Vedauwoo (pronounced vee-da-voo) is one of my favorite quick getaways. It’s located west of Cheyenne and is part of the Medicine Bow – Routt National Forest’s more than two million acres of public lands. It was originally known to the Arapaho Indians as bito’o’wo , meaning earthborn. Vedauwoo is the anglicized name for it.
This spot is near the Sherman summit where erosion has worn away softer layers of rock and sediment that surrounded granite. This has left interesting formations of rocky hoodoos and outcroppings made up of 1.4 billion year old Sherman Granite. The granite is composed of erosion-resistant quartz crystals, orthoclase, plagioclase and mica. Just east of Vedauwoo are some sensational sandstone cliffs that were formed when ancient sand dunes of a broad desert met with the salty water of a shallow, epicontinental sea. It resulted in lovely layers of cross-stratification containing fossils of sea urchins, snails and sea lillies.
Vedauwoo is chock full of wildlife. It is home to mountain lions, coyotes, pronghorn, moose, mule deer and elk. Some of the smaller residents are Wyoming ground squirrels, wild turkeys, badgers, prairie dogs and yellow-bellied marmots. A multitude of songbirds and raptors inhabit the area as well. Gliding the thermals above Vedauwoo are bald eagles, Golden eagles, turkey vultures, crows and ravens. Beavers have built lodges and dams in the ponds and creeks creating habitats for frogs and fish.
This is a marvelous place for a day trip out of Cheyenne or Laramie for what I call a ” quick nature fix.” There are picnic and camping facilities and it is a popular spot for hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking. Since the nights are so dark it is also used for star-gazing parties.
That being said, I am now off to locate a nefarious character that I can accuse of being a yellow-bellied marmot. Sounds to me like that would make a great insult!