Flickr album link: Boulder Lake Recreation Area
Highway 191 is a major tourism corridor between Rock Springs, Wyoming and the two big national parks in the northwest end of this state. The majority of mainstream tourists driving this lengthy road are in such a hurry to get to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, that all points in between become nothing more than a blur streaming by the car window. Time is limited for these people, so booking a stay in motel room near the big parks is most often in the plans. Just like the old saying goes, haste makes waste and with a travel plan like this it is very easy to go way over budget. The reason why is the price of lodging is grossly inflated in this region during the peak summer season and a dive motel room will cost around $200 per night. Luxury motel options are even higher priced, so it is easy to see why Grand Teton and Yellowstone are both a once in a lifetime destination for many people.
Alternatively, travelers who have more time to spare and pack outdoor gear will find many opportunities to cut expenses when traveling on Highway 191 through the west end of Wyoming. In fact, many more worthwhile ventures can be experienced when opting to camp along the way, instead of booking lodging closer to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Some of the lesser known destinations along the Highway 191 corridor actually are prime time destinations in their own right, especially for those who wish to escape from the big crowds. Once such place that is often overlooked is the Boulder Lake Recreation Area, which is only a few miles east of the highway near Boulder, Wyoming.
The dirt roads to the BLM Boulder Lake Recreation Area are well maintained, so an average passenger car can get there, but a high ground clearance vehicle will provide a smoother ride. Boat trailer haulers will have no problem accessing the main launch site, while RV campers will be happy to know that dispersed camping is allowed throughout the rolling grassy hills. There is a developed campground on the north side of the lake and one by the boat launch, while primitive camping in existing spots along the shoreline is allowed too.
At the far end of this long lake near the base of the mountains is where the Bridger National Forest territory begins and this is where the rustic Boulder Campground is located. There is a staging area for hikers and horseback riders at this site and basic facilities are available. The Boulder Campground is located in a soggy part of the forest next to the lake and the roads can turn into deep mud after a rainstorm, so high ground clearance 4x4 vehicles are recommended in this area.
The summer season attractions at Boulder Lake include boating, swimming and world class fishing, so an old fashioned fish fry can be planned for a campfire meal. There are several more small lakes within hiking distance in the foothills, so be sure to pack the fly fishing gear when setting out on foot. The wildlife viewing is exceptionally good around this big lake, especially toward the deep wilderness in the east end. Of course this is big bear territory, so bear safe food storage is required and carrying bear spray is recommended on the trails.
Those who opt for a camping overnighter at Boulder Lake on the way to Grand Teton and Yellowstone will certainly fall in love with this cozy recreation area. For some people this lesser known spot may even become the primary destination, because there is so much to see and do. The town of Boulder is right next door, so stocking up for the adventure is easy too. The Boulder Lake Recreation Area is well worth placing high on the list, especially when seeking a budget minded place to bed down on the way to Grant Teton and Yellowstone!
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