Gorgeous Central Wyoming State Parks for Hiking

With the Tetons and Yellowstone to the west and Bear’s Lodge to the east, you might want to know why you’d take the time and spend the money to hike in the middle of the state. Well, Central Wyoming State Parks offer unique and exceptional trails, with my favorites taking hikers along lakes nestled among beautiful hills. Surrounded by rolling hills and cut through by canyons, these lands offer a more secluded experience for travelers. They are also within a short drive of Casper, Wyoming, which makes for a great hiking homebase – with its own trails as well as hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and more.

central wyoming state parks

What’s great about these parks as well is that they include some of the coolest lakeside trails in central Wyoming. And in these parks, there is more than just hiking to be done. You can boat in either lake, you can camp, and one of the parks even has a very special museum located inside of a building constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Come along to learn more about these spectacular places, and get a taste for these trails through my pictures.

Central Wyoming State Parks

central wyoming state parks

Guernsey Reservoir (c) ABR 2023

Hiking in central Wyoming is an experience that not many people have, but hiking enthusiasts would truly be missing out if they didn’t give this area a look. For me, my favorite things about these two parks are how similar and yet distinct they are. I did trails in both parks in one day, and had a totally different experience in each one.

I think the Central Wyoming state parks are a good option for people who may consider themselves to fit in a few different categories. (1) Hiking enthusiasts. I can enjoy all kinds of trails and I love exploring the famous and less explored corners of the places that I visit. I’ve almost never met a trail I didn’t like. And I feel like a didn’t really experience a place if I didn’t hike a bit while there. (2) For people who will be traveling through the middle of the state. If you will be driving through Casper anyway, don’t give these parks a miss. They are a great place to get some rest, stretch your legs, and see some beautiful places.

Glendo State Park

central wyoming state parks

View of Glendo Reservoir from the trail (c) ABR 2023

Glendo State Park is one of the best Central Wyoming state parks. It wraps around the Glendo Reservoir and is nested right nextdoor to a small town of the same name. It’s super easy to get to, and has lots of great trail options, along with places to picnic and enjoy the lake, either on the beach or on the water. Of course, it should be no surprise that when I visited, I just came for the trails. But it is somewhere that you could easily spend the day with the family.

When I visited, I did a loop which you can find a map for on AllTrails under “Twenty 15 and Narrows Bluff Loop;” it’s a varied and challenging option among the lakeside trails of Central Wyoming. If you don’t mind some steep elevation loss and gain, I highly recommend this trail. I went in a counter-clockwise direction and really enjoyed how this loop let me sample the complex ecology of the area and get some amazing pictures of the lake.

Twenty 15 and Narrows Bluff Loop Route

central wyoming state parks

When going counterclockwise, you start in the woods (c) ABR 2023

The trail will take you through an interesting segment of the forest that hugs the shores of the reservoir. And then you will hike down towards the lake, along a scrub-covered cliff. When I visited, it was towards the end of the summer, so the water level was low. But the views were still exceptional.

central wyoming state parks

Time to hike up! (c) ABR 2023

This part of the trail then weaves its way through a box-canyon, before working its way back up the cliffs. The forest here is low-lying and not particularly thick, but comfortably shady. Nonetheless, when I hiked back up the cliffside, I was huffing and got pretty hot. I’d suggest only doing this trail in the morning in the summer. But this is a spectacular time to take in the cliffs, and the lake, before the trail comes up to the top of a ridge.

central wyoming state parks

Views from the top! (c) ABR 2023

Be sure to stop and take a break here. You will likely need to catch your breath, but the views here are exceptional. In particular, I enjoyed looking across Glendo Reservoir to Eagle Peak. I had to get a pano here as well thought, because every direction was beautiful. It was probably my favorite view among many great ones that I got in the Central Wyoming state parks.

After you top out, you will continue to cross the ridge, because descending back to your vehicle and the trailhead. The mix of cardio, views, and shady trail makes this one of the best options for hiking in Central Wyoming.

Getting There

Glendo State Park is just about an hour outside of Casper, Wyoming, right off of the I-25. Take the exit for Glendo and then head south out of town. You should see signs for the state park. And the parking lot for this loop is just above the dam- there is a trailhead information kiosk with a logbook to sign, an outhouse, and views of the lake from here. It is marked on the map below as the Dam Overlook Area – to the right.

Need to Know Information

Official Website

Trail Name: Twenty 15 and Narrows Bluff Loop

Trail Length: 3.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 406 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Entrance Fee: $7 per day, per vehicle

Bathroom at Trailhead? Yes; outhouse

4WD Needed to Access? No

Guernsey State Park

central wyoming state parks

The reservoir looked very canyon-like here (c) ABR 2023

Guernsey State Park has a lot going for it among the Central Wyoming state parks. Not only does it surround the gorgeous Guernsey Reservoir, but it is home to some exceptional, historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The reservoir forms a lake that snakes through canyon-like passages among sandy, striated cliffs. The light tans of the layered earth here is topped by grasses and shrubby trees. Meanwhile, the CCC structures are a mix of sturdy picnic shelters and a museum. They are made of rough hewn logs and massive stones. Some of the open-air windows look out on framed views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There is also a historic bathroom… for anyone interested in experiencing an outhouse that is nearly 100 years old. (It wasn’t half bad!).

central wyoming state parks

Historic picnic structure (c) ABR 2023

For this state park, I hiked the North Bluff Trail and Echo Cliff Trail. Both of these are near the beautiful “Castle” that was built by the CCC on the cliffs above the reservoir. I was pretty tired when I visited, so I wasn’t looking for a hard hike. (I had just come from Glendo State Park!). So this was the perfect combination of beautiful walk, great views of the lake, and an opportunity to explore the CCC architecture in this park. It’s a nice spot for some relaxed hiking in Central Wyoming.

