The Laramie River flows through the valley between the Snowy Mountains Range and the Laramie Mountain Range, and along its riverbanks in southeastern Wyoming, you’ll find Laramie.
This western town got its start in the mid-1800s as a tent city for railroad workers building the nation’s first transcontinental tracks.
Passengers embarked here the very day the railroad was completed, and by the time the train had a regular schedule, Laramie was a bustling and colorful frontier town.
From these simple beginnings, Laramie has established itself as a vibrant college town and a gateway for year-round outdoor recreational activities. It is driven economically by agriculture, mining, and tourism.
Laramie has a historic downtown district with galleries, museums, shopping, eateries, and the nearby University of Wyoming. UW, centrally located, and Centennial Complex are home to the Art Museum and the American Heritage Center.
Also on campus are other fascinating museums of Anthropology, Geology, and the Rocky Mountain Herbarium, all excellent places to visit.
The Museum of Vertebrates is an unforgettable and educational event featuring “Big Al,” the Allosaurus. The youngsters will love a visit here.
The friendly folks of Laramie welcome you to explore their frontier town and the surrounding wild and undeveloped territory.
Many stellar national parks come to mind when you think of Wyoming—Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Devils Tower, the Bighorns.
But don’t forget about state parks; they are another excellent way to get out in the great outdoors and see the stunning scenery and landscape Wyoming is famous for and are almost always less crowded.
We’d like to introduce you to Wyoming State Parks near Laramie; let’s get started.
Map of State Parks Near Laramie WY
Here is a map of the Wyoming state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Laramie
Here are each of those state parks with distance from Laramie and what is special about each.
Location: 2187 Lake Side Dr, Guernsey, WY 82214
Under two hours north of Laramie, Guernsey State Park is a stunning and scenic park built around Guernsey Reservoir on the North Platte River. The main feature is the towering limestone and sandstone bluffs and cliffs surrounding the eastern section of the reservoir and along the river.
The bluffs result from the Laramide orogeny event millions of years ago. Orogeny is the earth’s geological process of mountain building and occurs when two landmasses meet head-on. Subsequent erosion and weathering helped sculpt the ruggedly beautiful bluffs and landscape of Guernsey State Park.
Guernsey Reservoir offers a wide variety of water activities from boating to fishing, and the state park has hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, and a picnic and playground area. There is also a museum, a castle, and yurts available to rent (year-round).
Interesting fact: The Wyoming State Geological Survey about Guernsey State Park is chock-full of information about the geology, including mining, of the area. There is documentation that Indigenous Americans mined chert and red ochre here. It is noted that mining “dates back to approximately 13,000–11,500 years ago, making this one of the oldest mining sites in North America.”
Location: Seminoe Dam, Rt Unit 30, Sinclair, WY 82334
Seminole State Park was created in 1965, long after the construction of the Seminoe Dam and Reservoir. The lake is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Seminoe Mountain Range. The fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities are superb, and a visit to the area is a unique Wyoming adventure where you can unwind and unplug. The park is two hours northwest of Laramie.
The North Platte River on the north end of the reservoir adjoins the Pathfinder Reservoir, and this section of the river between the two bodies of water is known as “The Miracle Mile” because of the fantastic trout fishing. Not only is the fishing “fly,” but scenic views here along the North Platte are gorgeous.
Other park activities include hiking, boating, swimming, camping, and picnicking. The reservoir shoreline is a mix of sandy beaches, coves, and rocky frontage, and many say the walleye fishing here can’t be beaten. The Morgan Creek Drainage area is an excellent spot to view bighorn sheep and other native wildlife on the north end of the reservoir.
Helpful tip: The Seminole Sand Dunes on nearby Bureau of Land Management property are impressive and an excellent place to ride the massive waves of sand. They are a part of the Killpecker Sand Dunes, “the second-largest active dune in the world.” The Killecker Dunes are 109,000-acres of an ever-changing landscape of sand with 11,000 acres open to the public for hiking, motorsports, sledding, and snowboarding.
Location: 1264 Granite Springs Rd, Cheyenne, WY 82009
Only 30 minutes east of Laramie, the Curt Gowdy State Park, formerly named Granite State Park, rests in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains. Features of the park are three reservoirs, Granite Springs, Crystal and North Crow, hilly and rolling terrain, and magnificent granite rock formations. The elevation here starts at 6450 feet and climbs up over 1000 feet in some places.
Curt Gowdy is a relatively young park, established in 1971 through the combined efforts of the Boy Scouts and the city of Cheyenne. The park was renamed in 1972 after “local outdoorsman and national sportscaster” Curt Gowdy.
2005 saw the park grow with the addition of the Upper North Crow Reservoir; in 2006, biking trails were added. In 2009 under a new development program, the State of Wyoming used the park as a “template” for trail improvement, adding 32 miles that did not change the park’s landscape, a condition of the program.
The granite outcroppings and boulders here are simply breathtaking and inspiring, and the fishing is excellent. The park is home to Wyoming MBT Camps, a mountain bike camp, Hynds Lodge, an Amphitheater, camping, archery, hiking, biking, and picnicking.
Helpful tip: Be sure not to miss a view of the Hidden Falls located at the western end of the Crow Creek Trail. For a detailed look at how to find this somewhat elusive waterfall check out a map of the trail systems in the park; it’s well worth the effort.
Location: 3079 Sinks Canyon Rd, Lander, WY 82520
Sinks Canyon State Park is three and a half hours north of Laramie in the Wind River Mountains. “The Sinks” is a geological feature where the Popo Agie river seemingly disappears only to emerge downstream. The park offers much to see and do, from hiking and biking, mountain climbing, educational activities, scenic drives, and flora and fauna observation.
Sinks Canyon and Wind River Canyon were shaped by “at least three major ice ages over the past million years,” The territory and landscape are simply stunning; people worldwide visit here not only for the beauty but also for the unique geology.
Interesting facts: The canyon has been a “natural pathway” by wildlife and humans for thousands of years. There is “archaeological evidence showing people camped in the canyon 9,000 years ago,” including petroglyphs dating back 5000 years and pictographs that are several hundred years old. Here’s more on the history of the Sinks Canyon.
Location: 220 Park St, Thermopolis, WY 82443
Four hours north of Laramie in the town of Thermopolis is Hot Springs State Park, home of the “World’s Largest Mineral Springs,” with an average temperature of 135ºF. Over 8000 gallons of bubbling, piping hot, mineral-rich water flow every 24 hours at the colorful Rainbow Terraces in the park.
The Hot Springs State Park has a free public bathhouse, indoor/outdoor, maintained at 104ºF and open daily (except winter holidays).
There is hiking, fishing, picnicking, a self-guided interpretive trail, and a Swinging bridge with panoramic vistas of the Bighorn River and mineral terraces.
Interesting fact: Faults resulting from the Laramide orogeny (referenced above in Guernsey State Park) are thought to channel the hot water to the surface in Hot Springs State Park. Read more here about the geology of this unique phenomenon.