I love a college town, more specifically a small college city. Laramie, Wyoming is one of those. It’s small enough to feel like you’re part of the home team during basketball season, but big enough to maintain a strong identity outside the school year. In the winter, Laramie is a great place to experience the college vibe, complete with building-size murals, hoppy microbrews, and piles of beloved snowy outdoor recreation ideal for avoiding responsibilities and deadlines. Laramie in the summer, on the other hand, gives you a chance to soak up those vibes while savoring pockets of peace and quiet with the locals.
This story was created in partnership with Visit Laramie.
Photo: Emily Taylor
It’s tough to beat Laramie in the winter. A friendly ski hill with a locals vibe sits just outside of town. Numerous Nordic trails are ready for those who prefer to ski “uphill” rather than downhill, and the rugged can head into the backcountry on either alpine skis or skis attached to a snowmobile motor. Laramie is high on “we’re coming back next winter” lists all over the country, but we think it belongs on “we’re coming back this summer” lists.
For the Downhill Crowd
Cliff hucking isn’t exactly feasible when you don’t have lots of deep powder to land in, so summer seems like a good time to flip your perspective: give rock climbing a shot, and see what you think of finding your way UP a cliff. About the same distance from town as the ski hill, Vedauwoo Recreation Area is a great place to learn how to climb or to hone your skills. If you know your stuff, you’ll find all kinds of trad climbing, new bolted sport-climbing routes, and boulder problems to tackle. The combination of over 900 established routes, climbers from around the world, and views that will stop you in your cliff-side tracks, you’ll get plenty of thrill and gravity-related fun at Vedauwoo (pronounced VE-da-voo).
For the ‘Nordic’ Types
You want to cover as much ground as possible, and you don’t mind doing so at tempo pace. You’re ready to hit the trails with a little sunshine on your skin, just remember you’re moving at elevation so you’ll need sunscreen and extra food and calories! Hikers and trail runners alike can throw a dart at the map and start moving, because Laramie in the summer is a mecca for breathtaking hiking destinations. Vedauwoo, the Snowy Mountains, Happy Jack Recreation Area, and the Medicine Bow National Forest welcome your ambition.
Even better? Alpine lakes await—cool off by jumping in … or maybe just by dunking your dusty feet in before heading back to town or setting up camp. If you’re going to stick around in the mountains overnight, know that it cools off quickly, that you need to be bear aware, and you need to know how to navigate your way back to your car. Dust up on your Leave No Trace skills so your campsite is just as pristine when you return next summer. Settle in, catch a fish for dinner, and watch the best night skies you’ve seen in your life roll in.
For the Earn-Your-Turn-ers
Climb up, zip down, and repeat, because Laramie has mountain biking galore to match your backcountry ski style. Laramie is also home to hundreds of mountain bike trails, “from easy to extreme”, two bike shops, two outdoor shops, bike races, tours, and a state park known for being ideal for mountain bikers. We recommend starting with Curt Gowdy State Park, simply because there is a single track trail system that was designed and built just for you—no matter your skill level!
Photo: Emily Taylor
For the Ice-Fishing Devotees
Swap your auger for a dry fly. Don’t bother with the canucks or the hand warmers—it will just be you, the water, and the trout. You can hit the lakes, and you can also branch out to fishing on moving water, like the Big Laramie River or alpine brooks and streams. There’s plenty of public access, but we think heading out with a guide is a great way to get to know the local waters and seasonal hatches. They also tend to know the best local watering holes to quench your thirst after a big day of reeling in monsters.
For the Sled Heads
ATV and ORV plans translate pretty well for snowmobilers, though we recommend you stick to designated trails. Get a thrill and some wind in your face on the way to epic vistas or to your campsite. You don’t even have to bring your trailer for summer throttle fun—just rent one in town or from your lodge!
For the ‘I’ll wait in the lodge’ Crew
Step into history, whether it’s to learn about the women’s vote in the Equality State, to get some unique selfies in the Wyoming Territorial Museum, or to visit a 13-foot Abraham Lincoln. Or stay indoors and stroll through Laramie’s several notable museums. A walk through downtown will give you the chance to appreciate local art of all sizes, go shopping, and sample a variety of fun restaurants.
Photos on left: Emily Taylor
Laramie in the Summer—for everyone
Sitting down after a day of sunshine and sweaty smiles pairs with cold, local beer as well as … well, about as well as a cold, local beer pairs with kicking off snowy boots and sitting down in front of a fire. Find the post- or pre-adventure fuel of your liking thanks to the “eclectic college town tastes with western Wyoming fare” and make plans for a return … this winter or next summer, or both.