D.

Eileen G.
1 month ago

Met some wonderful women but most of all, the care given by rhe leaders, especially Karen, who took me under her wing and taught me tons. (I was the only newbie to backpacking on the trip.) Also, Karen and Gina patched me up when I took a header on the trail. In addition, Karen and Brenda took special care of us all on the final, snowy morning on the trail, bringing us hot cocoa and breakfast in our tents and making the wise decision to skip the bouldering planned for that day due to the cold, icy conditions. My only complaints are I felt we stopped to rest too frequently, and the leader should alway position herself in the middle of the pack and wait till everyone catches up before interpreting, so that everyone can hear.

Ursula F.
1 month ago

Comradery among the participants. Lots of laughter and enjoying being outside. Guides were friendly, knowledgeable and capable. Biggest detraction was the guides working out their system of working together, and communicating to the group - something that should of happened before we got there.

Peggy R.
2 months ago

Carol H.
2 months ago

As usual, our guides were amazing. It was very helpful to have Gina along(as a trainee) as her extra set of hands really helped since we had a very diverse set of capabilities in our group. Hiking at altitude in Wyoming was a treat. We saw such beauty and learned a lot about the Wyoming wilderness. Our guides always made sure we were safe and came up with a satisfactory Plan B after we experienced some unexpected wintry weather.

Cynthia R.
2 months ago

I'm rating the trip as excellent because all of the things that were within the control of the leaders were done so well. The trip was special because of the beauty of the terrain, the fact that I had never seen anything like it, and the company of my fellow travellers.

Luann P.
1 year ago

Mary G.
1 year ago

Mary R.
1 year ago

Sure did! The Snowy Mountains are even more beautiful than I anticipated.

Judith L.
1 year ago

See first comments above!

Jane F.
1 year ago

  1. Where do we eat?

    Lunches will be prepared by your AGC guides and eaten picnic style while hiking. Breakfasts and dinners will be eaten at our lodging or from restaurants where you can order off of the menu.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I live near sea level, how can I prepare for the elevations on this trip?
    Altitude affects everybody differently, and can affect the same person differently over time, so there's no real way of knowing ahead of time how the elevations on this trip may affect you.The trip has been designed to help participants acclimate. We ease into hiking with lower mileage and elevation on Day 2 and 3. This will all help you acclimate gradually, with hikes that have more significant elevation gains and losses coming later in the week.
    . Here is a link to a blog post that specifically addresses elevation: http://blog.adventuresingoodcompany.com/blog/high-altitude-hiking-what-you-need-to-know
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