Wyoming is a magnet for travelers looking to escape the city buzz. It is the kind of place that just calls out to the nature-lover in you and beckons you to hike its mountains, traverse its trails, and take pictures of its wonderful scenery. From mountains dramatically towering over rivers and lakes to elevated meadows, Wyoming is the country’s most sought-after destination. Not to mention, this rugged beauty can be seen anywhere you go, from the luxury of Jackson Hole cabin rentals or at any of the historic small towns.
When planning a trip to Wyoming, your itinerary should be more than just scenery viewing though. Most key places of interest in the state are filled with colorful history and even sinister supernatural tales. Countless outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, or kayaking can also be enjoyed here. For your guide, here are some of the places and activities you can do on your Wyoming vacation.
Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and Old West Museum
Cheyenne, named after the Cheyenne Indians, is Wyoming’s capital. It used to be the largest United States Cavalry outpost in the 1860s. Today, much of Cheyenne’s history can be seen through preserved historic sites and museums. One of their attractions is the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo held annually since 1919; it is a festival that celebrates the state’s wild west roots which lasts for 10 days. The celebration includes parades, carnival shows, concerts, and re-enactments.
If you still haven’t had enough of the wild west, you can always drop by the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. They are a not for profit organization that educates visitors on frontier history and culture, exhibiting about 60,000 artifacts in their museum collection. This includes folk art, mid-1800s clothing, and even horse-drawn carriages.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
A popular place to go fishing, camping, kayaking, and swimming is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. It was so named because of the vibrant red sandstone cliffs in the area, and it stretches from Wyoming’s Green River all the way to Utah. The gorge is also where you can go water rafting, from the Flaming Gorge Dam to downstream Green River. You can also hike the Canyon Rim Trail and treat yourself to impressive views of the gorge. Some of the rock walls here have petroglyphs on them so you might see ancient drawings on your way to the top of the canyon.
Vore Buffalo Jump
The Vore Buffalo Jump has a morbid origin that you might find interesting to know. It was the site used by Native Americans to trap and slaughter buffalos, about 20,000 in fact. What the hunters did was herd the buffalos towards the 40-foot natural sinkhole, sending them plummeting to their deaths. Sometimes, they would start butchering the animals in the pit, leaving some of the bones behind. Eventually, the hunters stopped using the sinkhole because it was full of bones already. Upon discovery, archeologists found, not just buffalo bones in the site, but also the stone tools used to kill them. You can learn more about how the sinkhole was used and how the Native Americans made use of each buffalo part during your visit to the site.
Yellowstone National Park
Of course, a Wyoming would not be complete without a visit to the Yellowstone National Park. Here, you will truly be immersed in nature as you traverse countless trails and see diverse wildlife. This 2.2 million acre park is a temperate-zone ecosystem, which means that the general climate of the site is moderate. For this reason, you will see a thick, lush forest in the area, as well as beautiful meadows filled with wildflowers. Among the free-roaming animals you will here are bison, elks, antelopes, wolves, bald eagles, and bears. There are cool spots to visit here, too, like:
- Old Faithful Geyser and The Crow’s Nest
The geyser was given the name ‘Old Faithful’ because you can always rely on it erupting at least every 92 minutes. This makes it easy for visitors to schedule their visit at the geyser see the eruption on time. It spews water as hot as 200 degrees Fahrenheit, with a steam that can reach a scalding 350 degree, from heights as high as 190 feet.
Then at the Old Faithful Inn, up to its winding 76-foot stairway, is the Crow’s Nest — an indoor treehouse designed by architect Robert Reamer. According to stories, the series of catwalks and stairs is based on his childhood treehouse fantasy. In the early days of the inn, they would hire an orchestra to play from the Crow’s Nest. Unfortunately, the earthquake in 1959 damaged the property and compromised its structural integrity. Today, you will have to make reservations in advance to secure a spot for the tour.
- Morning Glory Pool
The rainbow hue of the Morning Glory Pool may look beautiful, but there are dire reasons why the pool became multi-colored. It used to only have blue water because of the thermophilic bacteria the lives off of its hot temperature. But because of the trash build up that blocked its thermal vents, it reduced the heat of the water significantly, which means other pigmented microbes can live in it too; hence the red and yellow ring around the blue water.
- Isa Lake
The Isa Lake is the only natural lake in the world that flows into both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It is located at the Continental Divide at more than 8,000 feet. According to stories, the lake was named after Miss Isabel Jelke of Cincinnati, but the reason why has yet to be known.
- Grand Prismatic Spring
The rainbow colors of this boiling spring are because of the different microbe mats that thrive in hot, mineral-rich waters. However, since the colors also depend on temperature gradient, the color of the spring also changes a little. Which means in the winter, you might see more green, and in the summer, you might see more reds and oranges.
So on your Wyoming trip, get ready to hike, bike, kayak, and go from one museum to another — it’s bound to be one amazing trip in one of the most picturesque states in America.