Traveler Tales: Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest

Exploring our Nation's National Forests
Dustin and Sarah Bauer's Tiffin Wayfarer Class C Motorhome parked in Medicine Bow Routt National Forest

RVing in Medicine Bow- Routt National Forest

As long time RVers, we are always on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities to share our favorite destinations to explore. So, when we heard about THOR and the National Forest Foundation teaming up to highlight national forests, we knew we had to visit one of our favorites, which is the stunningly beautiful and activity packed Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

Since Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest encompasses over 2.2 million acres in Southern Wyoming and Northern Colorado, we had to scale our focus down a bit on just one of the many breathtaking areas—one of our personal favorites—the Snowy Range area. RVing in the Snowy Range in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is more than just an RV vacation, it's an opportunity to embrace the wild side of adventure and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

Stunning Landscapes and Attractions

One of the biggest draws of RVing in Medicine Bow National Forest is the breathtaking landscapes that surround you at every turn. From towering 12,000 ft mountains with visible glaciers to lush meadows and serene lakes, this forest has something to offer everyone, most of it is visible from the road and highly accessible. Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to not be in awe of the natural beauty that unfolds in front of your eyes as you drive through it.

To not miss out on any of the jaw dropping views mentioned above, we definitely recommend you first take a trip down the Snowy Range Scenic Byway (HWY 130) like we did. Originally built as a high-altitude wagon road in the 1870s and paved in the 1930s, this road is only open a few months of the year. Later established as the second scenic byway, this picturesque drive takes you through some of the most stunning mountain vistas we have ever seen. The vibrant colors of wildflowers dancing in the breeze along soaring exposed mountain peaks and the crystal-clear waters of alpine lakes will surely leave you speechless, like it did us. We made sure to slow down and park our RV at the various lookout points along the way to fully immerse ourselves in the experience, and to enjoy a packed lunch while taking in the beauty of the landscape.

Some Highlights and Can’t Miss Stops:

  1. Mirror Lake: Popular trailhead, fishing and sightseeing spot with 15 picnic table areas with views of the mountain ranges and gorgeous shimmering blue lake. (Vault toilets available)

  2. Lake Marie: Another popular trailhead, fishing and sightseeing walkway overlooking the mountains and beautiful lake. There is a paved, accessible trail that connects to Mirror Lake Picnic areas. Parking can fill up fast at both lakes, so get there early or explore on weekdays if possible. (Funny tidbit: Lake Marie is so stunning that a picture of it has been my lock screen photo for 3 years, and we have been to many, many other amazing places since then.)

  3. Snowy Range Observation Point (Libby Flats): Open 24 hours, this stone overlook provides incredible, expansive views of the four surrounding mountain ranges. (Laramie, Rocky, Snowy and Sierra Madre). We recommend an early sunrise or sunset stop here to maximize the experience!

  4. Sugarloaf Recreational Area: A short dirt road that takes you to Libby and Lewis lakes and trailheads for over 80 additional mountain lakes nearby. It’s a “don’t miss”and the star of the area, in our opinion.

  5. Visitor Centers: Great way to learn about the history of the area and prioritize what stops you want to make. We always recommend a quick stop to grab maps, talk to rangers about their recommendations, and to see if there are any closures you need to be aware of. There are multiple, but we stopped at the head office in Laramie and another in Brush Creek Visitor center.

RV Camping Options in Medicine Bow National Forest

When it comes to RV camping options in Medicine Bow National Forest, there are many options to choose from. Whether you prefer a rustic boondocking camping experience or the comfort of an established RV campground, you will find it here. We opted for Brooklyn Lake Campground, Sugarloaf Campground, Ryan Park Campground, and a boondocking spot which all offered the perfect blend of nature and amenities. Nestled among the tall pine trees, these campgrounds all provided a peaceful and serene setting for our RV adventure.

  1. Brooklyn Lake Recreation Area and Campground: Altitude 10,526 ft. Gorgeous campground tucked into the trees with many spots that overlook the lake and views of the mountain peaks behind it. Many of our favorite trails also start from this campground and extra parking is available. 19 sites (some large) with tables and fire rings. All are available as first come first serve. Trash service and vault toilets available.

  2. Sugarloaf Recreation Area and Campground: Altitude 10,800 ft. The spectacular views and trail accessibility can make reservations for one of the 16 sites difficult to get and the few first come first serve sites are a hot commodity. It is also rustic, has tight roads, RV sites are not very level and small with a max of 22 foot trailer length, but if that is all ok for you, it’s a 10/10 spot and you won’t regret it! All sites have picnic tables, fire rings, and trash service and vault toilets are available. No water on site.

  3. Ryan Park Campground: Altitude 8,009 ft. Beautiful, peaceful and large campground surrounded with aspens and great views. It has 49 sites, 13 of which are large pull throughs. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings with trash and vault toilets available. This location also offers potable water in the summer months, unlike the others (no tank filling though or dump).  Max trailer length 30 ft.

  4. Vedauwoo Recreation Area and Campground: Altitude of 8,200 ft.  This area is filled with beautiful natural rock sculptures perfect for hiking around and rock-climbing on and is known for its rich Native American and outlaw history. Located on I-80 in-between Cheyenne, WY and Laramie, WY. The campground has 28 established campsites with tables, and fire rings. Trash service and vault toilets provided. 

