Laramie River: Activities, Wildlife, and Conservation


Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Colorado lies the tranquil beauty of the Laramie River with its crystal-clear waters and stunning landscapes. Spanning over 280 miles through Colorado and Wyoming, it’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Flowing gracefully through lush valleys and rugged terrain, the Laramie River offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, from fishing and hiking to rafting and wildlife observation. With its pristine waters teeming with native trout and its banks adorned with towering cottonwood trees, this majestic river offers a sanctuary for those seeking solace in the great outdoors.

Join us as we embark on a journey to explore the wonders of this iconic waterway and uncover the secrets that lie along its meandering path.


  • The Laramie River is a prime destination for fly fishing, with abundant trout populations.
  • Hiking trails along the river provide breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • The river's ecosystem supports diverse flora and fauna, making it an ideal spot for wildlife watching.

Exploring the Great Outdoors

The Laramie River begins in Colorado’s Roosevelt National Forest, flows northeast through the Laramie Mountains into Wyoming, through the Laramie Plains, and is met by the Little Laramie River near Laramie, Wyoming. It’s also known as the Big Laramie River.

If you’re curious about where the name Laramie originates, it comes from the French fur trader Jaques La Ramie, who visited the area in the early 19th century.

Hiking and Trails

The Laramie River is surrounded by numerous hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. The Rawah Wilderness Area, located along the river, offers over 76 miles of trails, including the popular Rawah Trail, which follows the river for several miles. Other notable trails include the West Branch Trail and the Link Trail, which provide stunning views of the river and the surrounding Medicine Bow Mountains.

When hiking along the Laramie River, it’s essential to come prepared with appropriate gear, including sturdy hiking boots, plenty of water, and sun protection. The best times to visit for optimal hiking experiences are typically from June to September when the weather is mild and the trails are most accessible.

Fishing Opportunities

The Laramie River is renowned for its excellent fly fishing and fish runs. Its abundant populations of wild brown trout and rainbow trout make the river’s private stretch at Rawah Ranch a particularly popular spot for anglers.

The best seasons for fishing on the Laramie River are spring and fall, when the water temperatures are cooler, and the fish are more active. Anglers should obtain a valid Colorado fishing license before casting their lines.

Wildlife Observation

The Laramie River’s ecosystem is home to diverse wildlife, including elk, moose, pronghorn, and various bird species. The Laramie River Dude Ranch offers guided naturalist programs, which include bird watching, wildflower walks, and animal tracking.

When observing wildlife along the river, it’s crucial to maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing their natural habitats. Bringing a pair of binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens can help you get a closer look without interfering with the animals’ behavior.

Thrills on the Water

Rafting Adventures

Rafting on the Laramie River provides an exhilarating experience for adventurers of all skill levels. The river’s North Platte section, located just north of the Colorado border, offers premier whitewater rafting during the high-flow months.

For those seeking a guided rafting experience, Rocky Mountain Adventures offers trips down the nearby Poudre Canyon. When rafting on the river, it is essential to follow safety guidelines and wear appropriate gear, such as life jackets and helmets.

Kayaking and Canoeing

The Laramie River offers excellent opportunities for kayaking and canoeing, with several scenic spots along its course. The river between Jelm and Woods Landing and the nearby Rob Roy Reservoir is a popular kayaking destination.

Beginners can rent kayaks and canoes from local outfitters, which provide safety equipment and insider recommendations. It’s important to check weather conditions and water levels before embarking on a kayaking or canoeing trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Nature and Conservation

Flora and Fauna

The Laramie River area is rich in biodiversity, with many plant and animal species thriving in its ecosystems. The surrounding forests are home to lodgepole pine, quaking aspen, and Engelmann spruce, while the river’s banks are lined with willows and cottonwoods.

The river and its tributaries support diverse aquatic life, including trout, mountain whitefish, and longnose dace. The surrounding wetlands and meadows provide habitat for numerous bird species, such as the sandhill crane, great blue heron, and belted kingfisher.

Environmental Education

The Laramie River area offers several opportunities for visitors to learn about the river’s ecosystem and conservation efforts. The Laramie River Dude Ranch’s naturalist program includes educational activities such as orienteering with a compass, casting animal tracks, and learning about the local flora and fauna.

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest encompasses a portion of the Laramie River and provides educational resources and guided tours focused on the area’s natural history and conservation initiatives.

Planning Your Visit

Accommodations and Camping

Visitors to the Laramie River area have accommodation options, ranging from rustic cabins to luxurious dude ranches. The Laramie River Dude Ranch offers cozy lodging and a range of activities, including horseback riding, fishing, and hiking.

For those who prefer a more immersive outdoor experience, several campgrounds are located along the river, such as the Jelm Mountain Campground and the Woods Landing Campground. When camping, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of waste to help preserve the river’s natural beauty.

Travel Tips and Resources

When planning a visit to the Laramie River, it’s important to check weather conditions and river levels, as these can impact outdoor activities. Visitors should also know of any fire restrictions or closures in the area, particularly during the dry summer months.

Local outfitters and guide services, such as Rocky Mountain Adventures, can provide valuable resources and assistance for exploring the river and its surroundings.


What is the best time of year to visit the Laramie River for fly fishing?

The best seasons for fly fishing on the Laramie River are spring and fall, when water temperatures are cooler and trout are more active.

Are there any permits required for hiking in the Laramie River area?

While permits are not typically required for day hiking in the Laramie River area, some trails may have specific regulations or restrictions. Before hiking, it’s always a good idea to check with the local forest service or park authorities.

Can beginners participate in rafting and kayaking activities on the Laramie River?

Yes, several beginner-friendly rafting and kayaking opportunities exist on the Laramie River and its nearby sections. Local outfitters like the Rocky Mountain Adventures offer rentals and guided trips for those new to these activities.

What are some of the conservation efforts in place to protect the Laramie River?

Conservation efforts in the Laramie River area include habitat restoration projects, water quality monitoring, and educational initiatives to promote responsible recreation and stewardship of the river’s resources.

How can visitors contribute to the preservation of the Laramie River?

Visitors can help preserve the Laramie River by practicing Leave No Trace principles, such as properly disposing of waste, minimizing campfire impacts, and respecting wildlife. Supporting local conservation organizations and participating in volunteer opportunities can also positively impact the river’s health and future.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.