Mostly made up of wild and untouched open spaces, Wyoming is one of the largest, yet least densely populated, states in the US. As such, the few adventurous visitors who make it here will find lots of dramatic landscapes, scenery and nature to explore with nary another soul in sight.
While the Great Plains coat most of the east of the state, the incredible national parks of both Grand Teton and Yellowstone can be found in the west. Each boasts magnificent mountains, valleys and lakes and offers outstanding things to do in Wyoming such as outdoor activities and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Although its impressive natural riches are why most people visit the Cowboy State, some interesting historic sites and charming cities are also scattered about. With so many lovely geysers and gorges, springs and canyons to see though, the great outdoors always beckons when in Wyoming.
23. Bridger Teton National Forest
Sprawled across an absolutely massive part of northwest Wyoming is the pristine and picturesque Bridger Teton National Forest. Snaking their way about its wonderful wilderness are 2,000 miles of scenic trails to explore with cozy campsites and recreational areas.
The country’s third-largest national forest outside of Alaska, it encompasses everything from almost endless woods and mountain ranges to shimmering lakes, rivers and glaciers. As well as protecting lofty parts of the Continental Divide and Wind River Mountains, it includes the gigantic 13,804 feet high Gannett Peak.
Aside from exploring the slopes and summit of the state’s highest mountain, visitors can drive along its scenic byways or kayak about its pretty waterways. Among its many highlights are the stupendous Snake River Canyon and the hugely popular Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
22. Fort Laramie
An interesting and educational place, the fantastic Fort Laramie lies in the southeast of the state, just outside the tiny town of the same name. At its National Historic Site, you can learn all about the country’s westward expansion and the fierce Indian resistance settlers and soldiers faced.
Originally founded as a private trading post in the 1830s, it later became an important United States Army installation. This is because of its strategic setting at the confluence of two rushing rivers and proximity to the lowest crossing point over the Rockies. As such, wagon trains of migrant travelers along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails all passed by the fort.
Nowadays, visitors can explore its historic buildings full of authentic artifacts and exhibits. Photos and short videos cover topics such as life at a frontier outpost, the short-lived Pony Express and the American Indian Wars.
21. Mammoth Hot Springs
While Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful may attract the most attention, you certainly won’t want to miss out on the epic Mammoth Hot Springs. Fittingly named, the enormous, ever-changing limestone formations and their bubbling springs lie in the very north of Yellowstone National Park.
Formed over millennia, its otherworldly-looking landscapes are created by the steamy hot springs melting the soft, chalky rock. Consequently, a kaleidoscopic array of colors now greet your eye with white, pink and red travertine terraces coating its big basin and steep hillsides.
Over the years, a small settlement has sprung up adjacent to the springs. In its historic district of the same name, you can explore Fort Yellowstone, stroll around its informative visitor centre and relax and unwind at spas and hotels.
20. Ayres Natural Bridge
Another stunning sight to view and photo is the arresting Ayres Natural Bridge in between Glenrock and Douglas in the east of the state. Now protected as part of a park, it lies amongst verdant woodlands and ruddy red rock formations.
Widely considered to be one of Wyoming’s first tourist attractions, it was often visited by early settlers traveling along the nearby Oregon Trail. Ever since the 1840s and even earlier, people have marveled at the hulking great arch which crosses over the gushing LaPrele Creek.
Standing thirty feet tall and spanning fifty feet in length, it makes for some fabulous photos with the lush undergrowth around it. Besides snapping some pics, you can splash about in the stream or hike, picnic and camp in the park. You can also clamber atop the arch for some exquisite panoramas.
19. Fossil Butte National Monument
Tucked away in the southwest corner of the state you can find the phenomenal Fossil Butte National Monument. In addition to being home to hundreds of fascinating fossils and a humongous butte, it has lovely hikes, scenic drives and geology talks to enjoy.
A unique paleontological site, the long dried up Fossil Lake somehow perfectly preserved fossils of animals, fish and plants below its ancient sediments. Uncovered in the late nineteenth century by miners, they astonishingly date to the Eocene Epoch – some 56 to 34 million years ago.
