With less than 600,000 residents in our eighth largest state, you may misconstrue Wyoming as a big, wide empty.
It isn’t so.
Driving from the little town of Sheridan, Wyoming on Route 90 toward Red Lodge, Montana, hang a left at Route 14. Drive through the Big Horn Mountains letting your jaw spend a lot of time dropping in amazement.
The views rival those seen driving through the very popular Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Wyoming’s 1.1 million acres of National Forest offers outdoor recreation from hiking and camping to fishing and hunting. We nipped into this grand area by driving on Route 14. We’re look forward to going back and getting farther off the driven path.
If you’re in no rush, stop at the Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center at the junction of 14A and 310. Pick up literature about the canyon, the 71-mile-long Bighorn Lake, and dramatically gorgeous Yellowtail Dam. This 120,000 acre national park crosses state boundaries. It includes the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and a stunning view from the Devil’s Canyon Overlook. Maybe you’ll see Bighorn Sheep.
Custer Gallatin National Forests
For adventures waiting to be had in the Custer Gallatin National Forests, at Lovell, take a right and head north into Montana. In Bridger, go a left and scoot down to itsy bitsy Belfry, turn right and wind up in Red Lodge.
Back to Wyoming, another drive takes you out of Red Lodge on Highway 308 to 72 south and onto WY-120E toward Cody. This highway also takes you to Heart Mountain, should you choose to take a left and learn about this site as an Japanese internment camp during WWII.
Quintessential Town of Cody, Wyoming
Cody is the eastern entrance into Yellowstone National Park—a short 50 mile drive. The Buffalo Bill Dam dates back to 1905 and is a stupendous sight. It looms 295 feet above the Shoshone River, which happened to be a raging torrent the day we were there—along with a thick, sideways slanting rain that kept us from walking around. The visitor’s center is free to the public and open May through September. Check it out and watch the vintage films about the building of the dam.
In Cody, you can find:
Buffalo Bill Center of the West (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution). Museums within the center include:
- Draper Natural History Museum
- Whitney Western Art Museum
- Plains Indian Museum
- Cody Firearms Museum
- McCracken Research Library
- On main street, stop in the Irma Hotel, named for Buffalo Bill’s youngest daughter, and treat yourself to a scrumptious old-fashioned dessert.
- There is a Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, put on by the Rocky Mountain Dance Theatre performers.
- Cody Nite Rodeo every summer night from 6/1-8/31.
- Trolley Tours run for an hour and cover 22 miles around the city.
- Old Trail Town including Jeremiah Johnston’s (yes, he was real) grave, Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Cabin and 27 other historic buildings.
- River rafting is an exciting thing to do around Cody—another way to enjoy the Shoshone River.
- Microbrews – the west is full of small breweries that put out some tasty products. In the area, check out Millstone Pizza Co. & Brewery and Pat O’Hara Brewing Co.
Don’t skip the Cody Center for Performing Arts and try to catch the Cody Monologues—about famous and infamous western women.
Jackson Hole is only four miles south of Grand Teton National Park, which is just south of Yellowstone National Park. For non-river level fun, ride the Big Red aerial tram to climb 4,139 vertical feet for dramatic views.
Jackson may be a tourist town, but it’s filled to the cowboy hat brim with a mix of things to do for locals and visitors alike:
- Grand Teton Music Festival starts the beginning of July and runs for three weeks.
- Old West Days takes place in May.
- September is the Jackson Hole Marathon, including a half-marathon and relay race.
- Fall, gorgeous in golden colors, is a perfect time for the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.
- A detour drive to take from Cody, is the Sunlight Basin and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.
Chief Joseph was a Nez Perce, famous for saying, “I will fight no more forever.” Drive Dead Indian Pass, at 8,060 feet, and look west to enjoy the view of Sunlight Basin and the Clark’s Fork River. This hour-long trip has abundant beautiful views and connects to the Beartooth Highway (leading to Red Lodge as the northeast entrance to Yellowstone).
Heading South Toward Denver
If you choose to continue south out of Cody on Route 120 toward the little city of Thermopolis (claim to fame: hot springs for soaking in), and pick up Route 20, you trek through part of the Wind River Canyon—another breath-taking bit of scenery. Follow 26/20 until Casper and pick up Interstate 25 this will take you through Cheyenne—Wyoming’s last big city before Fort Collins (and if you can spend the night there, it is a delightful and inviting place to spend the night).
There’s a great deal to see in Wyoming—so when you plan that road trip through America’s west, don’t forget to include the big, wide empty of a this beautiful state.
Hike in style with groovy new sandals
What a beautiful setting Rosemary. I particularly like the last photograph of the snow settling on the mountains. This is the type of environment I could write in.
