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Description

The Sand Lake Lodge is located on the north shore of Sand Lake in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

I’ve had a hard time pinning down the year the lodge was started. In the American Heritage Center at the University or Wyoming I was able to find a map from 1918 (note 1) with no structures depicted around Sand Lake and another map from 1929 (note 2) which has Sand Lake Lodge clearly marked. This gives us some idea when it might have been built but we have to remember that it might have been there prior to 1918 even if it wasn’t on that map.

As near as I can tell was in operation until the 1980s. There are about 15 old cabins scattered among the trees and the remains and foundations of a few others. Most of them are in reasonably good shape given their age and lack of maintenance.

A close look at some of the cabins will reveal that electricity was added to some of them. There is also some old furniture laying around and we came across an old truck frame and a wagon of some kind while we were there.

I can definitely imagine what it would have been like to spend a week or two up here during the summer. There are several hiking trails nearby. There is the lake and several creeks for fishing and while you aren’t right next to the major peaks of the Snowy Range you can find some incredible scenic views.

I have struggled so far to find very much written about this place. This strikes me as a little odd since it was open until fairly recently and seems like a fairly sizable resort in its own right.

Thanks to all of you who have left comments below we’ve started to piece together more information. Rebecca and I had the great fortune of meeting Marge, Dan, and Cris Galles at the Sand Lake Lodge in late September 2013. Marge and her husband Jerome used to own the lodge in the 1960s and Dan spent many summers there.

Marge helped tremendously with many details and some great stories. To fill out the history a little bit; the site was likely used as a tie camp originally and all the cabins date from that period except for the main lodge which was built when the site was repurposed for tourists. The main lodge no longer exists but the cement foundation is still there and you can see what it looked like from this picture below.

This image is on an envelope used by the Galles family when they operated the lodge in the 1960s. Marge Galles was kind enough to give us one of those envelopes.

This image is on an envelope used by the Galles family when they operated the lodge in the 1960s. Marge Galles was kind enough to give us one of those envelopes.

As this winter progresses I’ll be spending some time at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming (and a few other places) trying to learn more so we can put up a more complete history.

The Sand Lake Lodge is an interesting historic spot. You can really make a day out of visiting the entire area from hiking the trails to fishing and general exploring. Of course if you do visit be sure to take only pictures and leave only footprints.

To get here drive about 4 miles west of Centennial on Wyoming Highway 130. Turn right on Sand Lake Road and follow it for 15 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 140 which is immediately past the large parking are for the Sheep Lake and Rock Creek Trails. Follow Forest Road 140 for 1/2 of a mile until it ends at a gate. Beyond this gate is the Sand Lake Lodge.

You can find even more pictures in our Sand Lake Lodge Flickr photo set. We would love to add more pictures if you have them and are willing to share them. We’ll only use them in a way that you approve.

Guides

If you are looking for a guide to get you to the Sand Lake Lodge:

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User Comments

  1. CELESTE M MARSH |

    I was best friends with Katy Galles, daughter of the owners in Casper where I was born and went to school until 13. Katy died of leukemia in 2nd grade. Our family loved to go to Sand Lake Lodge and I have very fond memories of my times there with Katy and their family. We moved to Colorado when I was 13. Some 20 years later I took a friend for a horse trip into the area for 2 nights in late September. Too many hunters with guns. Most of the place was in shambles by then but I did obtain a brochure and letter at some point (1987 or so). I still have them is someone wants them for archival purposes. I had hoped someone would pump some life back into it. Of course, that takes a lot of $$ with a limited vacation window. Great memories.

    • Hello Celeste. Thank you for sharing some of your memories. I think a lot of us wonder what it would look like today if someone had been able to keep it going. I’ll reach out to you directly through email to talk to you about the brochure and letter. We have started a bit of a collection. Mostly because there doesn’t seem to be one anywhere else.

  2. Vicki Cheatham |

    Hello!
    I am the daughter of the second commercial owner of Sand Lake Lodge. My parents bought the four original cabins in 1939 then built the first lodge building and six more cabins in the1940s and finished the two story second lodge building and five more cabins in 1954. The lodge was sold several times and was returned as many times for troubles each new owner encountered. Located in the heart of the Snowy Range, 60 miles from Laramie and at 10,144 ft. elevation, the Lodge had many challenges, especially during the winter season. Many of the adults that responded to you were sharing childhood recollections and may not realize what their parents had to do to keep the Lodge solvent. I am so glad, however, they retain the good and happy memories!! I have as well, but after our father passed away and our mother had health problems, as an adult I also got in on the management of Sand Lake Lodge with my brother. I have a wealth of information, including history, pictures and documentation. I was 6 months old when I was first taken to the Lodge. It was very much a part of me growing up and remains so today. I considered the Lodge and the surrounding area my home and very dear to me weather or not I was living on site. I would love to visit with you and answer any questions you have about the area and the life-style. Thank you for your interest in Sand Lake Lodge

    • Hello Vicki. Thank you for reaching out to us! We would love to include your experiences and I will contact you directly to arrange a visit.

