The Snowy Range is about a 3 hour drive from downtown Denver, which takes you north on I-25 through the grassy Northern Colorado plains, through the college mountain town of Laramie, and westward on Route 130. Approaching the Snowies, you'll head through the tiny town of Centennial (pop. 100) and up through the Snowy Range Scenic Bypass (Rt. 130).
Along this bypass, you'll have easy access to some of the prettiest camping I've experienced in the Rockies. There are several campgrounds with lake access that can accommodate small to large parties with room for cars and RVs. We headed up early on a Saturday afternoon with no reservations and were able to find a beautiful campsite in the Brooklyn Lake campground with no problem. Your best bet is to drive along Route 130 until you see signs for the campground of your choice (http://goin2wyo.com/POI/sr_ne.pdf). We chose Brooklyn Lake, which has 19 sites and access to the Lakes Trail, which takes you to North Twin Lakes, Sheep Lake, and the Lost Glacier Lakes.
We spent Saturday beside Brooklyn Lake playing disc golf, romping with our dogs, and daring each other to take a dip in the still-freezing lake. Later in the afternoon, we headed up the Lakes Trail from the Brooklyn Lake campground trailhead. We hiked up to Lost Glacier Lakes (1.8 miles). The scenery was beautiful - the late afternoon sunshine was glinting off the changing golden-green aspen leaves along the trail, framing the reflecting lakes.
After tracking back along the Lakes Trail to our campsite on our out-and-back route, we set up the fire and got ready to watch the sunset over Brooklyn Lake. The campgrounds are relatively quiet through the night and there is access to running water.
The following Sunday morning, we woke early and packed ourselves up to head over to the parking lot next to Lake Marie for our summit hike of Medicine Bow Peak.
Lake Marie is a stunning place where the Snowy Range drops down dramatically into the adjacent lake and the views are epic. From here, we accessed the Medicine Bow Peak Trail (5.33 miles) to head up the side of the tallest peak within the Medicine Bow/Snowy Range.
The trail ascends steeply for the first mile along the ridgeline of the peak, but then evens out gradually for several miles over rolling plains and boulder fields. The last several miles are difficult (nearing 14er status) and the elevation gain of 1,600 feet occurs mostly in this last portion of the hike. When you reach the summit (12,013'), you'll have views of the surrounding valley, Lookout Lake, and Mirror Lake.
After the summit, the trail winds steeply down the opposite side of Medicine Bow Peak, culminating in several miles of more gradual descent back towards your car in Lake Marie parking lot (10,500').
For help planning your camping and hiking, click here for printable map.
Total trip mileage: 3.6 from Brooklyn Lake to Lost Glacier Lakes; 10.66 miles from Medicine Bow Peak Trailhead to summit and back down Lake Marie.
Hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend of camping & hiking the Snowies!