Cure For Cabin Fever
As I sit here at the end of a week that started off with a literal blizzard and nurse a new knee, the cabin fever is strong! The good news is that spring really is coming and with all of the snow we have gotten, I am hopeful for some gorgeous fields of wild iris and amazing waves of spring flowers once I am able to get out and about.
Wyoming is full of beautiful places to get out and get fresh air and many of them allow dogs and horses. Let me share with you some of my most favorite local escapes...
Esterbrook-This tiny little community boasts a gorgeous little church with a picture window framing Laramie Peak and is located just south of Douglas via Highway 94 and Esterbrook Road. As you pass the church to your right and continue toward the cluster of cabins, take a right turn and head toward the campground. A few miles in you will find a parking area and trail head for one of my favorite trails to horseback ride, Sunset Ridge Trail. This short couple of mile loop trail takes you through the forest and spits you out to amazing views in a couple of locations. If you are hiking or biking, there are even a couple of benches to take a rest and soak it all in. Aside from this trail, there are numerous marked and numbered forest service roads that you can follow and explore.
Glendo State Park-Glendo Reservoir is an easy drive from Douglas off of I 25, just south. Fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping are all activities easily enjoyed within the park. There is a day fee per vehicle as well as camping fees if you choose to camp. The park is speckled with numerous trail heads ranging from short and easy to longer and a bit more difficult. Recent trail additions on the south side of the dam have really added to the variety and as of 2023, there are plans to put in a disc golf course.
Duncan Ranch-This area is just south of Glenrock on Boxelder Road. Follow the paved, winding road up to the top where there are parking areas on each side. If you take a horse trailer, you will want to park on the right side. The Back Country Horsemen volunteers have worked to build a wonderful 5 mile loop trail and have been adding to it. Horseback, hiking, or biking are all great ways to enjoy this public land. On the other side of the road is the County Park with camping spots and trails down to the bottom of the canyon. Go from the top of the world and an amazing view to the bottom of a beautiful and impressive canyon.
Laramie Peak-This towering peak reaches up into the skies over 10,000 feet above sea level and is iconic in Platte and Converse Counties. It is an easy landmark to make out. Fortunately, for the nature lover, it is also accessible in the summer months and has several campgrounds and trail heads around it. For the particularly fit, athletic, and adventurous, there is a hike all the way to the top for incredible views. This is a nearly 10 mile out and back trail that switchbacks taking you up around 3,000 feet of elevation. The trail is generally well managed and in good shape, but fallen trees may be encountered. Be sure to be well hydrated as elevation sickness can come on quite easily and you are quite a ways away from any town or help. You can reach Laramie Peak from Douglas by taking Hwy 94 to the end of the pavement, about 17 miles, and then turning right onto Esterbrook Road when you reach Esterbrook. Continue on for another 15 miles or so and you will see signs.
Labonte Canyon-South of Douglas via Highway 91 and then Fort Fetterman Road takes you to Labonte Canyon and Curtis Gulch campground. There are numerous camping areas as you come in and you can stop at any one of them and start off hiking or doing some trout fishing or horseback riding or just sitting and enjoying the sound of the creek and the wind in the tree tops. Continue on into the campground all the way to the end and there is an official campground with sites and restrooms. Within walking distance of this area are several trail heads of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty accessible via whatever means you enjoy taking trails.
Thunder Basin National Grassland-Just north out of Douglas on Highway 59 you will find wide open grassland as far as the eye can see. There is not necessarily good hiking or trails, but you can get off on dirt county roads and find some public land where you can take in the unique wildlife of the Grasslands. Pronghorn Antelope, Swift Fox, Sage Grouse, and Burrowing Owls are just a few of the species you may be lucky enough to see if you are quiet and patient enough. Beware of rattlesnakes and make sure you have gps to ensure you are not trespassing onto private land as there are not always fences to indicate. It is here in the Grasslands that I sometimes let the wind blowing through the grasses take my stress with it. There are no trees or anything for protection from the sun and wind...and the Wyoming Wind is for real, so keep that in mind if you opt to head out that way.
Ayers' Natural Bridge-Located south of exit 151 off of I 25, this park is the only one on the list that is not pet friendly, but it is a very beautiful park and gorgeous naturally formed archway. A very easy drive on paved roads gets you to this little gem tucked away around a corner. Pack a lunch, don your comfy shoes, bring a camera, and consider making use of the horseshoe pits or badminton nets between short, fairly easy hikes!
These are just a few of my favorite spots to decompress and just get away. Most of these locations have very little cell service for better than half way to them as well as the whole time you are there, so be prepared with food, water, appropriate clothing, make sure somebody knows where you are going and when you plan to return, and make smart choices. Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. Oh...and see if you can spot any locations where I have done photo sessions along the way! All of these photos on this post were taken at or along the way to places I listed above.
Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to see more like it?
If you answered "Yes", I have good news for you! I am part of a blog circle comprised of pet photographers from all over the world. To see the next post on this topic, Syracuse photographer Nancy of Nancy Kieffer photography shares the fun of getting out in the fresh air with your dog- even in snow. Follow the links at the bottom of her blog and continue around the circle. When you find yourself back here, you know you made it all the way around! Happy reading!