This Wyoming state park sits between Cheyenne and Laramie off Happy Jack Road, easily accessible from I-80. We arrived as the largest fire in Colorado’s history was raging, creating smoke and ash at the park. I would definitely return to this park to enjoy its offerings, though our pictures are tinged with the brown haze of wildfire ash.
The stately entrance to the park provides a welcome site for those driving through this expansive country. A beautifully built visitors center would have been the focal point of the entrance, but was closed due to COVID. The rangers were pleasant at check-in where I could get only a peak of the exhibits on the other side of their makeshift barrier. I checked in and headed to our no hook-up campsite. There are sites that have water and electric, but they are generally close to each other (few have trees or obstructions, so neighbors are visible). Our site, however, was on the second lake further from the entrance and somewhat by itself on the side of the lake. It was a great spot. Driving to it, however, was a little rough. The dirt road had ruts that shook everything violently, even at low speeds. This was particularly bad when we left the campground.
The sites vary and are spread around two lakes. Trees, privacy, and size are also different, but site C-167 was quite nice. It was by itself, but had lower access to the water. We pumped up our kayak and “stored” it in the trees below our site for easy access to the water. There was enough room at the water’s edge to sit in chairs for fishing (we did not try here, but could have) or relaxing.
This park is known for its diverse mountain biking trails. After taking our kayak on the lake, we decided to try some easier mountain bike trials. This park does not provide maps, but instead has these available on their website and they can be accessed on a cell phone. We had already printed the maps before we left home because the cell service here is non-existent except near the visitors center. The bike trail we selected was easy- and made a large loop to the back entrance of the park, over a ridge through sagebrush, some trees, and back to our campsite.
After a quiet night in this park, we took one of the most beautiful, simple hikes I have ever done, the Crow Creek Trail to Hidden Falls. This trail provides views of granite rock formations, distant mountains, pines, and finally follows a meandering creek to the perfect destination; a waterfall. The trail was not busy when we were there on a Saturday. The landscape was similar to Medicine Bow National Forest, which sits near the park. The waterfall is between two giant granite outcroppings and hikers have to wade through ice cold water to view it. On a warmer day, it would have been worth it, but it was overcast, cool, and smoke intensely filled the air. My husband waded to the back, but my son and I did not try it for the cold water.
I would like to spend more time at this park and enjoy more biking and hiking. The smoke was too much and we had to leave, but the next time we are here, I am sure we will enjoy more trails.