While digs still take place in summer, most people instead peruse the delightfully detailed fossils in its visitor center. Interactive exhibits, videos and ranger talks explain more about the geology and history of the national monument while hikes about the butte give you a better lay of the land.
18. Old Trail Town
If you really want to step back in time, then the atmospheric Old Trail Town is the place to go. With dozens of historic frontier buildings to stroll around, it perfectly captures what life in the Old West was like during the days of Buffalo Bill.
These include not just countless cabins but old saloons, stores, a carpenter’s and a schoolhouse too. All of them feature era-appropriate artifacts and furnishings with displays, tools and wagons dotted here and there. Only adding to the authenticity is the fact that the buildings were reassembled at the original townsite of Cody, which the western scout and showman founded in 1895.
A firm favorite with families, Old Trail Town can easily be visited along with Yellowstone National Park, which lies just a bit further west along US Highway 14.
17. Devil’s Tower
Impressively the first national monument to be established in the US in 1906, the dramatic-looking Devil’s Tower dominates and defines its surroundings. Towering 1,267 feet above the rugged terrain around it, the mighty monolith can be found right in the northeast of Wyoming.
Actually the core of an ancient volcano exposed by the elements, its steep sides and lonely location certainly make for a striking sight. Aside from somehow scaling its seemingly unreachable summit, outdoor lovers can hike and camp around the bottom of the lofty landmark.
At its excellent visitor center, you can learn more about the distinctive Devil’s Tower and the Native American tribes who hold it to be sacred. Sci-fi fans may also recognize it from the climactic scenes of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
16. Old Faithful
Yet another legendary landmark to see in the state is the absolutely incredible Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Renowned for its highly predictable and enormous eruptions, the iconic event can be witnessed at least hourly in the park’s southwest section.
Due to its remarkable regularity, it was fittingly named Old Faithful by the Washburn Expedition of 1870. Although it is not the park’s tallest or largest geyser, its colossal column of boiling water still spurts anywhere between 100 and 180 feet in height. This extraordinary natural show generally lasts between one and a half to five minutes in total.
While waiting for the next eruption, you can stop by some of its surrounding restaurants and shops or learn more about it at its visitor center. The Upper Geyser Basin also has plenty of other amazing geysers for you to see in the area.
15. National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
Offering an interesting insight into the lives and travels of pioneers heading west is the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Its interactive and engaging exhibits highlight the considerable challenges and achievements of the wagon trains in the 1800s.
First opened to the public in 2002, its state-of-the-art center lies on the northwestern outskirts of Casper. Its spacious galleries contain life-sized dioramas, and short videos, special effects and multi-media installations really bring the scenes to life before your eyes.
Its permanent exhibits focus on the four historic trails that meandered their way through Wyoming. Consequently, guests learn not just about the Oregon, California and Mormon trails but that of the Pony Express too. With original artifacts, personal belongings and creaky old wagons all featuring; the museum is one of the city’s top sights.
14. Flaming Gorge
Straddling the Wyoming-Utah state line is the fantastic Flaming Gorge. A massively popular national recreation area, it has all kinds of epic outdoor activities to enjoy with spellbinding scenery, nature and views.
Formed by the damming of the Green River, its gigantic reservoir is the park’s main feature. Lining the ninety-mile-long man-made lake are numerous marinas where you can rent boats, kayaks and try out fun watersports. Secluded beaches and fishing spots are also scattered about.
Rising above its scenic shores are the colorful walls of the gorge which look particularly dazzling at sunrise and sunset. Here you can hike, bike, rock climb and camp with the almost endless Ashley National Forest also offering unforgettable adventures.
13. Raft the Snake River
If you’re looking for an exhilarating experience, then you can’t beat rafting down the roaring Snake River. As it rises in western Wyoming, there are plenty of navigable parts where you can shoot over rapids or float peacefully along while basking in the breathtaking scenery.
While it stretches more than a thousand miles in total and through six states, only a smallish section is located in the Cowboy State. This picturesque part however passes not just through the towering Teton Range and colossal Snake River Canyon but by the gorgeous Jackson Hole too. While some stretches are simple enough, others are a bit more challenging as rocks and rapids line the route.