  3. Harvey |

    I came up their 2 summers and one winter. My stepdad and my mom managed it then. Think I was around 16 maybe, I built screen doors for the cabins. And took guests on trail rides on horses. And in boats on the lake fishing. I remember one guy from Illinois his name was George Mallow he really enjoyed the fishing. He was a lense grinder for Bell- Howel. My mom cooked for everyone. Remember going out a lot with my step dad to get the old one lung generator running again. Their names were Nels and Carolyn Lorenson. Iam 60 now don’t seem that long ago.

    • Thank you for sharing some of your memories. We enjoy hearing from anyone with a connection to Sand Lake Lodge.

  4. Grace Gerrard |

    My father stayed in the cabins with friends from Nebraska in the 1920’s. I have pictures that he took there that I would love to share with you.

    • Al Walsh |

      Thank you very much! We would love to see them and share them on the website. I’ll contact you directly via email.

  5. Chilly |

    I worked as an archeologist for the Saratoga Forest Service office 2010-2012 and surveyed the old lodge site. About that time there was talk of demolishing the buildings over safety concerns. The area around Sand Lake has some of the oldest prehistoric artifacts found in the Rocky Mountains dating back to 9500 years. Any heavy equipment used to tear down the old structures could potentially destroy underlying prehistoric sites. Interesting side note: According to the Big foot Field Research Organization there was a recorded siting of a suspected juvenile sasquatch in the area back in the late 80’s. I dont know about squatch hunting, but I know there are alot of elk. Happy hunting.

    • Al Walsh |

      Chilly, I would love to pick your brain sometime. Given that elk and other big game have been attracted to certain places for centuries, I can imagine that a long line of hunters spent some time at Sand Lake. Even sasquatch hunters.

      • Les Lee |

        I spent many elk seasons at te lodge, my parents wedded outfitters and we knew the owners of the lodge very well. We were like family. I’d have to say we spent 10-15 seasons up there. I can actually remember having to enter the lodge through the in per level due to the amount of snow up there. And the trophy mounts inside the lodge were amazing to. We should have probably 15 years worth of pictures.

        • Al Walsh |

          Thank you for sharing that Les. I can imagine you have many great stories from all those years. What time frame was that anyway? If you would like to share some pictures from your time at the lodge we are always interested in them. Send us a message through the contact us page if you want. And if not, thank you for sharing some of your memories.

  6. Ron Kline |

    I worked for the Forest Service in the summer of 1979, and I used to backpack to Sand Lake every once in a while. I would always stop in for coffee and to say hi. I don’t know who was running it then, but the lady of the house always referred to me as “that hardy soul.” Anyway, one fairly dry December in 1980, I got my VW Beetle stuck on Sand Lake Road (not too smart college student), and I walked to the Lodge where they put me up and fed me for the night. The next day, the whole family (I remember kids) and I loaded into their snowcat and headed down the road to free my car. They got me out and turned around, and I made it safely back to Laramie. Good memories. Just yesterday (7/26/14) my wife and I stopped by Sand Lake while doing a Snowy Range driveabout (we live in Laramie), and I was sad to see that the big lodge was gone. Memories are funny things, as I half expected to stop in and say hi…

    • Paul Preble |

      Well Ron Kline it sounds like you met the Preble and Schlichting clan who ran the lodge from late 1978 to 1984. I was one of the 2 boys of the batch of 7 kids you probably saw. Unfortunately a couple bad storms putting business behind plus the push for the lodge to be upgraded in a unreasonable time frame forced us into bankruptcy resulting in the parent selling the property off. I heard of the petition to try and save it around 2005 but I refused to sign it as I believed the lodge was unredeemable at that point. I might be able to dig up some pictures I know for sure there is one of both families all together in the dining room.

