Vedauwoo (pronounced: vi də vu:) is an area of rocky outcrops (Sherman Granite) located in south-eastern Wyoming, United States, north of Interstate 80, between Laramie and Cheyenne. Its name, according to some, is an romanized version of the Arapaho word "bito'o'wu" meaning "earth-born". The area is within Medicine Bow - Routt National Forest and includes a day-use picnic area and an overnight campground. Vedauwoo is a popular climbing area. Mountain bikers, anglers, hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and rock climbers come from all parts of the world to sample the area's natural beauty. Climbers find some of the best wide crack climbs (called "offwidths") known. There are over 900 routes currently on record. Due to its elevation and distance from nearby cities, making it a dark site, it is a favorite of star party enthusiasts. Interstate 80 passes just south of the main rock outcroppings and well-marked highway signs indicate the exit to use in order to reach Vedauwoo. An alternative is to drive in from the Happy Jack road that runs between Laramie and Cheyenne.
The rock making up Vedauwoo's characteristic hoodoos and outcrops is the 1.4 billion year old Sherman Granite. These rocks represent some of the oldest rock in Wyoming (but are still more than a billion years younger than the Tetons). It is exposed at the surface around Vedauwoo due to the uplift of the Laramie Mountains that began around 70 million years ago. Younger layers of rock and sediment have progressively eroded, and this continues today. The hard granite of vedauwoo is made of large crystals of quartz, orthoclase, plagioclase, and some mica and is more erosion-resistant, resulting in unique, wind and water-sculpted forms. Just east of Vedauwoo, along I-80, spectacular sandstone cliffs are formed of the Permian-age Fountain Formation, which is about 300 million years old. Ancient sand dunes of a broad desert met with the salty waters of a shallow, epicontinental sea, producing beautiful examples of cross-stratification. Fossils of sea urchins, snails, and sea lilies can be found in some of these rocks.
Wildlife abounds in and around Vedauwoo with Wyoming ground squirrels, mule deer, elk, moose, yellow-bellied marmots, least chipmunks, pronghorn, wild turkeys, badgers, prairie dogs, coyotes, and mountain lions all calling the area home. Beavers are found in some of the creeks, where their dams and lodges form cover for a variety of aquatic insects, frogs, and fish. Golden and bald eagles can be seen soaring on the thermals alongside hawks, crows, ravens, turkey vultures, and numerous songbirds. Anglers find brook trout in the streams and ponds but over the past decade or so the populations of these fish have dropped noticeably.
The area surrounding Vedauwoo is quite popular with Wyoming residents, particularly from Cheyenne and Laramie, who enjoy picnicking in the recreation areas near the rocks. Although access to Vedauwoo is free to the public, a fee is required to use the parking and camping facilities. The roads are dirt and gravel, and motorists are advised to drive with caution.
Also of note is signage posted at the kiosk indicating that Vedauwoo was formerly used as a military testing ground, until 1961. The signage advises that unexploded "ordinances", if found, should be left alone and reported to authorities.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vedauwoo.|
- Wyoming's Vedauwoo website
- US Forest Service's Vedauwoo Campground website
- The Vedauwoo Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department Homepage