Wyoming is a true gem. It’s everything you expect to find in the entire U.S in one state – or that’s how I have best thought to summarize it. Looking for beautiful mountains? Explore the Grand Tetons. Want to check off one of the most explored National Parks in America? It’s home of Yellowstone National Park. Hoping to see a true cowboy herding his cattle on horseback? Yup, they’ve got that too – and they’re wearing cowboy hats! Are hiking and natural hot springs on the top of your list? Well, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re never going to want to leave.
During our 10-days spent road tripping around Wyoming, we experienced all of this and more. Here are just a few places you’ll want to research before you plan your next trip.
This was the first stop we made in the ten largest state (and the least populated) and I’m so glad it was. Living in one of the busiest ski resort towns in North America, I love exploring other established ski destinations. Not only are you guaranteed to find mountains, but the variety of world-class restaurants to hole-in-the-wall cafes steal my heart. Time in Jackson Hole can easily be passed by nearby hiking trails (or mountain biking, if that’s your thing), rides up the gondola to resort lookouts or simply by wandering the cute shops in downtown. Whatever you do, don’t leave without stopping at the town square and admiring the handy work of the elk antler archways. They really are impressive in any light, and make for a great souvenir photo.
If there’s only one thing you know about me, it’s probably that I love the mountains (and dogs, but who’s keeping track!). The Grand Tetons are a whole other level of beauty. And that’s coming from a girl who lives in beautiful British Columbia.
They are dark, twisted and scary while at the same time inviting and would make any hiker giddy with endless possibilities. There are pristine lakes accessible via a short walk from the car park and even as you drive North on Teton Park Road is a journey of its own. There are plenty of camping options along the way, or if you’re like us – the views from The Observatory are incredible.
Yellowstone National Park
Notably one of the most famous National Parks, upon arriving its not hard to see why. The one thing I will say is this park is full of surprises and variety. When you enter the south entrance you’ll see luscious forests, and several lakes as you eventually meet up with the most photographed geysers. For us, we were even lucky to see a Grizzly Bear from the side of the road – and I will only say one thing. Please stay in your car. The amount of people I saw exiting their vehicles and approaching this bear was downright terrifying. I know they look fuzzy, but they are unpredictable and not at all like Winnie the Pooh.
A suggestion I would make to everyone visiting is; get up early. This is a great way to avoid large crowds at the popular hotspots, like the Midway Basin. There are also quite a number of amazing picnic sites, and not a lot of restaurants available so if you do one thing, pack a lunch.
To me, the towns that provide services to park goers are worth your time as well. West Yellowstone has plenty of gift shops, hotels and restaurants. Gardiner however is quite pretty, located right on the river with some stylish restaurants, close to the hot springs and is home to lots of wandering Elk.
Grizzly Bears – 1
Buffalos – 200+
Elk – 50+
Wolves – possibly one from the distance
Hot Springs, Galore!
If you look, you will be rewarded. There are so many hot springs in Wyoming; it’s almost impossible to miss them. Chat to the locals, look online – there is something for everyone.
Medicine Bow National Forest
We may have missed the mark for ‘autumn’ hiking, but the hikes we did do (snow covered and frozen) were spectacular. In a short-lived visit, due to the plummeting temperatures and high winds, we completed the short hike to Lewis Lake, and the long hike up to Medicine Bow Peak. Although I would recommend them both, the weather here is known to quickly change, so be prepared for everything.
Boars Tusk and Beyond
From lush, mountainous forests, to wide open and desert-like, it’s a large change in scenery when you head East from Jackson to Laramie and Cheyenne. Large cities become further apart, and small western living comes more into focus. There are wild horses roaming fields, and large vacant pieces of land stretch as far as the eye can see. Somewhat like it’s brother to the North East, Boars Tusk sticks out of the ground in a protruding fashion just like Devil’s Tower.