Autumn in the Snowy Range Mountains

The crispness of fall is starting to creep into the morning and evening air. The mountains are beginning to discard their summer green in favor of warmer autumnal tones. And the elk, deer, pronghorn, and moose are preparing for their courtship season. Autumn in the Snowy Mountains is nearly upon us. Do you need to recharge after a busy summer? Do you crave one more escape to nature before winter sets in? Come to the Snowies this fall.

Fall is that cozy time of year for warm sweaters, hot beverages, beautiful colors, and crackling fires. And autumn in the Snowy Mountains near Centennial, Wyoming will not disappoint. If the end of summer has you wishing for one more getaway before winter, consider planning a retreat to the Snowy Range Area of the Rocky Mountains. 

Autumn in Snowy Range
Libby Creek Photo Credit K. McShane

Stay at the Cozy Mountain View Historic Hotel 

The fall nights may be getting a bit chilly for camping, but The Mountain View Historic Hotel and Cafe in Centennial, Wyoming is the perfect warm hideaway for this season (or any season). Spend the weekend (or week) in one of the hotel’s six rooms and suites. A stay at this beautiful and homey hotel is a great way to enjoy the best of the fall weather, without sacrificing comfort. You can hike, fish, and sightsee by day and enjoy a snug bed with all the modern amenities you could want in the evening. (Read more about this amazing hotel here.)

Autumn in the Snowy Range Mountains
The Mountain View Historic Hotel Photo Credit K. McShane

Feed Your Stomach While You Feed Your Soul

Before venturing into the autumn wilderness for a day of hiking, fishing, or nature-watching, fill your stomach with a delicious and hearty breakfast at the Mountain View Cafe. Hot and fresh omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and waffles are the best fuel for a day spent exploring and reveling in the sights of fall. Not to mention the Mountain View Cafe’s signature house-roasted coffee, which is AMAZING! While you are enjoying your cup of joe and morning meal, you can gaze out the cafe windows at the gorgeous autumn mountains.

The Mountain View Cafe is only open for breakfast this fall (open until 11 Tuesday – Saturday, and noon on Sunday), but the mountain town of Centennial offers several other restaurants to top off your day in the mountains. Dinners at the Old Corral Steakhouse or the Bear Bottom Bar and Grill are always fantastic and filling.

Revel in the Autumn Colors

Autumn in the Snowy Range
Little Laramie Trail Photo credit K. McShane

As the temperatures decrease, the mountains adorn themselves with their autumn raiment. This is, of course, the primary incentive to visit the Snowy Range in fall. Whether you are driving the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, hiking the endless forest trails, or fishing the glassy lakes, you will be awestruck by the stunning vistas. 

In the autumn the aspen turn to gold and the oak trees become ruddy shades of orange and yellow. While the number of deciduous trees may be less than in other areas of the country, the contrast with the deep emerald of pine, spruce, and fir trees makes their colors explode in a way that is truly exceptional. The sweeping slopes of green, gold, and orange juxtaposed against rocky peaks and a brilliant blue sky make for unrivaled photo opportunities.

Hike the Tranquil Trails

Autumn in Snowy Range
Little Laramie River Photo Credit K. McShane

As if the views weren’t enough, hiking in the fall also provides exclusive appeal. The heat of summer has melted away, and the coolness of autumn is a welcome respite. Hiking in the brisk air seems to lend more energy and vitality to a hike. Some higher trails may have early snow, so it is important to wear appropriate layers and adequate footwear. However, the cooler temperatures mean no mosquitoes. (Check out an interactive map of hiking trails in the Snowy Range area here).

What’s more, hiking in the fall is very peaceful compared to the hustle and bustle of the peak summer months. Much like hiking in spring, the trails are less-traveled and crowded and the serenity is palpable. A mountain trail in autumn is the epitome of serenity. 

Watch Wildlife

Autumn Wildlife
Moose Photo Credit K. McShane

Yet another reason to visit the Snowy Range in autumn is the abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities. This is especially true before the hunting season is in full swing. Pronghorn, elk, deer, and moose are in their fall rut (mating season) and are often less shy as they pursue females. They are also trying to add as much additional weight before the scarcity of winter and will spend long hours grazing in the open. Plus, the fact that the mountains see fewer tourists in the fall means that there is less human encroachment to make them scarce.

Relax, Renew, and Rejuvenate

Autumn in the Snowy Range
View of Lewis Lake and Sugar Loaf Photo Credit K. McShane

Whatever it is that draws you to the Snowy Range in autumn—whether it be a cozy stay in a historic hotel, breathtaking views, or a quiet and peaceful hike—the mountains promise serenity and rest. Leave behind the busyness of the everyday hubbub and renew yourself in the mountains.