      • Ron Kline |

        Thanks for responding Paul Preble. I always had a great deal of respect and love for the Preble and Schlichting clan; they were always good to me as I wandered in and out of their life at the Lodge. Although it’s really too bad, I’m glad to know what happened to one of my favorite places. I’m an English teacher, and I was in the area until the bust of ’85-86; I was RIFed in Carbon County in ’86 and the only job I cold find was in SE Alaska. My family and I stayed there for five years, and the as the Wyoming economy came back, so did we. We worked our way back through Worland, Gillette, and finally to Laramie. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get home. All the best to you and your family.

  7. Wyoming Native |

    Have spent the last 39 years going to this place at least three times a year. Very sad to see the Lodge destroyed. Glad there are some cabins still left standing. Great trails, we take the one from Brooklyn Lake to Sand Lake, about 8 miles. Be sure to go in late August to avoid all of the run off. The trail is not marked well so be careful, beautiful hike. Once you go the first mile or so you rarely see anyone else.

    • I believe you’re referring to the Sheep Lake trail, it’s one of our favorites too. And you’re certainly right about having it all to yourself.

  8. Nancy White-Ewen |

    my family moved to Wyoming in 1968. and we lived on 30, 8 miles north of Rock River. Fred and Olive Long were the previous owners and it was a gas station and small store. We also had a camp area for a short time. The couple that lived in the long cabin on our property were Brownings, I don’t know if they are of the same
    family that is mentioned in another post. The longs owned and ran the hotel in Rock River, they also owned property across the road from the hotel. Fred and Olive Long and Ott Long also lived with them. I just don’t have exact dates when grandma and grandpa long worked at Sand Lake, but their granddaughter Wendy said they were there about 12 years.

  9. Nancy White-Ewen |

    Fred and Olive Long also worked there. in the late 60’s to early 70’s, they took people on fishing trips, I seen the pictures and I think I have some of those pictures so me where. I had been in the main lodge and yes it was awesome. I believe the buildings where taken down because of trespasser’s who couldn’t stay out and destroyed the inside. For me the SandLake Lodge has beautiful memories.

    My dad enjoyed fishing for Trout in Sand Lake. If you would like to see some pictures let me know I will find them.

    I would always visit Medicine Bow National Forest in this area before ever going to Yellowstone.

    • Hey Nancy, thank you for sharing. We are always interested in pictures, the older the better.

      • Nancy White-Ewen |

        After talking to Wendy we have come up with more people for pictures and stories. We have
        Old slides that have pictures of the inside of the main lodge. We are wanting to help with any information and pictures with stories too.

  10. Rebekah B |

    My grandfather and grandmother. Ernie and Ruth Browning, worked at Sand Lake Lodge – he as a guide and she helped in the kitchen and housekeeping. Just found an old poster and brought back great memories of them. They loved it there.

    • Al Walsh |

      Do you remember when your grandparents worked at Sand Lake Lodge? I’m sure they had many great stories from their time there.

  11. Tom Adams |

    My family from Iowa and I camped at Libby Creek nearby and rode horses around Sand Lake in the early sixties. Later I worked for US Forest Service out of Bow River District barracks and remember the weekend before the 4th of July 1967 when a 10 foot drift of snow had to be moved out of the road to allow Sand Lake Lodge to be open for a group. I loved that place. That same summer two of us used horses from the lodge to pack in camping gear to a tree planting crew that included a young man named Jerry Galles. We rode those horses on the trail out after setting up the camp. Nothing quite like riding atop a pack saddle on a three foot wide rocky trail cut through an old rockslide on the mountain. A year or so later I was a student at Univ of Wyoming in International Studies (Econ). I haven’t been back to Wyoming since 1984 when I skiied at Medicine Bow Ski Area. A Wyoming trip long overdue.

    • Al Walsh |

      I’ll say a trip to Wyoming is way overdue for you. I know they type of trail you’re talking about and that would be a hair raising experience. I bet you have a few more stories like that too.

  12. tony |

    I remember going to the hill with snowmobiles, we had to go up the side then down the front,some of the snowmobiles couldn’t make it up because they were too heavy and slow. i made it up and when i came down i think i was going too fast and i hit something and it threw me off. luckily i had on a helmet! Not sure how high the hill was but it sure seemed like a long way up when you are only 14 and from flat ground in Iowa.

  13. S.W. StillinWyoming |

    My family owned and operated the Sand Lake Lodge for a couple of years in the late ’70s. It was a fabulous place for a 4th grader to spend summers! Winter was COLD!

    • Rebecca |

      Wow! Did you spend the winters up there?

