The state of Wyoming is rich in natural wonders and Old West history. With mountain peaks, wild rivers, and wide open plains, Wyoming draws visitors from around the world to experience its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation. The history of the West, from its old trails and cowboys to the development of the railroads and mining, is featured everywhere in the state's historical sites, museums and visitor centers, and preserved downtown districts.
Here are my picks for the top 10 Wyoming attractions:
West Thumb Geyser Basin and Lake Yellowstone
The word "wonderland" is often used to describe Yellowstone National Park. There is plenty to see and do within Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres, including the Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, West Thumb Geyser Basin, and Lamar Valley. Abundant wildlife, fascinating visitor centers, and historic lodgings combine with these incredible and unique natural wonders to make Yellowstone Park not only the top place to visit in Wyoming, but among the top in the entire US.
Wildflower Meadow in Grand Teton National Park (NPS)
Grand Teton National Park is home to postcard-perfect scenery that includes rugged peaks, rushing rivers, serene lakes, and wildflower-filled meadows. Park wildlife ranges from the large bison, elk, and bear to the small pika and marmots. The national park, the nearby Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the resort area around Jackson, combine into one vast outdoor playground that has something to offer in every season. Whitewater rafting, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, lake cruises, snowshoeing, and skiing are just some of the possibilities.
Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody Wyoming
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a complex of five awesome museums, each worth a visit on its own. Combine the five and you have a museum visit that you'll remember for the rest of your life.
- Buffalo Bill Museum - experience a slice of America through artifacts from the life of Buffalo Bill Cody
- Cody Firearms Museum - marvel at the ingenuity revealed in this huge collection of firearms from around the world
- Draper Museum of Natural History - learn about Wyoming wildlife and geology
- Plains Indian Museum - gain appreciation for Plains Indian culture through exhibits and a multimedia show
- Whitney Gallery of Western Art - a world-class collection of Western art, with works by Charles Russell, Frederic Remington, and WHD Koerner.
There's a lot to learn at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper, Wyoming. During your visit you'll wind your way through galleries featuring Wyoming's first people, mountain men and fur trappers, the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the California Trail, and the Pony Express route. All this history comes alive in the center's multimedia presentation, living history demonstrations, guided hike, and special events.
Held annually since 1919, the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is known as the "Daddy of 'em All" for both the quality and the quantity of its rodeo action. The late-July festivities include 10 days of rodeo and much more, including major concerts, a carnival, parades, the Indian Village, and a Western Art Show. If you make it to Cheyenne at other time of the year, you can get a taste of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo experience by visiting the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.
Fort Laramie began as a fur trading post in 1834 and went on to serve folks migrating west via the Oregon and California Trails. The Fort Laramie National Historic Site includes a number of restored historic buildings, which you can check out on a walking tour. While there, stop first at the visitor center and enjoy an 18-minute fort history video, the bookstore, and museum exhibits that include uniforms, weapons, and artifacts from Fort Laramie's colorful history.
Wyoming's most popular state park, Hot Springs State Park is visited all year round. Site of the world's largest single mineral hot spring, the area draws not only humans but wildlife and is home to Wyoming's central bison herd. Visitors can enjoy a soak in the 104-degree mineral waters indoors at the State Bath House, or in two outdoor pools. Trails wind through the park, allowing you to take in the interesting rock formations formed by the mineral waters as well as the park's famous flower garden.
Located a bit off the beaten track in northeast Wyoming, this stately rock formation was made famous in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Tower Trail, a 1.3-mile paved trail, circles the tower and can be enjoyed on your own or when guided by a park ranger. While there, be sure to spend some time in the visitor center, where you can learn about the natural and human history of Devils Tower and its surrounds.
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area extends from Green River, Wyoming, south and into Utah. The region's colorful canyons and the lengthy Flaming Gorge Reservoir are popular with outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Opportunities for water recreation are abundant, with boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking all popular. Roads and trails are available for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.
This 20-mile loop takes you on a trip through history, following in the path of those who traveled cross country via the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, the Pony Express rides, the transcontinental railroad, and the Lincoln Highway. Stops along the way include the Fort Bridger State Historic Site, which offers a museum and a great walking tour around the old fort site, including some restored historic buildings.