Book any room or suite for 2 guests now through Oct for $88, Call the hotel directly to access this special. Based on Availability. Subject to Blackout Dates.

Leah Veinbergs at Two Little Time

The Historic Mountain View Hotel and Cafe

A Stay at The Historic Mountain View Hotel

The Historic Mountain View Hotel and Cafe
North Fork of Little Laramie River Photo Credit Leah Veinbergs

There was just the slightest nip in the air as my husband and I embarked on an impromptu evening hike northwest of Centennial, WY. We had just checked into our room at the Mountain View Historic Hotel in Centennial and had some time to explore before dinner. Our stay at the Mountain View Hotel came as a much-needed evening away from the kids, and we didn’t want to waste one minute. 

We left Centennial and drove a short distance along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway before turning down Sand Lake Road. We bumped along the dirt road until we found a spot to park. Walking along the North Fork of the Little Laramie River, there was still snow on the ground and plenty of moose sign. The air was crisp, the sky was clear, and the river complemented the evening song of the birds—perfect.

For a detailed map of the area see the U.S. Forest Service Interactive Visitor Map.

The Mountain View Historic Hotel

The Mountain View Hotel is not short on historic charm. From the original fixtures and woodwork to the molded tin ceilings in the cafe, it is full of beautiful and unique elements. Although it was built in 1907, the hotel as been carefully restored while offering modern amenities to accommodate guests. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Historic Mountain View Hotel and Cafe
Photo Credit Kathleen McShane

The owners, Mike and Kathleen, are absolutely fantastic hosts. From the moment you walk in you are welcomed, and encouraged to make yourself at home. Mike is full of conversation and dry wit. Kathleen has a quiet and soothing presence that makes you feel instantly at ease. 

Suites and Rooms at the Mountain View Hotel

The hotel offers six rooms and suites with private bathrooms, wi-fi, direct TV, a refrigerator and a microwave. Each room or suite is a little different and offers unique historical details and views of the majestic mountains, sweeping prairie, or quaint downtown of Centennial.

Our suite—Hahn’s Peak— was spacious, to say the least. Although we were fortunate to find a babysitter for the night, the room could easily have accommodated our toddler and preschooler as well. The entry to the suite was a cozy space with a couch and chair, a large  TV, and a mini-fridge with coffee pot and microwave. There were also two queen size beds in a separate room with a view of the town of Centennial and the Snowy Range mountains. And, of course, a sizeable and clean bathroom.

The Historic Mountain View Hotel and Cafe
Hahn’s Peak Suite Sitting Room Photo Credit Kathleen McShane

Everywhere in the room were little touches and details to make it special. There were the tasty ginger cookies with the handwritten welcome note, the framed photographs of local flora and fauna, and the selection of books and board games to make the room as cozy as possible.

The Historic Mountain View Hotel and Cafe
Hahn’s Peak Suite Bedroom Photo Credit Kathleen McShane

For more information on individual rooms and to make a reservation visit The Mountain View Historic Hotel and Cafe homepage.

The Centennial Night Life

Of course, breakfast and lunch at the Mountain View Cafe are NOT to be missed. While the hotel does not serve dinner, there are several tasty options within walking distance. The Bear Bottom (formerly the Bear Tree) offers unique takes on traditional pub food, a full bar, and live music on summer weekends. The Old Corral Steakhouse has a cozy and unique interior, and a menu of steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and pasta, as well as a full bar.

Centennial is the quintessential mountain town. Officially established in 1876, it has a population of just under three hundred and an elevation of over 8,000 feet. The town itself is certainly worth visiting. Besides the restaurants mentioned, there is the Nici Self-Museum, several gift shops, and the best ice cream at the Old Country Junction.

The Breakfast at the Mountain View Hotel

After a quiet and uninterrupted sleep on an extremely comfortable bed, we awoke to smell of freshly brewed coffee. The Mountain View Hotel roasts its own coffee. The coffee on its own is reason enough for a visit to the hotel and cafe. If you don’t believe me, come and try one of their lattes.

The Historic Mountain View Hotel and Cafe
Veggie Omelet Photo Credit Kathleen McShane

At breakfast, in the charming and cozy cafe, we perused a menu of novel twists on traditional breakfast fare. I could hardly choose between the several options for omelets, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and waffles. I finally settled on a veggie omelet. It was a delicious concoction of fresh veggies, eggs, ricotta, and black magic. All of the food is homemade and the ingredients are beyond fresh.

