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Wyoming

Wyoming

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

8.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Strong appeal in middle of curve (Mid-Venturers and Mid-Authentics); loses some interest with pure Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • Yellowstone is the world’s oldest national park (1872) and America’s second largest.
  • Cheyenne Frontier Days is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.
  • Wyoming was first to give women the right to vote (1869) and to elect a woman governor (1924).
  • Wyoming has the smallest population of the 50 U.S. states.
  • The Sundance Kid took his name from a Wyoming town called Sundance.

The Cowboy State

The Old West lives — no, thrives — in Wyoming. The Cowboy State has working cattle ranches, powwows, big-time rodeos, reservations where visitors sleep in teepees, open spaces for wagon train and campfire experiences and Yellowstone National Park.

It retains unspoiled natural wonders, ideal for those of all personality types who like outdoor activities ranging from fishing or skiing to rock climbing and mountain biking. Wyoming also is defined by something it lacks: a large population. Cheyenne, the largest metropolis, counts fewer than 65,000 people.

Tourists come to Wyoming in part because they want to get a feel for the oft-romanticized Old West and because the state offers great natural beauty in big doses. Its parks include a couple of the most popular — Yellowstone and Grand Teton — which offer dramatic landscapes and lots of space to relax or play hard at hiking, mountain climbing and other adventurous outdoor activities.

Yellowstone and Hot Springs State Park offer another of nature’s surprises, the rumbling, grumbling and sometimes brightly colored results of lots of underground geothermal activity. That’s how we get Old Faithful, but that geyser is only one example.

Several historic trails were used by gold seekers, settlers, outlaws, the military, Indians fleeing the white man and the Pony Express. There is more evidence of this in Wyoming than in any other state. The three best-known trails, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail, converged at the South Pass, a relatively gentle break in the mountains, after which the trails went their separate ways. As a result, many traveled through Wyoming, but few stayed.

Predictably, Wyoming attracts those who like being outdoors and who appreciate the state’s natural, unsullied beauty. Also, those who want a retreat from civilization often seek out Wyoming. Travelers frequently comment favorably about Wyoming’s low-density population, peace, serenity and isolation.

Yellowstone has nine on-site lodging options of varying types, but all are nonsmoking establishments, and none have air conditioning or much in the way of electronic communications with the outside world. Summertime in Wyoming provides an oasis for travelers escaping hot weather or humidity at home. Skiers obviously wait for winter.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Join an archaeological dig at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis.
  • Put on the snowshoes or cross-country skis for a trek in the Uinta Mountains, staying overnight in a yurt (with some modern comforts) at, say, 9,000 feet above sea level. This business of yurt camping was born in 1995 when the U.S. Forest Service and Bear River Outdoor Recreation Alliance teamed up to erect first one yurt, then a few others. They are available year-round.
  • Spend a few nights at the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, sleeping in a teepee, touring the reservation on horseback, participating in evening powwows and hearing the tribe’s stories.
  • Go mountain biking in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Start with the three-mile Turtle Rock Trail (which is shared with hikers), but there are numerous others, enough to occupy a full day or several days.
  • Try the dune buggy experience at the Killpecker Sand Dunes north of Rock Springs in southwest Wyoming.
  • Don buckskin, pitch a teepee and be a mountain man for a weekend. Each summer, Wyoming hosts a series of rendezvous roughly modeled on 19th century gatherings of trappers, traders, mountain men and Native Americans. For the trappers, that meant selling their furs and getting supplies.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Stay at the Ivy House Bed and Breakfast in Casper. It is said to be haunted by its first owners and their cats. The current owners throw haunted slumber parties in October and lead tours on summer nights to the town’s haunted sites.
  • Most of Wyoming’s larger lakes are managed by the Bureau of Reclamation and are there for you to use for boating, fishing, waterskiing and other water sports.
  • Go skiing, but sample winter’s other opportunities in Wyoming, as well: ice skating, sleigh rides, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing.
  • Attend a powwow at the Wind River Reservation, home to Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indians. Sacajawea, who was Shoshone, is buried west of Fort Washakie.
  • Travel for several days with a covered wagon train along the trails used by pioneers, or do this in the Tetons. You may find comforts our forebears did not: rubber tires, foam padded seats and deluxe bunks.
  • Stay at the rustic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, right next to the Old Faithful Geyser.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Drive through the Shoshone National Forest, the nation’s first national forest, and look for antelope, bears, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose and mountain goats. Then, take that search for bears (black and grizzly) into nearby Yellowstone National Park.
  • Attend a cowboy poetry gathering. Cowboy poetry sessions are a tradition born of long and isolating stays out on the range when there was little do at night around a campfire. The 21st century events include ballads, historic presentations, seminars, storytelling and western singing.
  • Go fly-fishing in the Platte River. Wyoming has 22 species of game fish.
  • Stop at a classic diner and order shepherds pie and cobbler. Or, book a chuck wagon event, cowboy cookout or dinner camp for a meal reminiscent of the Old West.
  • Attend a big rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, in July.
  • Stay at a dude ranch. Many ranches are near parks or national forests. The ranch experiences can vary widely, with options for quiet fishing, hiking and biking, horseback riding or — just like in the movies — a chance to rope and brand a steer or help move cattle from one pasture to another. You decide.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Wyoming Travel and Tourism at www.wyomingtourism.org