Health and wellness have always been an important part of my life. My parents made sure my brother and I spent plenty of time outdoors, running and playing, learning different sports and skills. Living in Cheyenne, Wyoming made all of those outdoor adventures exciting, but my favorite memories are the days we spent exploring Vedauwoo.
Vedauwoo (pronounced VEE-DUH-VOO) is otherworldly in appearance. The rock formations—1.4-billion-year-old Sherman granite—were carved by ice, wind and water. They crop up from the ground like massive sculptures, some rising up to 500 feet into the air, their distinctive pinkish hue unmistakable. These geologic marvels reside 27 miles west of Cheyenne in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. They share the area with an abundance of aspen and ponderosa pines. Moose, elk, deer and mountain lions also call this place home; reminding visitors they are truly in the Great Outdoors. For children and adults alike, it is a wonderland of outdoor experiences.
Rock climbers from all over the world come to Vedauwoo for its incredible climbing opportunities. There are more than 900 different climbs, for novice to experienced climbers, meaning the options never really run out. Wide crack (or “offwidths”) climbing is incredibly popular here; Vedauwoo is known as one of the best spots in the world to experience it.
Vedauwoo is where my brother and I were first introduced to rock climbing, and we have continued to enjoy what this park so generously offers to climbers: gorgeous views, challenging climbs and the feeling like you can conquer the world at the end of a successful ascent. Adventure-seekers are presented with a variety of ways to play on the rocks. Belaying, bouldering, scrambling and rappelling keep your adrenaline pumping while you explore this ancient rocky landscape.
More than 20 miles of trails snake through Vedauwoo, giving active children, nature-lovers and fitness enthusiasts alike yet another way to stretch their legs and get their blood pumping. There are trails for every skill level, so there’s no need to be intimidated. Turtle Rock Loop Trail is one of the more popular trails, and is one we frequented as children. We brought our leashed Australian Shepherd with us (dogs on leashes are permitted on this trail), and leisurely explored this three-mile trail that includes a river, wildflowers and views of climbers scaling the rock formations. Keep your eyes out for beavers, antelope and other wildlife along the trail—you never know what surprises might be in store.
If cycling is more your style, you’ll be happy to know that mountain bike trails are also spread across the park. Stunning views of the Medicine Bow Mountains and the tall pines and aspens flanking the trails enhance the riding experience. Horses are also welcome in the park. Many of the hiking trails are open to horses, and dude ranches in the area also offer trail rides if you don’t have a steed of your own.
Vedauwoo is such an incredible locale that one afternoon never feels like enough. As the sun sets over the behemoth granite rocks, you don’t have to head home. There are close to 30 campsites to choose from, and there’s no better way to commune with nature than spending an evening under the stars. My favorite memory of camping at Vedauwoo was watching meteors fly across the expansive night sky, my own personal galactic entertainment. With nothing but nature as my companion, and the sounds of crickets serenading me, I found a sense of peace that I have never felt anywhere else. Of course, if you prefer sleeping with a roof over your head, then Cheyenne has plenty of great options for comfortable accommodations.
Cheyenne is just a short drive from Vedauwoo, and is a destination that screams “Wild West.” In Downtown Cheyenne, you can get everything you need to feel like an authentic cowboy or cowgirl, from boots and hats to home furnishings. The downtown area is also home to some wonderful breweries, where you can sip on a well-deserved reward after a day of rigorous rock-climbing. With other amusing Western themes—like the 22 enormous painted cowboy boots dotted throughout town, or the Nelson Museum of the West which houses clothing worn by Roy Rogers—there is no shortage of entertainment and intrigue. It’s a place I loved growing up, and now my own family loves it, too.
Explore more outdoor activities around Cheyenne and plan your next getaway.