The Perfect Escape

After my stay and meal at the hotel, I know I will definitely back! Sitting at the small table, gazing out the window at the mist-covered morning mountains, sipping my coffee, and listening to the murmur of conversation in the cafe, I found a little slice of heaven. The slow pace of the country, the tranquility of the mountains, and the cozy, restful atmosphere of the Mountain View Hotel and Cafe make this a true treasure. I only wish I could have stayed a little longer.

For more ideas of what to do in Centennial and the Snowy Range see these blog posts!

Spring in the Snowy Range: A Season Like No Other

Fishing is for Everyone in the Snowy Range

3 Reasons Why You Should Visit Wyoming’s Snowy Range This Winter

Elevation Celebration 3rd Annual

Book your stay at The Mountain View Historic Hotel by July 31st  (subject to availability) and get 10% off your room when you mention this blog post!!

Leah Veinbergs at Two Little Time

 

Spring Wildflowers

Spring in the Snowy Range: A Season Like No Other

Spring in the Snowy Range

Springtime in the Snowy Range mountains of Wyoming is special. Truly, every season in the mountains is unique and wondrous in its own way, but there is something about spring. Perhaps it is the way this season is so often overlooked without the more obvious attractions of skiing, fishing, mountain biking, and hunting. Maybe it is because it sneaks up on you, bits of green and life bursting out of long-dormant forests shrouded in white. Or, possibly, it is the fact that it is so elusive, tucked clandestinely into the brief space between winter and summer.

Whatever the reason, there is no denying that springtime in the Snowy Range possesses an understated beauty and particular opportunities for those who dare to venture onto its wild slopes. Just as springtime blossoms slowly unfurl their petals in the warmth of the sun, the mountains are slowly coming to life.

Snowy Range Scenic Byway Spring
Clearing the Highway Photo Credit Fred Benson

The pass, Highway 130, is not fully open until Memorial Day, typically, and the weather can be unpredictable. However, spring in the Snowy Mountains draws an exclusive set of adventurers, explorers, and outdoorsmen and women.

Wyoming Mountain Spring
The Summit in June Photo Credit Leah Veinbergs

The Mountain View Hotel and Cafe

As always, The Mountain View Hotel and Cafe in Centennial, Wyoming is an ideal place to stay (or stop in a for breakfast or lunch) when visiting the mountains in the Spring. The busy season has yet to reach full swing and the peaceful mountain community is just starting to awaken to the spring weather.

With the remnants of the winter chill still clinging to the air, a cup of house-roasted coffee is the perfect way to start (or end) a day of adventuring in the mountains. What could be better than sipping a tasty brew in front of the cafe’s wood stove and soaking in the snow-capped mountains in the distance? The views of the mountain peaks are particularly stunning in the spring, as the stark white snow against slate gray rocks and green pines create a beautiful contrast.

Spring Hiking in the Snowy Range

Spring in the Snowy Range
Corner Mountain Trailhead Photo Credit Leah Veinbergs

Spring hiking is a memorable experience. The snowshoe season is starting to pass, although there are still plenty of trails that afford snowshoeing into May. The newly melted trails are often muddy and deadfalls have yet to be cleared, making for additional adventure.

It was into this uncertain terrain that my husband and I–our kids in tow–ventured one warm spring Saturday. We chose a short hike for our first hiking foray of the season and parked at the Corner Mountain Trailhead. As we began to trek into the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, I was thankful for wool socks and waterproof hiking boots. The trails were still mostly blanketed under a layer of snow, particularly further into the shade of the forest. (Click here for an interactive U.S. Forest Service map).

Notwithstanding the snow, the temperature was comparatively balmy. The sheer joy of being outdoors after the long winter is yet another reason to visit the mountains in spring, and not wait until summer. I find spring hiking to be an exhilarating antidote to winter’s inevitable cabin fever! 

Spring in the Snowy Range
Spring Family Hike Photo Credit Leah Veinbergs

Springtime hiking trails are decidedly less populated than in the summer and fall. For those who appreciate more serenity and solitude when wandering the woods, a spring hike is a great opportunity to experience the peace of nature without having to roam too far into the wilderness.

Spring Greenery in the Mountains

What surprised me, as we made our ½ mile loop through the mountains, was the unexpected amount of green. In many ways, there was more green to behold on the mountain slopes than there was in town (at several thousand feet lower elevation). The deep green of lodgepole and ponderosa pines stood out against the sparkling blue sky. Besides the evergreens, aspen, mountain ash, and other small trees and shrubs were budding and beginning to hint at the coming of summer.

