Nestled in the Medicine Bow National Forest, a portion of the 29-mile Snowy Range Scenic Byway was known as the Great Sky Road when it was built as a wagon road over the Medicine Bow Mountain Range in the 1870s. Time came and went, and many wagon wheels traversed the road; then, in the 1920s, the road was widened using horse-drawn equipment, and eventually, the road was paved in the 30s. In 1988 the Snowy Range Scenic Byway received its official national designation.
Traveling over the second-highest mountain pass in Wyoming, the Byway rises from 8,000 feet above sea level on the valley floor to a height of 10,847 feet. Travelers on this road intimately experience the majestic Snowy Range Mountains as an alternative to Interstate 80 for part of the year. You will be led past deep glacial lakes, windswept meadows, rushing and tumbling streams, and along the base of soaring granite peaks. Be sure to visit the natural hot springs at Saratoga to make this trip truly magical.
It is estimated that the rugged peaks of the Snowy Range rose 50 to 70 million years ago. It is also said that the mountain peaks may have once been much higher. Geologists suggest that approximately 15,000 feet of rock have eroded since the mountain range’s creation.
Nearby, the Battle Pass Scenic Byway, named for the 1841 battle between a group of fur trappers and a band of Native American warriors, travels through the Medicine Bow National Forest crossing the crest of the Sierra Madre Mountains, well above the tree line. You can learn about the ghost town of Battle from a turnout along this Byway Road while taking in a jaw-dropping view. Battle Pass crosses the National Continental Divide Scenic Trail, and you may encounter CDT day trip and thru journey hikers.
Wyoming’s Battle Pass Scenic Byway connects the Upper North Platte Valley and the towns of Encampment and Riverside to the Little Snake River Valley and the towns of Baggs, Dixon, and Savery from May to October. Wind your way through the Medicine Bow National Forest and enjoy sweeping views of the Sierra Madre Range. Wildlife is abundant and one of the greatest treasures of Wyoming; keep your camera and binoculars at the ready, as elk, deer, moose, black bear, mountain lions, big horned sheep, hawks, and eagles all call these mountains home.