In and around Jackson there are countless companies which run excursions for all ages and abilities with sweeping views and stunning nature guaranteed the whole way along.
12. Jackson Town Square
In the center of the charming town is a superb little square at which to spend some time. Particularly known for the iconic elk antler archways at each corner, its leafy green spaces are lined by umpteen local shops and restaurants.
Frequented by both locals and tourists alike, the pretty park has lush lawns, leafy paths and relaxing benches for people to make use of. Its defining feature, however, is of course its intriguing archways which are each made out of hundreds of bright white antlers.
Besides snapping some profile pics beneath them, you can take a peaceful stagecoach ride around the square and its surrounding streets or stop by some of its booming businesses. In addition to souvenir shops and themed saloons, there are art galleries, clothes stores and a small mall to check out.
11. Hot Springs State Park
After so much sightseeing and outdoor activities, what better way to relax than sit back and soak in Hot Springs State Park? As well as boasting the largest hot springs in North America, it also has some splendid spas and water parks to splash about in.
Actually the first state park established in Wyoming in 1897, its warm waters and travertine terraces can be found in the appropriately named town of Thermopolis. Aside from viewing the bubbling hot springs, the large park also has a large herd of bison and age-old petroglyphs.
At the free State Bath House, guests can wallow in its warm waters either inside or outdoors. Other establishments in the area are also home to water slides, hot tubs and wave pools.
10. National Elk Refuge
One of the best places in Wyoming to see wonderful wildlife up close is the excellent National Elk Refuge. Covering a huge area just east of Jackson, its pristine landscapes protect bison, wolves and bears and, of course, thousands of arresting elk.
Founded in 1912 to preserve the local habitat and wildlife populations, it is inhabited each winter by roughly 7,500 or so elk. During this time, visitors can take horse-drawn sleigh rides about its snow-coated hills and valleys to see the humongous herds roaming around.
The rest of the year you can hike its mountains, marshes and meadows or spot lonely elk and other animals from your window while driving along Refuge Road. Bighorn sheep, bald eagles and coyotes can sometimes be sighted with the marvelous mountains forming a beautiful backdrop.
9. Lamar Valley
Another idyllic and untouched area where you can see bison, moose and wolves is the lovely Lamar Valley. Nestled away in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park, its wild and isolated reaches are a haven for local wildlife.
Lying around the river of the same name, the vast valley encompasses picture-perfect forests, plains and streams. While huge herds of hulking great bison are easily seen and photographed, wolves and grizzlies are also often spotted in the area.
On top of slowly cruising along its roads and snapping some pictures, you can also hike, horseback ride or camp amidst its sprawling confines. Fly-fishing and birdwatching are other popular pastimes with ospreys and bald eagles often spied overhead against the bright blue sky.
8. Cheyenne Frontier Days
As it is the ‘World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration’, the Cheyenne Frontier Days really is an unmissable event. Since 1897, locals and out-of-staters alike have come to the fun-filled festival in Cheyenne to enjoy its rodeos and races, concerts and competitions.
Held over ten action-packed days are a huge number of events with innumerable exhibits and activities also taking place. Besides bull riding and barrel races, you can watch exciting steer wrestling, roping and trick riding competitions.
Only adding to the intoxicating ambiance are colorful parades, concerts and carnival games, enjoyed by young and old alike. What’s more, a whole host of shops, stands and stalls pack out both Old Frontier Town and Indian Village while thrilling air shows roar overhead.
7. Jenny Lake
Not far from Jackson Lake is another of Grand Teton National Park‘s standout sites: the glimmering Jenny Lake. Formed millennia ago by slow-moving glaciers, its mirror-like waters now make for some memorable photos and views with the majestic mountains rising all around them.
Hemmed in on all sides by prominent peaks, its sparkling surface and shores are surrounded by verdant woods, valleys and rock formations. Asides from basking in its beauty, you can hike and bike about its trails or fish, swim and kayak out on the lake. Many people also come to paint, photo or draw the captivating scenery before them.
One of the park’s major focal points, Jenny Lake is set not far from countless other incredible natural sights. As such, it is well worth camping or staying in a cosy lodge overnight with scenic drives and sightseeing cruises also available.
6. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
One of the most iconic ski destinations in North America, the superb Jackson Hole Mountain Resort overlooks the vast valley of the same name. Although known for its challenging terrain and massive vertical drop, it has over a hundred runs for all ability levels to enjoy.
Mostly perched on the side of the south-facing Apres Vous Mountain, it first opened to the public in 1965. Since then, it has grown a lot with a dozen chairlifts and high-up aerial tram now servicing its steep slopes and terrain parks. In total, its plentiful pistes plunge their way over 4,000 feet down the mountainside.
While skiing and snowboarding, you can bask in commanding views of the snowy landscapes all around you. In summer, many come to hike and bike around the rugged range with its bustling village base always hosting fun events, concerts and shows.
5. Bighorn Canyon
Offering all kinds of awesome outdoor activities is the breathtaking Bighorn Canyon on the border with Montana. Formed by the damming of the river in the sixties, its ginormous national recreation area lies partly within the Crow Indian Reservation.
Rising all around the calm waters of the man-made Bighorn Lake are the colorful, craggy walls of the canyon. Stretching over seventy miles in length, it makes for a spectacular sight with boating, kayaking and watersports being available out on the lake.
As well as fishing for trout and visiting the area’s handful of historic ranches, you can hike along its rim and gaze down into the canyon below. Swimming and camping are also on offer while herds of wild horses can be seen in the nearby Pryor Mountains.
4. Buffalo Bill Center of the West
If you’re interested in learning more about the Wild West then the brilliant Buffalo Bill Center of the West is an absolute must. At its sizeable complex in Cody, you’ll find five museums to explore, full of artifacts, exhibits and artworks.
Originally established in 1917 to preserve the legacy of William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody and his impact on the American West, it has since expanded considerably in scope. While a couple of the museums look at art and armaments, another covers the history, culture and traditions of the Plains Indians.
Besides delving into the life, times and achievements of Buffalo Bill, you can also explore the area’s native ecosystems and wildlife. As the museums present art, history, culture and nature in an utterly engrossing manner, the state-of-the-art center is certainly not to be missed.
3. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Undoubtedly one of the park’s most popular and picturesque parts is the astounding Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Sure to delight nature lovers and outdoor aficionados alike, it is home to lots of phenomenal viewpoints, waterfalls and hiking trails.
Formed throughout millennia, its sheer sides plunge between 800 to 1,200 feet in depth with the entire canyon reaching around 24 miles in length. At the bottom courses the rough Yellowstone River that slowly eroded the rock over the eons. While a couple of cacophonous waterfalls line its route, smaller falls, streams and hot springs also dot the colorful canyon’s walls.
Hiking along its rugged rim is very rewarding as divine views and lofty overlooks lie the whole way along. Its trails also take you through some pristine nature with the Canyon Campground also located nearby.
2. Grand Teton
The second-highest peak in the state, Grand Teton dominates and defines the awe-inspiring national park of the same name. Long a popular mountaineering destination, it has dozens of arduous routes for experienced climbers to navigate with only around a thousand people summiting it each year.
Towering above the rest of the range, its prominent rocky peak reaches a staggering 13,775 feet in height. While some sections are easy enough to hike, others involve climbing and scrambling up steep mountainsides with some routes also featuring rappelling too.
Park visitors don’t have to ascend its snow-coated summit though to appreciate its stupendous size, scale and splendor. One of the nation’s most recognized and revered mountains, Grand Teton rivals most if not all of Wyoming’s natural sights in terms of its breathtaking beauty.
1. Grand Prismatic Spring
One natural phenomenon that possibly outshines the majestic mount however is the gorgeous Grand Prismatic Spring. Famed and named for its captivating colors that create an optical prism, it can be found in the west of Yellowstone National Park.
The largest hot spring in the United States, its bright, bubbling waters measure roughly around 370 feet in diameter. While the large pool’s vivid hues are already impressive, the desolate and destroyed landscapes around them only add to the striking scene.
After having snapped some photos of its remarkable reds and yellows, greens and blues, visitors can always stop by some of the other pretty pools and geysers lying nearby. It is hard to beat the Grand Prismatic Spring though with its overlook offering up the best vantage point and photos of the site.