I like the sound of the Wild Wild West Show!
I always enjoying reading your tales of adventure and hope (and pray) that I will spend alot of my latter years travelling around the world. At least then the childrearing and working would have ceased leaving me ample time to travel.
I’m glad to hear that you find it beautiful, Phoenicia. I watch more BBC shows than I do our shows and gasp sometimes at the beauty of the British countryside. Our homelands have so much to offer.
Until you get started on your traveling, I’m happy to keep sharing all of mine with you!
Isn’t is amazing how things connect? We just watched “Annie, get your gun” ( so fun) about Annie Oakley and the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, then I finished a book by Lee Child “The Midnight Line” set in Wyoming which mentioned the distances to travel from one place to the next and here you are writing about Wyoming and the many interesting places to visit. I hope you return there soon so we can hear more about this amazing country and the spectacular views.
I love when this happens, Lenie! It reinforces that the world is small and wonderful and connected. I’ll have to watch “Annie—.” I’d given the DVD to my folks years ago and never watched it myself. Bad daughter!
I’ll see what else I can come up with.
It’s been a very long time, but I have wonderful memories of my trip through Wyoming and I would love to return. I’ve never been to Jackson Hole so I’d like to make a stop there, and while I’ve been to plenty of rodeos on Maui it would be fun to take in a few there as well. Great photos as always!
Rodeos on Maui–I would have never believed it! I hope you get that trip to MT & WY soon.
Glad you like the pics–I think I’ve figured out the new settings.
This post brings back lots of great memories of things I got to see when I went on day-off adventures while working in Yellowstone. I only made it to Cody a couple of times, but loved the Buffalo Bill museum. On the other hand, I made it to Jackson Hole quite often. I only got to drive though last summer as my love and his child weren’t too keen on gawking at mountains after a long (and snowy) week in Yellowstone.
Snow can have a damper on mountain viewing, Jeri, but still seeing Jackson Hole is so awesome. This just means you need another road trip!
I never would have even considered Wyoming as a place to visit (with all due respect to Wyoming-ers? ins? ites?) Now I will!
Glad to give you a difference perspective on Wyoming, Karen. It is super pretty.
We absolutely loved Grand Teton NP and Jackson Hole. I remember an incredible cowboy bar there with the most amazing saddle bar seats and antler decor. Can’t recall the name of it, but I can envision myself there right now.
I’m giggling, Doreen, there are fun cowboy bars in most western towns! Like the Snag in Red Lodge. My sister swears that they have the best hamburgers of all time. haha. Glad you have experienced Wyoming first hand!
So much to do in Wyoming. I’d love to visit there. Since I’ve lived in a city my entire adult life, I really crave spending time in more open spaces. I’m intrigued by the idea of river rafting. That’s something I’ve never done but always seems fun. And the Buffalo Bill Center of the West seems like a great visit.
Erica, even my city-slicker husband loved the wide open of Wyoming. There are so many spots where it is utterly quiet. That amazes me. The Buffalo Bill Center–you can literally spend an entire day there!
I traveled to Wyoming a couple years ago to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
I think Wyoming gets shortchanged, Ken, so I’m glad to hear that you thought it was well-worth visiting, too.
I associate Wyoming with wide open spaces. That looks to be true, but those spaces are scenic. And I’d enjoy stopping at the spots you’ve highlighted. I’m saving this for future travels.
Marvelous, Donna. I can’t wait to read one of your blogs about being in Wyoming!
I’d recommended reading Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces if you haven’t already done so.
I have not, but will add it to the queue!
RoseMary, you must have written this blog for me! You know how much I loved Wyoming when we were there last year. I’m determined to go back – and the only place we stayed in was Jackson Hole, so maybe next time we’ll make it to Cody too. I loved seeing those wide open plains with the majestic Tetons rising up as if from nowhere. Glorious!
Cody and Jackson Hole are very different, Monika. Each is a great town, but Cody will feel less touristy to you. Those Tetons are astounding! I hope I gave you some ideas for when you head west again.
Wyoming is a beautiful state. The first time we ever drove through Wyoming it played back in my head like a video for a long time. Around every curve there were more incredible red rocks and views that I had never seen the likes of before. Cody is a great town, very quaint and lovely. The drive to Sheridan never gets old. It’s a very peaceful drive from Billings (unless you get caught in a snow storm!).
Coming from Pennsylvania–beautiful in different ways–seeing the wide openness of Montana and yet the tall trees on the hills and back again to the bare topped mountains … it must have a been a big surprise to you, Jackie. Oh wait, it was to me, too!
Down with snow! (As the snow falls down.)