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The Rawlins Destination is located primarily in the southern part of Wyoming, though it also encompasses a smaller portion of northern Colorado. Sunbeam, Lay, Craig, and Hayden are some of the Colorado cities in the region. The Wyoming portion includes the cities of Sinclair, Bitter Creek, Baggs, Elk Mountain, Rock River, and Rawlins, the latter of which is the namesake of the destination. Rawlins was named after John A. Rawlins, who was a U.S. Army Chief of Staff General when it was founded in 1882.[8] Since being established, the town has grown to have a population of 8,413 people, as of 2023. This is a 2.09% increase since the last census in 2020.[2] The Wyoming Frontier Prison is one of the local attractions, offering visitors the opportunity to learn about the prison's history. About 13,500 inmates were housed at the prison during the 80 years that it was in operation.[3] The Medicine Bow-Routt National Park is a natural draw to the destination, located in both the Wyoming and Colorado portions of the region and expanding into other areas as well. In total, the forest comprises 2,222,313 acres of land, offering access to various recreation sites, ski resorts, and wilderness areas.[4][5] When visiting Rawlins, one of the best times of year to travel to the city for warm-weather activities is from the end of June to late August. Temperatures in the area typically range from 14°F to 83°F throughout the year, depending on the season.[7]

What Rawlins is known for

The Rawlins Destination encompasses land in both Wyoming and Colorado, with the former state constituting the larger part of the region geographically. Sunbeam, Lay, Craig, and Hayden are cities located in the Colorado portion of the region. Cities found in Wyoming include Walcott, Medicine Bow, Elk Mountain, Bairoil, Red Desert, and the namesake of the destination, Rawlins. Rawlins is situated in Carbon County, east of the Continental Divide. Notably, the city was initially named Rawlins Springs after John A. Rawlins, a U.S. Army Chief of Staff General. He became the area's namesake after requesting for "a freshwater spring there [to] bear his name." [1] 

As of 2023, Rawlins contains a population of 8,413 residents. Serving as the county seat of Carbon County, Rawlins has experienced a fairly modest growth rate of 0.69% annually, leading to a 2.09% increase in population since the last official census in 2020, when it recorded 8,241 inhabitants. Rawlins has a relatively diverse demographic makeup, with a racial composition comprising 84% White, 5.52% of other races, 5.11% two or more races, 2.46% Native American, 1.8% Black or African American, 1.11% Asian, and a small percentage of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander residents.[2]

The Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins offers an opportunity to see a part of the city's past, exhibiting the history of the frontier prison system. Operating for 80 years until its closure in 1981, the prison saw around 13,500 inmates pass through its gates. The tour takes you through the prison's dungeon, solitary confinement cells, and the "punishment pole." Additionally, the prison played a role in the state's economy, initially as a broom provider and later with an inmate shirt manufacturing program. Today, the restored prison stands as a museum, offering a glimpse into the region's history, and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.[3]

A natural attraction in the region is the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. In total, the national forest comprises 2,222,313 acres of land in both Wyoming and Colorado, with a relatively small portion being located in the destination. The part of the forest located in the region is mainly situated in Wyoming, with a fairly small part of the national park's acreage positioned in Colorado. Initially, the premises were three separate areas, namely Medicine Bow National Forest, Routt National Forest, and Thunder Basin National Grassland; however, they were combined in 1995 to be one entity.[4] The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest features "10 wilderness areas, over 1,000 developed recreation sites, two ski areas, [and] numerous lakes and trails." [5]


The Rawlins area, situated in west-central Carbon County, south-central Wyoming, encompasses approximately 634 square miles of diverse geography, comprising plains, valleys, and rugged uplifts. The exposed geological formations in the area range in age from Precambrian through recent times, with the older formations visible in the uplifted parts, particularly along the apex of the Rawlins uplift. These formations include the Cambrian rocks (undifferentiated), Madison limestone, Tensleep sandstone, Sundance Formation, Cloverly Formation, Frontier Formation, and Miocene and Pliocene rocks (undifferentiated), which contribute to the water supply for domestic and stock wells in the area. Additionally, the Browns Park formation supplies water to springs that serve as the primary source of Rawlins city water.[6]

