We all have our go-to places for outdoor fun. It may be the local mountain outside of town, in that campsite tucked in the lodgepole pines where you feel alone but also know there’s handy access to water and a bathroom. It may be the local lake or reservoir where your kids learned how to swim and you fish for trout or walleye. Or maybe you haven’t quite found your favorite place.
This summer, while we’re all sticking a little closer to home, might be the perfect time to go somewhere new or try something different. We’re not suggesting you transition from casual weekend camper to mountaineer hanging your tent off cliff faces (though if you want to and spend enough time training and preparing, we applaud you). We’re just suggesting maybe breaking out of that rut we all know we’re in.
Think about what would be the perfect outdoor weekend. Do you dream of relaxing on a beach with a book? Do you want to catch something new? Is mountain biking your growing passion?
Whatever it is, chances are reasonably high Wyoming has a state park to match your interests.
The Star-Tribune has outlined five weekend options for you to consider. Just remember to reserve your campsite in advance.
Sit on a beach and read a book
Sure, Boysen Reservoir is known for its walleye, trout and perch fishing. But if you’ve ever been on the water, you’ve also likely noticed that much of the shoreline is beautiful sand and gravel. Boysen State Park has almost a dozen campgrounds scattered on the east and west shores of the reservoir and along the Wind River below Boysen Dam. It rarely sees the crowds of other state parks, and camping on the west side is so remote, in fact, the State Parks office isn’t requiring it be part of the reservation system. So head over some weekend and take along a book you’ve been meaning to read, an umbrella and a chair fit for napping. Take a dip when you’re too hot and admire the surrounding bluffs and islands rimmed in the distance with snow-capped mountains.
Catch something toothy and prehistoric
Keyhole Reservoir, tucked up in the northeast part of the state at the foot of the scenic Black Hills, is a regular destination for any outdoors person living in Gillette, Sundance or Moorcroft. But what much of the state may not realize, is that Keyhole is the only place in Wyoming to catch the toothy, voracious northern pike. Northern pike are a typical Midwestern fish, a prolific hunter capable of growing well over 3 feet long. Wyoming’s state record, pulled from Keyhole in 2004, was 47 inches long and weighed more than 27 pounds. Expect a hard fight, and when you bring one up to the surface, make sure you have a net. The sharp teeth in those wide mouths are serious.
If mountain biking is your thing
What better place to work on your mountain biking skills than on 10,000 acres of public land covered in 45 miles of trails? Wyoming trail officials and groups of dedicated volunteers have been building trails at Glendo State Park for years. The result is a maze of single track perfect for the most cautious beginner and a hard-core expert. Hop on trails at one of many parking areas or pull offs. Plan to camp at one of the 19 campgrounds with hundreds of sites. And as a bonus, if you need to soak your tired legs, Glendo Reservoir offers plenty of places to go for a swim or to just dip your feet.
Get to the mountains
Few places are more aptly named than Sinks Canyon State Park. The middle fork of the Popo Agie River rushes down from its origins in the Wind River Range before, quite literally, sinking into the ground. A quarter mile later, it reappears as a pool full of trophy-sized trout (don’t try fishing, they’re just for viewing). A paved trail offers visitors of all ability levels the chance to experience the park. More difficult trails snake into the mountains. Stay in the park and enjoy the hikes, wildflowers and rock vistas or head deeper into the Wind River Range. Just up the road is the trailhead for the Middle Fork Falls, a 3-mile round-trip hike taking you to a series of stunning waterfalls and cascades. Camp in the state park or in the nearby U.S. Forest Service campground.
In many ways, Curt Gowdy State Park is a one-stop shop for outdoor adventure. It has more than 44 miles of carefully constructed single track trail complete with bridges, technical rocky downhills and smooth, curving lines. The International Mountain Bike Association has labeled the trails as “epic.” Crystal and Granite reservoirs offer boating and fishing (though no swimming, the lakes are managed by Cheyenne’s board of public utilities). There’s also an archery range and a local concessionaire that rents paddleboards and sells food and ice. More than 100 campsites dot both reservoirs. The nearby Medicine Bow National Forest offers even more options for climbing, bouldering, hiking and mountain biking.
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