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Laramie, What is it Really Like?

August 6, 2018

snowy mountain range with alpine lake in the forefrontWritten by: Alan Buss, Associate Professor of Elementary & Early Childhood Education.

“You live in Laramie? I’ve been through there. Got stuck there once in the winter.”

“Laramie? You live in Laramie? Why?”

“Hey Alan, when are you going to move away from Laramie and live somewhere nice?”

Everywhere has pleasant and unpleasant living conditions, depending on one’s outlook. For instance, there are days I love the weather in Laramie, and days that I don’t. Fortunately, the good days outnumber the not-so-good days. As you consider coming to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming, here is a bit more info to let you know more about life on the high plains.

At 7220 ft above sea level and nestled between two mountain ranges to the east and west, Laramie has its share of wind, cold, and more wind. On the flip side, it has low humidity, cool summer nights, over 300 days of sunshine per year, access to mountains, streams, and lakes. Most importantly, is filled with great community members. After 23 years of being a Laramie resident I can honestly say that I don’t want to live anywhere else.

Seasons and Weather
Aspen tree with yellow leaves in the FallLaramie experiences all four seasons, but not in equal measures. The higher elevation of the Laramie plains keeps things cooler than the surrounding areas. This can be great in the summer, as temps average 80 °F, reaching occasionally into the high 80’s low 90’s, but cooling down to the low 50’s or upper 40’s at night. The cooler temperatures, combined with lower humidity, make for pleasant days. The day this blog was written (beginning of July) had a high of 91°F/33° C and a low of 52° F/11° C, with 24% humidity.

Spring and Fall are a bit more unpredictable weather-wise, with wider fluctuations of temps and precipitation. One day might be sunny and beautiful, with the next bringing snow. Speaking of snow, Laramie doesn’t get that much during the winter. Spring and Fall snows are usually wet, but melt quickly. Winter snows are drier, more like powder, but stick around longer.

Just as with the summer, winter temperatures are colder than the surrounding areas. The high temperatures in January average 32° F/0° C, with lows of 10° F/-12°C. The humidity stays low, making it easier to stay warm.

The mountains and plains provide one more element to Laramie’s weather – wind. The mountains cool the air, which then sinks, and the plains heat the air, which makes it rise. The cool air rushes in to take the place of the rising air, producing wind. Let’s just say that Laramie is in the middle of an effective wind machine. The National Weather Service data states that the average wind speed is 12 mph. Some days it blows harder, and other days, not at all.

If you love the outdoors, Laramie has many opportunities for you. There are state and national forests within 30 minutes by car to the east and west. This means camping, picnicking, fishing, hiking, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, or good old Sunday afternoon drives. The Snowy Range lies to the west of town, with Medicine Bow Peak reaching just over 12,000 ft/ 3661 m. If you want taller mountains, the Colorado Rockies are within a 2 hour driving distance. To the east of Laramie sits the Laramie Range, which has more modest peaks, the tallest of which is Laramie Peak (10,274’/3132m). One of the more interesting features is a rock outcrop known as Vedauwoo (pronounced vee-da-voo). The drive of about 20 minutes from Laramie gives you access to rock climbing, camping and picnic areas, and miles and miles of trails, which are accessible year-round. If you are lucky, you will see beavers, elk, pronghorn, and moose, along with an assortment of birds and mountain rodents.

spring wildflowers with two butterfliesCommunity
The community of Laramie is the best part of living here. There are problems, as with any community, but in general I’ve found the people here to be friendly and welcoming. My children have had great teachers from kindergarten through graduation. They’ve had opportunities to participate in school and community music, theater and service groups with kind and caring leaders. The community also provides services to the hungry, homeless, and destitute through collaborations between civic and religious organizations. The University of Wyoming and Laramie City Council strive to work together to meet needs of students and more permanent residents. I’ve had opportunities to serve in multiple capacities in the community and have thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with other Laramie-ites.

So, as you consider your options for graduate school, don’t overlook Laramie. It is a great place to learn, live, and grow.

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