      • S.W. StillinWyoming |

        Rebecca,

        Yes we did! The only access was by snowmobile or snow-cat. I can still remember when we’d take the snow-cat, my dad would keep telling us to remember to wiggle our toes so they wouldn’t get too cold!!

    • Al Walsh |

      We’d love to hear some of your stories. Did you know the Galles family?

      • S.W. StillinWyoming |

        Al,

        I didn’t know the Galles family… but I was a kid and focused on fun rather than names. 🙂 I do know we had a couple of fun groups of die-hard snowmobilers that came up each winter we were there. I also know there was a sheepherder the kids loved to go visit in the spring!

        My family had a section added on to the lodge to accommodate our family and the partner family. The kids’ teacher basically taught one-room style (only he had to also live with his students)… two kindergarteners, a second grader, two fourth graders, and a sixth grader. We had THE best physical education time… cross-country skiing around the lake, sledding on Windy Hill…. and when the weather was too cold, we did yoga in the halls!

      • S.W. StillinWyoming |

        Al,

        Looking at the picture the Galles family gave you (on an envelope)… that picture looks very familiar! I will ask my mom if that may be who they purchased the Lodge from.

  14. Kelli |

    My family and I drove in an old 1958 restored hearse and from 1966 to 1978 spent two glorious weeks each summer camping at Sand Lake. Our family had little money so the five of us camped in the camp grounds 1/4 mile down the road and shared a small tent. My father, a former Eagle Scout and boys out leader made the best of “roughing it”. It seemed every July we would get some snow, daily afternoon showers, frost at night and of course daily visits from black bear. At night we all slept with pots and spoons next to our sleeping bag and would beat them wildly when we heard the bears enter our campsite. One year, while at the lake fishing a bear tore up our tent and are most of the food stored in the locked trunk sitting on the picnic table. That night we all got to sleep in the lodge in a beautiful pine bed and feasted in a wonderful hot breakfast.
    I recall when I was ten years old the sheep herder allowed me to ride his horse, and then gavel parents some cash to take a horseback ride on one of the lodges horses out on the trail. The horses name was Sailorboy and my little sister rode Pumpkin. That was in 1970. I still have that photo framed on my desk.
    The memories prevail and I think so often how my days at Sand Lake provided me skills to learn fly fishing, cleaning fish, identifying scat on the trails, learning bird calls, learning how to operate a bow and arrow and become a skilled marksman with my 20 gauge Winchester.
    My aging father, riddled with dementia sadly now resides in a nursing home in Manhattan, Kansas. On his wall and his bed stand, are black and white photos of him once holding a stringer full of beautif rainbow trout, his children and he perched underneath a towering pine, and paddling in a canoe across Sand Lake.

    • Rebecca |

      Hi Kelli, What wonderful memories! So thankful that you shared them with us, it sounds like Sand Lake was really a magical place for many people. We lived in Manhattan KS for 5 years so the Wyoming/Kansas connection made me smile.

  15. Kathy M |

    My husband and I spent a few night there in 1984 or 1985. It was up and running then and we had a wonderful time. Too bad it’s not in operation any longer.

  16. Tony P. |

    that name sounds right, all around the lake were tall pine trees and a very steep bank, the guide said nobody had ever been down to it, sure made the story sound good!

    • Al Walsh |

      Well I don’t know about 1969, but there is a trail down to Crater Lake now and it is one of the steepest in the Snowy Range. But even today I wouldn’t try it in the winter.

  17. Tony P. |

    A bunch of us from Iowa went to Sand Lake Lodge in the winter to snowmobile, it was 1969, we had to park our cars off the interstate they called the relay station, then we drove the snowmobiles up to the lodge. There was 10 of us, we stayed upstairs, only wood was the heat, no phones, they had a two way radio for communication. I was a freshman in high school, so this was a big deal for me, my folks and other couples went there. they had a guide to take us snowmobiling for the day, the first morning it was 30 below 0! I remember the lady who run it, she has a German or similar accent, hard working lady, her husband was a talker, but didn’t work too hard! We saw a lake on one of our trips the guide said that nobody had been to the lake cause the perimeter of the lake was really steep, you could not get to it, just see it. My mom and dad and I went back there the next summer on my birthday on August 15th , there was still snow on the ground in the trees. The funny part of our winter trip was when we went back to the relay station to our cars, somebody stole a battery out of one of the cars! It was a very beautiful place winter and summer.

