By Blaine Howerton
Centennial, Wyoming in the Medicine Bow Mountains is a place where the number of snowmobiles in the winter might at times exceed the town’s population. It’s a quaint small town with five restaurants and a handful of small hotels. The population on the town sign reads 270. The town relies on visitors coming there for winter and summer recreation.
Centennial’s history goes back about 150 years when the railroad first set up a lumber camp. The railroad used the timber to help build the transcontinental railroad.
Through the years, ranchers returned. Eventually, two miners discovered gold on what would become Centennial Ridge in 1875. The town was established in 1876 and named to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence.
The Mountain View Historic Hotel, built in 1907, is a wonderful place to stay. It was the 2nd original building in Centennial. The hotel was built by Isaac Van Horn and Fred Miller, owners of the Laramie Hahns Peak & Pacific Railroad.
Owners Mike and Kathleen bought the building 6 years ago. They have made it their labor of love, remodeling much of it while turning it into a family destination. Mountain View’s 4 suites make up 6 rooms – complete with flat screen tvs and all of the amenities of a modern hotel. They roast coffee and fix breakfast for their guests.
“Kathleen found this hotel. She saw it was for sale and we jumped on it,” said Mike. “We wanted a complete culture change, and this was it.”
The couple moved to Centennial from South Dakota. “What enticed us was that we were going to be in the mountains. It had a built in revenue stream and I felt we could make better,” said Mike. The improvements make staying in this historic building pleasurable and fun. Historic photos and scenery of the area are peppered throughout the rooms and common areas.
Mike’s food is wonderful. He creates seasonal menus for the hotel’s guests. His dishes are unique with local flavor – you won’t find them at any other local restaurant.
“I went to culinary school, but I refuse to call myself a chef because I do dishes,” said Mike.
Centennial is only about 30 miles from Laramie and 10 minutes from Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area. It’s a great destination for families who want good skiing on a budget. There is no traffic, waits at lift lines are nominal and you can’t beat the lift ticket prices. There are 33 runs (a mix of green, blue and black) serviced by 5 lifts. On site rentals and a ski school are just part of an experience that may remind seasoned skiers of skiing before it became the commercial giant it is today.
The history in the area makes a stay in Centennial a great educational experience for the family too. In Laramie, other historic buildings such as the Wyoming State Territorial Prison, the Laramie Plains Museum and the St. Matthew’s Episcopical Cathedral make a weekend stay in Centennial well worth the short trip from Northern Colorado.
Things to do in Laramie: