White Rock Canyon
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Highlights: A sandstone canyon sporting two tall rock pillars inscribed with glyphs from the cowboy era, a laughing stream and a lush growth of pines.
Location: Near Arlington on the north edge of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
Total Distance: One to two miles down and back.
Elevations: Rim, 8280’; Floor 8060’
Maps: USGS White Rock Canyon quad; Medicine Bow National Forest Map
Trailhead: Take I-80 west from Cheyenne about 90 miles, exiting at Arlington, exit 272. Turn under the interstate then go west along the south service road. At the third forest service road, FS 111, 1½ miles from Arlington, turn south. Continue on gravel FS 111 about three miles. Just after entering the forest take the right fork into a parking area. The canyon sign has been removed by vandals.
The hike: This is a little adventure more than a hike as there are no trails to follow. It’s better this way! From the rim you’ll spot two sandstone pillars across the creek. Your mission? Scramble off the canyon edge and cross the vale to find the spires. It looks easy until you discover how well hidden they are among the tall pines. After inspecting the inscriptions you’ll want to follow the creek downstream (East Fork of Wagonhound Creek) to the narrow canyon gates where there are more glyphs from turn of the century cowboys and travelers. The walls here are nearly 200 feet tall. While there try to figure out how this white sandstone came to exist in sight of the massive granite bulk of Elk Mountain. Return the way you came.
Pointers: Please don’t even think about defacing these old etchings or of adding your own. Even oil from your hands is damaging. This is one of few records left by these early arrivals, the ancestors of some familiar names in Laramie and Cheyenne today. We have many other ways of “making our mark” in the 21st century.