Rawlins experiences a climate characterized by distinct seasons. Summers in Rawlins are typically warm, dry, and mostly clear, with the warm season lasting for approximately 3.1 months from late June to late August. During this period, the average daily high temperature rises above 73°F on average, reaching its peak in July at 83°F, making it the hottest month. Winters, on the other hand, involve freezing temperatures and snow, with the cold season spanning around 3.7 months from November to March. January is usually the coldest month, with an average low of 14°F and a high of 31°F. Throughout the year, temperatures in Rawlins typically range from a low of -3°F in the coldest months to a high of 90°F in the warmest months. For warm-weather activities, as indicated by the tourism score for the city, "the best time of year to visit Rawlins" is from late June to late August.[7]

A notable feature within the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is the Snowy Range, with Medicine Bow Peak rising to an impressive 12,013 feet and visible from Snowy Range Pass on Wyoming Highway 130. The forest encompasses various wilderness areas, including the Encampment River, Huston Park, Savage Run, and Platte River Wildernesses. Vedauwoo, a spot for rock climbing, is situated north of Interstate 80. This landscape spans multiple Wyoming counties, including Carbon, Albany, Converse, Natrona, and Platte. In addition, Routt National Forest, covering 1,125,438 acres in northwestern Colorado, is interconnected with Medicine Bow National Forest and offers various outdoor recreational opportunities, including the Steamboat Ski Resort.[4]


Founded in 1882 and named after Civil War veteran John A. Rawlins, the city of Rawlins has a history rooted in commerce and industry, particularly the extraction of natural resources. In the early 20th century, it was a city with a population of 4,200 people, as noted in the 1916 Complete Official Road Guide to the Lincoln Highway. The city was located along the transcontinental railroad, contributing to its significance as a hub for commerce. In 1901, the construction of the Wyoming State Penitentiary added to Rawlins' prominence, and the prison remains a notable landmark that is presently open for tours. The Lincoln Highway, which once passed through the center of Rawlins, played a role in the town's economy alongside ranching and natural resource industries. The Hugus/Ferguson Building, a structure on Rawlins' Lincoln Highway, has a storied history, serving as a general store, bank, Masonic Lodge, and various shops and offices over the years. While its future purpose is under consideration, it remains a part of Rawlins' downtown heritage, having undergone renovations in recent years.[8]

The history of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland is intertwined with both natural and human heritage. These lands, originally inhabited by Native American Tribes, have been stewarded by indigenous people for centuries. Among these tribes are the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Sioux, Chippewa-Cree, Crow, Kiowa, Shoshone, Ute, and Lakota, among others, who have maintained historical and spiritual connections to the land. The name "Medicine Bow" has origins linked to the custom of tribes assembling annually to craft bows from mountain mahogany found in the region, accompanied by ceremonial powwows aimed at curing diseases, making it known as a place of "good medicine." In 1902, Medicine Bow National Forest was established by President Theodore Roosevelt, while the Routt National Forest, named after Governor John N. Routt of Colorado, was proclaimed in 1905.[9]


Twin Pines RV Park & Campground occupies land in a rural area about eight miles south of Lander, Wyoming. Situated adjacent to Dry Lake and Highway 287, the park is also backed up against the Wind River mountains, according to the manager. The campground has 20 pull-through RV sites, each with full hookups and picnic tables. Ten primitive tent sites and two one-room cabins are also available to visitors. Additional park features include a lodge with bathrooms and showers, outdoor volleyball courts and horseshoe pits, and laundry facilities. Moreover, there is an on-site pond and pastures for livestock. Regarding nearby attractions, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are within driving distance of Twin Pines RV Park & Campground. Guests can also hike at the Wind River Mountains and visit Sinks Canyon State Park.

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