The Snowy Range Scenic Byway & Battle Highway Scenic Highway
SNOWY RANGE SCENIC BYWAY crosses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range of southern Wyoming, taking travelers close enough to Medicine Bow Peak to feel the chill from its year-round glaciers. Even deep into summer, it is easy to see how the Snowy Range got its name. Glistening white remnants of last winter’s blizzards cap the 12,000 ft peaks. The byway includes the 27 mile portion of WY Highway 130 that crosses the Medicine Bow National Forest.
The two-lane highway (WY 130) leads over the second highest mountain pass in Wyoming and takes the traveler from low-land sagebrush prairie to a high-altitude alpine environment. The many lakes and streams in the area are home to rainbow trout, brook trout and Wyoming’s only native trout, the cutthroat. Wildflowers carpet the alpine meadows throughout the summer.
A number of turn-outs allow the traveler to experience the mountains, whether it is listening to the marmots whistling amongst their community at Libby Flats, taking the short trail over a mountain stream at Lake Marie, or watching hummingbirds at the Brush Creek Visitor’s Center. Wildlife is abundant throughout the byway.
The seasonal pass usually opens by Memorial Day weekend and closes about mid-October. The Byway can be reached by exiting Interstate 80 at Laramie or at Walcott Junction and Saratoga/Encampment. Driving time depends on the interests of the visitor. Driving straight through during the summer will take about an hour. The route rises to a height of 10,847 ft above sea level.
BATTLE HIGHWAY SCENIC BYWAY (WY Highway 70) goes from Encampment over the Sierra Madre Range within the Medicine Bow National Forest. Approximately 10 miles west of Encampment is the location of Battle, one of many ghost towns in the Sierra Madres, which also is home to the towns of Redefeha, Dillon, Rambler, and Copperton.
Two miles west of the Continental Divide is a turnout overlooking Battle Lake and a monument to Thomas A. Edison. While vacationing here in 1878, Edison threw a broken bamboo fishing pole in the fire and was intrigued by the way the frayed pieces glowed. These observations supposedly gave Edison the idea on how to develop his own design for the light bulb’s filament.
Another attraction of the Sierra Madres is the Aspen Alley. These large stands of quaking aspens moved into the region during the mining era. This particularly famous strand of beautifully flamboyant foliage is most beautiful in the fall and can be reached by turning north on Forest Road 801. The colors generally peak in late September.
From Saratoga, go south on Highway 130 to Highway 230 on to Encampment ( a quick 20 minute trip). From Encampment turn west on Battle Highway (Highway 70) across the Sierra Madre towards Baggs to go to “Aspen Alley” – a beautiful area filled with very tall aspen trees overarching a half mile stretch of dirt road. On Highway 70 leaving Encampment, travel west approximately 25 miles to Deep Creek Road (Forest Road 801). From there you will travel north just .8 miles which will lead right to Aspen Alley.