One thing you won’t find in Wyoming are bustling metropolises – the largest city, Cheyenne, comes from 65,000 inhabitants. But if you’re looking for a touch of the West – wide open spaces, high peaks, Native American history, wildlife, geysers, hot springs, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, fly fishing and “gunslinger duels” – you’ll find it, with lots of small town charm.
Different parts of the state offer different types of attractions, from the ski town of Jackson Hole to the college town of Laramie and Lander, the outdoor icon. Choose your destination – or opt for a few – and explore the best of Wyoming.
yellowstone national park
Best National Park for Geysers, Wildlife
Yellowstone isn’t just the nation’s first national park, it’s also packed with over 10,000 hydrothermal features, stunning scenery, and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Stroll the boardwalks and see the colorful multi-colored hydrothermal features, watch the geysers erupt and spend time gazing at the boiling mud – it’s a lot more fascinating than you might think.
Old Faithful’s eruptions are so predictable that the park publishes a schedule of predicted eruption times for the iconic geyser and a few others. Be sure to arrive early, as the forecasts are estimates only and you don’t want to be a minute late.
Spend time at wildlife hotspots like the Lamar and Hayden Valleys – dawn and dusk are considered prime times for wildlife viewing, though you can often spot creatures in Yellowstone – like buffalo herds – all day long.
Grand Teton National Park
Best national park for hiking
Pull on your pack, strap your bear spray to your belt, and get ready to go hiking. Grand Teton National Park is a favorite destination for trail enthusiasts, encompassing great options for everything from an hour-long walk to an intense multi-day adventure. For a scenic day hike, consider Jenny Lake or hike one of the park’s mountain canyons.
To hang one night backcountry permittry to get an advanced permit months in advance or try to get a first-come, first-served permit available in person a day before the trip starts – competition for permits can be fierce, so have a plan rescue.
Be well prepared and equipped for any hike in the park and check the current conditions and weather, bearing in mind that conditions in the mountains can change very quickly. Be prepared for wildlife encounters and practice good bear safety.
Best town for skiers
Receiving over 500 inches of snow a year – covering some of the best terrain in the world – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is on every avid skier’s bucket list. Book early and spend days cruising the snow groomers or riding fresh powder in Teton Village. Or stay in town and try Jackson’s “Town Hill” – Snow King Mountain Resort – which is walkable from town.
Like any good ski resort, Jackson also offers many top-notch après-ski selections. Check out Teton Village’s range of options, from the Alpenhof to the Mangy Moose — where you can often hear live music — or venture into the town of Jackson to check out the Snake River Brewery and other spots.
The best place to learn about the past
Spread across five different museums and a research library, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West tells the beautiful, grand, and often chaotic history of the American West. All five museums are worth a visit, but if you’re short on time, be sure to visit the Plains Indian Museum to learn more about the indigenous people who lived here long before Europeans arrived.
Founded in 1979, the museum showcases the rich culture, history, traditions of the Plains Indian peoples and their lives today. Browse both historical artifacts, like an authentic buffalo-skin tipi from around 1850, and contemporary works by local artists.
Cody also hosts the Plains Indian Pow Wow, which usually takes place in June.
Other museums in the center include the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, and the Cody Firearms Museum.
Best place for guest ranches
With less than 1,000 residents, Dubois is tiny, but it’s one of the best places in the state to sign up for a week-long stay at one of the nearby guest or “dude” ranches. Learn about life on the ranch, saddle up to explore, cast a fishing line, or sign up for a multi-day wilderness horseback riding trip.
In town, visit the Dubois Museum, National Military Vehicle Museum, and National Bighorn Sheep Center, and be sure to visit the Dubois Friday Night Rodeo in the summer. Grab a deli sandwich, a slice of pizza, or even a steak in town, before heading out to immerse yourself in the world of ranching.
Best place to enjoy hot springs
Best known for its hot springs, Thermopolis is an unmissable paradise for couples, groups, solo travelers and families. Go for a relaxing soak in the public baths at Hot Springs State Park or get ready for hot springs water park action at Star Plunge, which has waterslides, pools and even a “steam grotto,” a natural hammam.
Thermopolis, however, has more to offer than hot springs. Hike six miles of state park trails, visit the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, hire a guide for a fishing trip or sign up for a horseback riding tour. Relax or find the action – it’s up to you.
Best Outdoor City
Lander is home to the headquarters of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of outdoor adventures nearby. The city is teeming with people involved in NOLS in one way or another, and there’s no shortage of outdoor enthusiasts eager to rock climb, mountain bike or scale a peak. And with Sinks Canyon State Park just down the road, you’ll find plenty of places to play.
After a day of sightseeing, settle into town for a fun night out. Lander Brewing Company is a favorite place to rehash the day’s adventures while sipping a pint of Rock Chuck Rye or Half-Tanked Hefe.
Best college town vibe
Laramie is not only home to the University of Wyoming and Cowboys football, but also the country highest division 1 stageat a peak 7220 feet.
This bustling college town always has some kind of event, party, live music, art walk, farmers market or other activity that lets you go around town. Don’t miss Laramie Jubilee Days in July.
Laramie also has one of the most diverse dining scenes in the state, with an array of cuisines including Indian, Mexican, Italian, Thai, and Japanese. Find a perfect cafe for studying or relaxing with a good book, and drop by one of the many local watering holes to watch a game or just hang out.
Best place for a classic Wyoming experience
Cheyenne is not only the capital of Wyoming, it also holds a special place in the heart of any country music lover. From George Strait’s “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” to Garth Brooks’ “The Beaches of Cheyenne,” the city keeps popping up in country music decade after decade for a reason. Head to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum for a touch of rodeo history or visit during rodeo season to see what it’s all about. If you’re there during the rodeo, head to the “Indian Village” where Native American performers have shared dance, culture and music every year since 1898.
Cheyenne is rich in history, so be sure to spend time immersing yourself in local lore and history at the Wyoming State Capitol, Wyoming Historic Governors Mansion, Cheyenne Depot Museum for Railroad History. The Nelson Museum of the West features a number of Native American exhibits, including Pueblo Indian art and Plains Indian art. In the summer, head downtown to ‘Gunslinger Square’ for a staged Wild West gunfight and hop on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley to learn all about Wild West history.
All around Cheyenne you’ll see 8 feet tall”big boots” on the screen. These large-scale creations are custom designed by a variety of Wyoming artists as works of public art.
Best fly fishing town
A river town through and through, Casper is known for its top-notch fly fishing. Venture down the “Miracle Mile” for trout, or stay in town and fish the North Platte River that runs through Casper. While the North Platte is a top fishing destination, you can also cast your rod in other nearby waters including Alcova Reservoir and Fremont Canyon. Stop at a fly shop to learn more about local conditions or hire a guide to make your day of fishing even better.
Stop by the Fort Caspar Museum and Historic Site, National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, and Salt Creek Museum to learn about local history, or visit the Casper Planetarium to peek into the cosmos. With half a dozen breweries, Casper has earned a spot on the Wyoming Beer Trailand Gruner Brothers Brewing offers behind-the-scenes tours.