    • That sounds like a fun, if very cold, winter trip. It’s also the first I’ve heard of the lodge being open in the winter. I wonder if the lake you visited was Crater Lake. It’s close and would fit that description.

    • S.W. StillinWyoming |

      Tony P.,

      Even when my family had it in the late 70’s, winter visitors parked off the interstate at the relay station and took snowmobiles or the snow-cat to the lodge. The only communicate out was the two-way radio and the only heat was wood/coal stoves. At Sand Lake Lodge, however, the lake was just beyond the lodge and was accessible… as kids we would play along the shore (it was rocky, not sandy, though). In the winter, snowmobilers would ride across the lake to short-cut to Windy Hill, which was a steep hill they’d compete to climb or they’d take kids over to sled down. I agree that it was a beautiful place…. both summer and winter!

  18. Paul S. |

    I explored the area about 10-15 years ago. There was a set of snow shoes above the fireplace, which I was tempted to liberate, but honesty won out. The next visit all that was left was the slab. My family built cabins near Centennial in the 1920’s, so we have enjoyed the Snowy Range for a long time! I took my nephew to Sand Lake today, and showed him the cabins and lake.

  19. Suzie |

    Thanks for the write-up, Dan. Micky sent me an email; I just asked her some things about it. We came and spent some time there, but I can’t remember if it were more than once. Can you? My memories are good. We were just excited to visit our friends who would be gone for the summers. I do remember your mom and grandma in the kitchen.

    Suzie

    • Dan |

      That’s cool that Micky sent you this info, Suzie! Yep I remember your Family coming up on occasion (I think you came up a few times but not a lot). Your Dad came up and worked on the generator and helped us a bunch on electrical problems around there several times. He was a huge help to us! It was a neat place to spend the summers, however, we missed out on a lot of other “kid” activities (like baseball, swimming, etc) But what a cool place to spend several summers……love those mountains!

  20. Dan G. |

    Our Family owned and operated the Sand Lake Lodge back in the early to late 60’s. We spent the summers up there trying to “make a go of it” by renting out rooms in the lodge (yes there was a huge, beautiful 2 story lodge with dining room, kitchen with wood stoves and 8-10 rooms in the upper story), rented out the cabins you’ve shown (in the cool pictures included in your write-up!), rented out small boats/motors for fishing and/or sightseeing, and finally, we had horses to rent out for riding in the area. My Mom and Grandma did the cooking for the guests and it was a lot of hard work for those ladies! This place was a really awesome place to spend the summers, but required a huge amount of work to keep it going! The whole Family had to put in a big effort to keep everything running and operating smoothly….a lot of bumps in the road along the way, but many interesting stories have been created from all our adventures! We always told my Mom she should have written a book!
    Side notes: my Mom, wife and myself visited up there a couple years ago (about 2011) and also about 2009 timeframe; the lodge had been torn down, just a slab of cement left! Prior to that, in about 1994-97, the lodge had been condemned by the government and there were signs posted for “No Trespassing” and huge fines could be imposed for same. The lodge was still intact then but looked to be in huge dis-repair! A shame it had to be torn down, a lot of historic significance there! Also, one of the comments made below about electricity had been run to the cabins……we had an old diesel generator (it was an old one-cylinder machine, but it was quite reliable most of the time). So yes, the lodge and cabins were electrified, somewhat of a crude electrical system but it worked and provided us with lights and many other modern conveniences……

    • Wow Dan, thanks for sharing that. I wish your mom would have written a book, that would have been something to read. It’s too bad that your family couldn’t make it work and I agree its a shame to lose a historic building like that. I bet you have a ton of great memories. Thanks again for leaving a comment.

  21. Sheila |

    Thanks for the information you have. My children and I found it while staying at Deep Creek Campground. We enjoyed checking out the cabins and the old brass bed. The marmets were fun to watch too. I would love to know more about it. It was a pretty big place.

    • What a great place to camp! I’m glad to hear you had a good time.

  22. SadiesLady23 |

    My best friend and I just stumbled across this little gem of a place. It absolutely blew our minds. We spent some time exploring each of the cabins and the area around them. Such a historical place, with a ton of fascinating sites. We were surprised to not find much information on the cabins. Have you found out anything else. I am SUPER curious! Thanks. 🙂

    • I had the same reaction when I stumbled across it, there’s just so much to see and you’re right about there being little written about it! I haven’t found out anything more yet. It’s pretty close to the top of my ever increasing list of places to research though. I’ll update the page when I do learn more and hopefully I can dig up some historic pictures too.

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