Spring Wildflowers
Dwarf Mountain Fleabane Photo Credit K. McShane

By mid-May, a few hardy wildflowers are beginning to make their spring debut. The brown and green landscape is punctuated by bright bursts of color from Indian paintbrush, dwarf mountain fleabane, ball cactus, American pasqueflower (aka prairie crocus), and others. The mountain meadows will be overflowing with rainbows of wildflowers by summer, but the first spring blooms possess peculiar magic and allure.

Wyoming Spring Wildflowers
Indian Paintbrush Photo Credit K. McShane

Spring Birdwatching

In addition to the plant life renaissance taking place, the mountain birds are highly active in the spring. Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and the Snowy Range Scenic Byway are ideal places to observe Wyoming birds, according to the Audubon Society. The forest is alive with the calls of red-winged blackbirds, robins, and tree swallows–which all arrive by the end of April–as they search for mates and choose ideal nesting places.

Mountain Spring Western Tanager
White Crowned Sparrow Photo Credit K. McShane

Many bird species–of special interest to bird-watchers, naturalists, ornithologists, and wildlife photographers–call the Snowy Range home. Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is the only place in Wyoming where the Brown-capped Rosy-finch is found, for instance. Mountain bluebirds, mountain chickadees, Stellar’s jays, Townsend’s solitaires, American pipits, western tanagers, and ruby-crowned kinglets, among others, can be seen here as well.

Mountain Spring Hummingbird
Western Tanager Photo Credit K. McShane

Even hummingbirds can be found hovering around the new blossoms in the early spring. The hummingbirds often return to the mountains earlier than other areas. Visitors to The Mountain View Hotel Cafe often comment on how the tiny jewel-like birds have yet to return to the lower elevations of Laramie and Cheyenne, as they watch the birds flitter outside the cafe windows.

Wyoming’s position along the Central Flyway makes for wonderful viewing of migratory birds. Swainson’s hawks can be seen this time of year in the grasslands around the Snowy Range. Swainson’s hawks have one of the longest migrations of any raptor, as long as 7,100 miles, from southern Alaska to Brazil and Argentina. Wyoming is on their migration route and is home to many nesting hawks as well.

Mountain Spring Hummingbird
Broad Tailed Hummingbird Photo Credit K. McShane

For the avid birder, Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is just under an hour away. In spring, mallards, ruddy ducks, eared grebes, American coots, red-winged blackbirds, marsh wrens, Swainson’s hawk, red-tailed hawks, and golden eagles are abundant–with many species known to nest at the refuge. On rare occasions, snow geese, American white pelicans, snowy egrets, green and black-crowned night herons, mountain bluebirds, western tanagers, and even bald eagles have been spotted in this prairie haven.

Spring Wildlife Viewing Opportunities

Besides the birds, the refuge is also a wonderful place to view the absolutely prolific pronghorn herds (aka antelope). Pronghorn, of course, are not limited to the refuge. They can be found all over the grasslands surrounding the Snowy Range. In late May, some pronghorn are giving birth to their fawns. Trust me, there are few things cuter than a baby pronghorn.

Wyoming Spring Antelope
Pronghorn (aka Antelope) Photo Credit Jupiterimages

Spring is also an important time for elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer who are busy with their seasonal migrations from winter ranges to summer ranges. Every spring these beautiful animals leave grazing areas at lower elevations and make their way to their summer homes high in the mountains.

Elk, deer, and moose typically have their young in late May and early June. No matter how many times I have seen these beautiful animals, it is always an extraordinary privilege–especially when they are with their calves and fawns.

Wyoming Spring Moose
Moose Cow with Calf Photo Credit Martin Surynek

While there are no grizzly bears in the Snowy Range, black bears are very active in the spring. They are just emerging from winter hibernation and are extremely hungry. These impressive animals are wonderful to see, but it is important to remember that they can be dangerous. Never approach a bear–particularly a mother with cubs–or feed the bears. To learn more about staying safe around bears, be sure to read this National Parks Service Article on bear safety.

Don’t Wait Until Summer!

Whatever your reason for visiting the Snowy’s in spring, whether it be a cup of coffee with a view, a peaceful hike, or witnessing the miraculous awakening of nature, don’t let the opportunity pass. Spring is fleeting, and all-too-soon a new season will be upon us. Come now, spring is here!

Leah Veinbergs at Two Little Time

Book your stay at The Mountain View Historic Hotel by June 30th  (subject to availability) and get 10% off your room when you mention this blog post!!