Summer Activities in Medicine Bow National Forest: Rafting, Hiking, and Biking

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, Medicine Bow National Forest is a paradise for adventure in all seasons. Specifically, in the summer months when we visited, you can do anything from relaxing on or near one of the hundreds of lakes while fishing or rafting, to challenging yourself to hike a 12,000 ft. mountain on a hiking trail or one of the exhilarating mountain biking routes, so there is no shortage of activities to get your adrenaline pumping.

As major hiking enthusiasts, we felt spoiled with choice from the numerous trails that wind through the forest. There are leisurely nature walks to challenging summit hikes, so there are options that cater to all types of explorers and energy levels. A couple of our favorite more challenging hikes were the Medicine Bow Peak Trail, which rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from on top of the Namesake Mountain and the Browns Peak Loop trail, which is 13 miles of lake and wildlife viewing paradise (but bring the bug spray). Then, on the more relaxing side of the spectrum, is the equally jaw dropping trails/paths that surround both Lake Marie and Mirror Lake (ADA accessible).

For those who prefer two wheeled adventures, Medicine Bow National Forest also offers thrilling mountain biking trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner looking for a scenic ride or an experienced rider seeking an adrenaline rush, you'll find the perfect trail here. While we mostly focused on hiking and rafting this trip, we did have a blast on North Fork Trail near Brooklyn Lake and Turtle Rock Trail in the Vedauwoo Recreation area.

Sarah Bauer packrafting in Brooklyn Lake in Medicine Bow Routt National Forest


Medicine Bow National Forest is home to a diverse array of wildlife, but one creature that steals the show is the majestic moose. Spotting a moose in its natural habitat is an experience like no other. These giants can often be seen grazing in the meadows or wading through the tranquil lakes and on this trip, we felt like we hit the moose lottery. In one week alone, we spotted 6. Two sets of two in our campground on different days and another set of two on the scenic byway.

During one evening at Brooklyn Lake, we were fortunate enough to encounter two bull moose alone while hiking up from the lake to our RV site after we finished photographing the sunset. It was a surreal moment as we walked out of the trees and they just appeared there, so at the beginning we were just a few feet away from two massive and magnificent creatures. Knowing the sheer power they possess and to respect their space, we backed away to a safe distance immediately, but then took the opportunity to watch them from afar. We watched in awe as they moved through the tall grass towards the water, completely unfazed by our presence. It was a humbling reminder of the beauty and power of the natural world, for sure!

Creating Special Memories at Medicine Bow National Forest

One of the greatest joys of RVing for us is the opportunity to meet new people and forge lasting friendships. Medicine Bow Routt National Forest is a popular destination for RVers from all walks of life, and the sense of community in its campgrounds is always palpable. Whether it's striking up a conversation with the host or fellow campers about the trails nearby, the visiting moose, or the sunset, there always seems to be plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded adventurers, if you are looking to do so.

During our stay in Brooklyn Lake Campground, we got to meet a wonderful RV Family who share our love for the outdoors, hiking, RVing and exploring. We spent hours with them swapping stories of our favorite RV trips across the US, sharing tips on all the best-off grid camping spots we’ve each explored previously, and recommending local trails to each other. Truthfully, we connected so well that we later spent time on Brooklyn Lake rafting together and even chatting about planning future RV trips together. It was a welcomed reminder of the power of travel to bring people together and create lifelong bonds.

Tips For a Successful RVing Trip in Medicine Bow National Forest

  1. Plan ahead: Research RV sites and campgrounds, hiking trails, and activities in advance to make the most of your time in the forest.

  2. Pack appropriately: Be prepared for varying weather conditions and pack essentials such as emergency first aid kit, extra water and snacks, hiking, biking, and rafting gear, sun protection (high elevation) and insect repellent.

  3. Respect nature: Leave no trace and follow the principles of responsible camping to preserve the beauty of the forest for future generations. Also, be prepared for wildlife encounters and stay at a safe distance to respect the animal.

  4. Stay informed: Check weather conditions, trail closures, and any permits or regulations that may apply before heading out on your adventure.

  5. Embrace spontaneity: While planning is important, also leave room for unexpected discoveries and spontaneous adventures.

Embracing the Wild Side of Adventure in Medicine Bow National Forest

RVing in Medicine Bow National Forest is more than just a vacation; it's a chance to reconnect with nature, create lasting memories and friendships, and embrace the wild side of adventure. From the stunning landscapes to the exciting outdoor activities, there is something for everyone in this natural paradise. So, pack up your RV, hit the road, and get ready to unleash the wild side of adventure in Medicine Bow National Forest! Safe travels RV friends!

Ready to embark on your own RVing adventure in Medicine Bow National Forest? Save this article, start planning your trip today and get ready to embrace the wild side of adventure!

Class C Motorhomes

Class C motorhomes offer outdoor experiences for larger families at a lower price point than Class A Motorcoaches. Recognizable by their raised sleeping or storage areas which extend over the cab of the RV, Class C Motorhomes offer more living space than Class B Motorhomes but are smaller in size and can offer better gas mileage than Class A Motorcoaches.

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