One word comes to mind when you think of Wyoming: Yellowstone. This sparsely populated state is home to Yellowstone National Park one of the country’s most prized treasures and beautiful landscapes, but there’s a lot more to Wyoming than just Yellowstone.
Travel in Wyoming should first and foremost be about exploring the natural wonders and stunning views that are tucked into every corner of the state. From the legendary Yellowstone, to popular play spots like the Grand Tetons or Bighorn Canyon, Yellowstone has something for every type of outdoor adventurer, daredevil to casual hiker alike. Even if you don’t plan to work up a sweat on your visit to Wyoming you’ll be able to see some of nature’s most beautiful artwork at the states national parks and unique monuments. In addition to being a popular outdoor lover’s destination, Wyoming is also a state with a long and rich history so history buffs should plan a visit to one of the state’s many museums that explore its heritage from today back until prehistoric times.
Yellowstone National Park
To many, Yellowstone is the “granddaddy” of America’s National Parks. Regardless of your opinion of which park is the best, Yellowstone certainly has a place in the top few as one of the country’s largest and oldest parks. Yellowstone is most famous for its phenomenal geysers and its varied wildlife.
Yellowstone spans more than 3,000 square miles, covering lands that include lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountains. Yellowstone’s most notable landmark is Old Faithful, a geyser with eruptions that are so reliably on time and predictable, to earn its nickname. The park is home to a variety of wildlife but several populations including Grizzly bears, wolves, free-ranging bison, and elk are among the park’s most well-known. Throughout the year, outdoor recreational opportunities abound in Yellowstone from guided snow tours to summertime hiking, camping, boating, and sightseeing.
Grand Teton National Park
One of Wyoming’s other popular National Parks is only a fraction of the size of Yellowstone, at 310,000 acres, but it includes some of the country’s most impressive mountains, part of the 40-mile long Teton Range. The park is a hub of outdoor activities throughout the year and it attracts some of the world’s most extreme adventurists.
With well marked routes ascending daring cliffs and faces, Grand Teton has become a Mecca for mountaineering and rock climbing. For a more leisurely visit to the park visitors can enjoy camping and hiking, or during the winter months, snow sports at the world famous Jackson Hole Resort, tucked into the valley below the Tetons.
Fossil Butte National Monument
The land that makes up Fossil Butte dates to almost 56 million years ago, evidence of which can be seen today in the fossilized forms of ancient plants and animals. This national monument was created to protect this area which has preserved the fossils of fish, alligators, bats, small horses, turtles, insects, and several other species.
Visitors to the monument can enjoy hiking and exploring the visitor center or for a fascinating lesson in science and history, participate in a ranger-guided program.
Independence Rock State Historic Site
Independence Rock, located in Natrona County, Wyoming, has been famous since the days of the Oregon Trail for its memorable form jutting about 130 feet up into the air and stretching more than 1,900 feet long. The rock is made of granite, and how exactly nature shaped its rounded form is not known, but it is a popular topic of inquiry. Throughout history the rock has served as a landmark for emigrants on the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails and today it is one of the state’s most visited tourist attractions.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
In the middle of the 20th century the Bighorn River transformed into an enormous lake, which extends 55 miles through the bottom of Bighorn Canyon, thanks to the construction of the Yellowtail Dam. Today, this lake is a popular recreation area known for excellent fishing and its historical ranches.
Top Things to Do in Wyoming
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
This national historic site is on the land of a 19th century trading post and diplomatic site that played an important role in the economic and political spheres of the early frontier. Later in the century the trading post was converted into a U.S. military fort as a means of protecting passing emigrants on the Oregon Trail from attacks by neighboring Native American tribes. Today visitors to the fort can learn about its fascinating history and explore several of the restored buildings.
Buffalo Bill Historical Center
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center plays tribute to the legendary frontiersman William F. “Buffalo Bill Cody.” The museum is considered to the be the oldest and most comprehensive museum dedicated to chronicling the history of the American West and has received nationwide recognition, in addition to being part of the Smithsonian Affiliations program.
The historical center is composed of several museums about western subjects including Buffalo Bill, the Plains Indians, Western Art, firearms, and natural history. Visitors to the museum are able to view many authentic artifacts, reconstructions, and informational exhibits.
Devils Tower National Monument
One of Wyoming’s most dramatic landscapes is created by Devils Tower a rock formation that juts upward to a stunning 1,267 feet and oddly shaped like a tree stump. The monument is composed of sedimentary rocks and first began to form more than 200 million years ago. While most visitors go to this mammoth rock just for photographs and to gaze in wonder, daring athletes consider Devils Tower to be prime for climbing and every summer hundreds of climbers scale the sheer rock wall to reach the top on some of the most challenging routes in the world.
Hot Springs State Park
In the aptly named city of Thermopolis visitors can enjoy the soothing pools and pleasant views at this popular state park. Hot Springs State Park is home to state-run and private pools, inns, and other facilities. The park also has a herd of bison managed by the state, picnic shelters, gardens, and a boat ramp.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
The Flaming Gorge Nation Recreation Area surrounds the 91 mile long Flaming Gorge Reservoir, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular activities in the recreation area include camping, hiking, boating, and fishing. One section of the river is also a favorite spot for rafting.
Things to Do in Wyoming
Yellowstone is probably still at the top of your list, as it should be, but when planning a trip to this beautiful state don’t forget all that nature has given Wyoming. Crystal blue lakes, snowcapped mountains, rugged cliffs and green valleys are just a few of the places you can explore in Wyoming.