Outside University: 15. University of Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming

2011 Wyoming Mountains Vacation

University of Wyoming.     Photo: Jeffgunn/Flickr

UW might be in Wyoming but it’s closer to Denver than it is to the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone. Still, Roosevelt National Forest and Banforth National Wildlife Refuge are, respectively, 80 and 10 miles away. These federal lands let the school’s forestry program offer classes in recreation, park administration, and interpretation. The botany department gives a course in edible mushrooms, and in zoology, students help manage a fishery.

The rec program offers non-credit lessons (rock climbing, fly fishing, mountaineering, whitewater kayaking, cross-country skiing, avalanche safety, and bike maintenance among them) and maintains an agreement with the National Outdoor Leadership School for crossover classes, which means that Wyo students can go abroad to study adventure topics for credit; a backpacking course in Australia is a popular option.

There are also domestic trips and wilderness-leadership programs, which take participants on more than 40 multi-day trips into the backcountry all year round. Once a month, a free Friday-night bouldering trip happens, and there’s often the chance to head to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

Incoming freshmen can choose from six outdoors trips (backpacking, caving, mountain biking, rock climbing, canoeing, or a wilderness service project; all about $175) to meet new friends and bond with classmates. More seasoned collegians can get a certification (Wilderness First Responder or scuba), borrow (or fix) wheels at the bike library, or rent from a decent menu of gear, ranging from $2 for a bear canister to $38 for a canoe.

The Cowboys have left a legacy in a few places: the men’s and women’s Nordic skiing teams have storied programs, together having won nine national titles over the last 10 years. And legendary free-climber Todd Skinner was an alum—his almost 500 first ascents included two in Yosemite—El Cap’s Salathe Wall and Half Dome’s northwest direct route—before he died there during a rappel.

CONTACT: (307) 766-1121, uwyo.edu
STUDENT BODY: 10,079 undergraduates, 2,832 graduates
TUITION: residents $9,084, nonresidents $13,428, room and board $4,278

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