South East Corner of Wyoming
We love this beautiful park with the unique, looming rock formations, reservoirs, trails, wildlife, birds, wild flowers and western landscapes situated in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains.
Location – Curt Gowdy State Park is located on highway 210, about halfway between the historic city of Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming which is just 24 miles west of the park and Laramie which is home to the University of Wyoming and is just 24 miles east, providing lots of cool, “western” things to do including ample dispersed camping close by.
1264 Granite Springs Road, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009
Topography – the park covers 3,552 acres and is known for its trail system offering a skill level for everyone. The park is made up of fishing reservoirs, low-lying meadows, gently rolling hills with a scattering of trees and massive steep granite formations.
Trails – Curt Gowdy State Park has over 35 miles of trails for any skill level. The best views are provided at El Alto and Slabz! Kate’s Trail is a 1-mile concrete trail loop at the Visitor’s Center, offering an almost certain view of the mule deer herd. I love to find all of the flowers and plants that grow in the different seasons. During certain times of the year, local organizations hold nature walks for viewing birds and wildflowers.
Reservoirs – Curt Gowdy State Park has three reservoirs and several areas of varied landscapes. Granite Springs is the largest reservoir which offers rainbow trout and Kokanee salmon fishing and allows for water sports. We love to kayak in this reservoir and it is the closest to the campsites with the best views including many electric sites, but because the elevation is higher giving the best scene of the water and red rocks, there is a steep hill to walk your kayaks down unless you want to unload them at the boat launch. Crystal reservoir has a horsepower limit of 15, and it is the smallest of the reservoirs, has shoreline fishing for brown trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon also. North Crow Reservoir is located 5 miles west of the Headquarters Building which is an unimproved fishing area. Aspen Grove campground is next to the free public horse corral for those who would like to camp with horses.
Quick Kayak Review
I did a lot of research on kayaks when I bought these two and focused on what to look for in the best options and which will give the longest enjoyment. The above link for the tandem Perception for two is a great place to start your search if you are looking for a kayak or two. I have a single person, 10′ Perception Prodigy the sunset color kayak in the pictures (my absolute favorite; it’s mine) and the 9.5′ Perception Sound which is the blue one. My top choices in purchasing was considering these options; to be lightweight but sturdy which means not flimsy but also one piece for longevity, to have a keel (pointy bottom) for ease of steering and not being pushed sideways by wind or waves, to have a comfortable, adjustable seat, and a water tight storage compartment. I was also looking in a reasonable price range. This 10′ Perception Prodigy is my top pick over and over again! It is very stable, I can limit how much I get water on me on colder days. I love the handles for carrying and the elastic bungee cord for shoes or jackets. I can store the lifejacket and paddles inside when not in use, and yes, the storage compartment stays dry. To top it off, I love the sunset color as I call it, which reminds me of all of the sunrises and sunsets I have witnessed.
Camping – We have camped a few times at this state park. It is not very crowded typically, but often there are times when it gets busier when locals love to go ice fishing or it’s a holiday or during summer peak seasons. I love the short, connecting trails close to the campsites on the north side, allowing me to jog or walk the single-track, dirt trails at a moment’s notice to view the bluebirds, unique ducks and sunrise and sunsets. There are a generous number of electric sites scattered with decent pit toilets and water nearby. Most sites are pretty level, but the ones closest to shore, not so much, like the one shown in the picture below.
Historic Site – Within the park is Hynds Lodge, which is listed on the National Register, and an amphitheater available for concerts, theater productions, and many other cultural activities.
Things To Do Nearby – Cheyenne is home to western history, cowboys and cowgirls, rodeos, ranches, gunslingers, historic hotels, cuisine, western entertainment, trolley cars, eight feet tall cowboy boots, the “Big Boy”, the world’s largest steam engine, the Wyoming State Capitol, Wyoming State Museum, Western art, big sky views and lots more! My favorite is Cheyenne Frontier Days held the last week of July each year. Cheyenne Frontier Days includes PRCA rodeo & slack events, concerts, professional bull riders, USAF Thunderbirds, multiple parades, western art show, pancake breakfasts, carnival, Old West Museum, and an Indian Village with more art and shows. Book your campsite or hotel far in advance. This event draws gunslingers and lots of visitors!
Curt Gowdy State Park Pros –
It is not as busy as most state parks. It is a great stay over on your way to other beautiful travels to such places as Grand Teton National Park (375 miles or about a 6 1/2-hour drive), Jackson (408 miles or about a 7 hour drive, and Yellowstone National Park (402 miles or a 7-hour drive). It is a beautiful setting with a variety of things to do on the water and interesting trails with gorgeous views, a waterfall to hike to, a variety of birds to see and mule deer.
Curt Gowdy State Park Cons –
Elevation – If you are a regular sea-level dweller, the range of elevation here is between 6800 and 7600 and will be an additional adjustment to make in deciding the level of recreation you want to jump into. Drink more water than usual for elevation as well as for the typical, dry air which whisks away your body moisture faster and without you even being aware of it. Limit caffeine intake for the same reasons. If you have been around the area for a couple of weeks, your body will have already started to adjust. Dizziness, headache and nausea are some signs of high-altitude sickness especially when exerting yourself.
Wind – Windy seasons are usually winter and spring. Laramie County often has windy days with 20 mph winds and gusts up to 50 and even 60 mph. Watch the weather forecast regularly during the day, which can change hourly. I-80 and I-25 are often closed to light, high profile vehicles especially during these windy seasons, so if you are a van or RV or camper trailer, be aware. Wind also affects whether you might want to spend time on the water. The reservoirs are not too large so you will typically have enough time to get off of the water due to a storm, but keep your eyes on the horizon.