Casper Mountain is quickly melting from snowy white to lush green, which means we’re saying goodbye to the chilly winter months and ready to begin making sweet summer memories. While this usually means getting out of town, don’t start packing the car just yet. In Casper, we can fit a full vacation’s worth of activities into a single weekend. With the river, lake and mountain all within a short drive from downtown, get the best of the city or a national park without anyone asking if you’re there yet. Save that vacation time to escape somewhere warm in the winter, and this season, take advantage of proximity, affordability and convenience all without leaving home.
Cast somewhere special: While Casper is world renowned for blue-ribbon trout fishing in places like the famed Miracle Mile and Grey Reef stretches of the North Platte River, you don’t need to leave city limits to land the catch of a lifetime. Recent estimates of 2,200 trout per mile or about 2,400 pounds per mile put Casper’s downtown area squarely within blue ribbon status.
See the view from the top: Garden Creek Falls in Rotary Park at the base of Casper Mountain is one of Casper’s most treasured spots. Easily accessible and a starting point for some of the area’s best hiking, watching the clear water cascade into a primal mountain pool is a foolproof way to remind yourself why you love nature. The 4.5 mile Bridle Trail begins at the base of the falls and features spectacular views of the Casper area below. If your cardiovascular system makes it to Split Rock, consider it a badge of honor.
Make the past your present: A visit to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is a lesson in connectivity — connection to the past, present and future. This museum, which is also home to the new VisitCasper Welcome Center & Scenic Overlook, goes beyond traditional lessons of facts, dates and places; history will come alive with the human story of the pursuit of liberty, freedom and a better life.
Propose a toast: When you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind drink – something handcrafted, tested and reworked to perfection – visit Backwards Distilling Company. This family-owned business prides itself on its hand-selected, high-quality ingredients to bring out the best of their expert distilling practices. From the opening of grain bags to the stoppering of bottles, Backwards spirits are made entirely in Casper.
Take a wonderful tour: Familiarize yourself with the city’s hidden jewels with a tour of the Seven Wonders of Casper. No one knows who came up with the list, and depending on who you ask, there’s not always consensus about which wonders constitute the primary seven. Among the 11 different options I’ve heard, you can hunt down the Clock that No One Sees, gain a new perspective in the Magic Mirror, race down the Spiral Staircase or share secrets in the Echo Chamber.
Take the trail less traveled: Grab your bike and helmet, and head up Casper Mountain to Eadsville Trail. Well-marked, this single-track dirt trail is easy to find and in a stunning area with granite rock features. While beginners will appreciate maintaining their speed along this fast course, at 8,000 feet, the Eadsville Trail is a serious cardio workout. Not only will you be breathing hard, but you’ll also gasp at the incredible views of the city below.
Push historical boundaries: In 1856, Edward Martin left Iowa with a group of Mormon pioneers bound for Salt Lake City. They were too poor to buy horses and covered wagons, so most brought their belongings in handcarts. They left late in the season with inadequate provisions and were trapped in a blizzard 30 miles from present day Alcova. Of the 600 who made the journey, 150 died of starvation and exposure before the rest were rescued by a team from Salt Lake City. Head out to Martin’s Cove to try pulling your own handcart to get just a glimpse of how difficult the journey West was and how brave these pioneers were. As you’re pushing be sure to keep in mind that you’re in the comfort of warm summer.
Make some waves: Is there a better way to spend a lazy summer day than floating the North Platte River? For a long float, go from Bessemer Bend to Robertson Road; for a shorter trip, try Morad Park to downtown Casper. Along the way, you’ll see birds, wildlife along the banks, and fish leaping out of the water. Relax, soak up the sun and enjoy the untarnished beauty of Central Wyoming. Life jackets are available to borrow free of charge from the Casper Fire Department.
Get a cowboy makeover: Experience the small-town charm of downtown shopping while you get in touch with your Western roots. Naturally, Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters should be your first stop. They have been serving the Cowboy State since 1919 and have nine floors of western apparel to choose from. Cowboy boots are their specialty, with over 10,000 pairs of boots to choose from. Accessorize at Cadillac Cowgirl, then decorate your home with goodies from Sierra West.
Check the calendar: Casper is Wyoming’s events hub, and there’s something happening nearly every day of the summer. Staple annual events include Harmony, Hops & Hope in May, College National Finals Rodeo in June, the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo in July and Beartrap Summer Festival in August. Of course, the headlining event of 2017 is the total eclipse, but there’s plenty of highlights including the Charlie Daniels Band and Beach Boys.
For more information on activities and events, or to deep-dive on everything Casper has to offer go to www.VisitCasper.com.