North Bluff Trail and Echo Cliff Trail Route

central wyoming state parks

Historic outhouse (c) ABR 2023

I parked at the Castle. It’s the perfect place to have lunch here and if nothing else, get to explore the structure. I was also luckily enough to park when no one else was using the area, so I had the stone shelter and the nearby historic outhouse to myself. After spending some time exploring the thick-walled CCC masterpiece, and snacking on some beef jerky and trailmix, I headed off down the flat, North Bluff Trail.

This trail travels both east and west from the Castle, following the flat contours of the cliffs above the lake. I headed east on a whim, and was glad that I did so, because I happened upon Echo Cliff Trail, which I hadn’t seen on any maps. North Bluff is a great trail for families (as long as you are careful of the cliffs). It is relatively flat, and so it makes for an easy walk. However, I found it is bit boring and the trees were sparse, so it was also a little hot while I was there. That being said, I think North Bluff is a great option among the lakeside trails in Central Wyoming – especially with the Castle being there.

central wyoming state parks

(c) ABR 2023

Echo Cliff Trail, on the other hand, is not at all a good trail for kids. While I enjoyed it, I actually wouldn’t suggest it to anyone but the surest hikers. It was a narrow trail that descended from the plateau, and runs along the upper parts of the cliffside. When I started down it, I thought it would go to the water, but it does not. Instead, the very narrow, gravel track takes you along the cliff to a small “cave” in the stone of the rock wall. There’s nothing much to explore here. People clearly hang out in this little stony shelter in the stone, but it is mostly exposed and not deep.

All that being said, I thought that this trail was a nice little adventure. And it was nice to get closer to the lake from here. Coupling this with the section of North Bluff and the Castle was the perfect little hike for me.

central wyoming state parks

Along the trail (c) ABR 2023

Truth be told though, I think Guernsey State Park is better suited to a full day. Besides the miles and miles of trails that I missed, I also didn’t have time to visit the museum. And I didn’t have time to get out on the water either. When planning your journeys to this area, you might think about dedicating a whole day to this beautiful spot among the Central Wyoming state parks.

Need to Know Information

Official Website

Trail Name: North Bluff from the Castle

Trail Length: 7+ miles out and back

Elevation Gain: 200 ft

Difficulty: Easy (Echo Cliffs is hard due to its technical and dangerous nature)

Entrance Fee: $7 per vehicle per day; if you visited Glendo in the same day, your day pass will count for Guernsey as well.

Bathroom at Trailhead? Yes

4WD Needed to Access? No, but the road up to the Castle is a dirt road.

Trail Safety First

Please remember that the tips above are NOT comprehensive. You are responsible for your own safety on the trail. Be prepared and cautious. Coming home alive and unharmed is more important than any picture or hiking accomplishment.

Un Poco En Español

central wyoming state parks

Echo Cliff Senedero (c) ABR 2023

El Central de Wyoming es un lugar menos famoso, pero es bonito y más tranquilo. Hay muchos parques en este parte del estate, pero mis favoritos son Glendo State Park y Guernsey State Park. Ambos tienen senderos cerca del lagos, y con vistas muy especiales.

Para ambos, hay más información en los websites de los parques Glendo and Guernsey. Y hay una taquilla para acceso en la entrada para ambos. En el verano, hay una persona en este taquilla, pero en el otoño y primavera usted tiene usar un computadora. Es muy sencillo si tu tiene un tarjeta de crédito para este. Creo que, si usted quiere camina en dos parques del estado (Wyoming State Park) en un día, solo necesita comprar un boleto. Este funciona en todos parques por un día.

central wyoming state parks

(c) ABR 2023

Para los senderos, lo aviso que use AllTrails para obtener una mapa. Entonces, hay mapas cerca del sendero, pero hay muchos senderos allí. Pues es un poco confundido sin AllTrails o similar.

Y, por favor, traduce mi sección sobre tu seguridad – arriba. Caminando en la naturaleza es muy bueno para la alma pero, es peligroso también.

Exploring More of Wyoming

There is so much more to explore of Wyoming! If you are in the Casper area, you might consider hiking near town. For other ideas and guides across Wyoming, check out my Visitor’s Guide to Wyoming for inspiration, tips, and more!

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central wyoming state parks

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4 Comments

  1. Bob

    Thanks for the section in Spanish! Love your photography.

    • waitingforrain28

      Thank you! And I don’t do the Spanish often; it’s a bit draining but good practice.

  2. June

    Lots of great info! Where to next?

    • waitingforrain28

      My next couple posts will be on a couple of Arizona and Colorado spots. As for me personally, I am taking a bit of a break to do a little recovery from my chronic illness.

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