Wyoming has a proud history tied to the railroad and pioneers. It's also full of natural wonders—mountainous views, crystal clear lakes, and breathtaking land features across the state. If you're an outdoor lover, a visit to Wyoming is a must. With so many opportunities for climbing, hiking, camping, fishing, biking, and exploring, the hardest part is choosing a place to get started.
Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the United States. Though there are a lot of awesome things about this 2.2 million acre park, some of the most popular attractions include Old Faithful Geyser and Mammoth Hot Springs. Hike the established trails or explore the backcountry for rivers, waterfalls, ravines, lakes, and rivers. There's plenty of wildlife to spot, including wild bison, bears, wolves, elk, antelope, and bald eagles.
Along the Wyoming-Montana border is the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, where the curves of the Bighorn River are surrounded by red cliffs rising more than 1,000 feet in the air. The overlook has an amazing view and offers more than 27 miles of trails to explore over valleys, prairies, canyons, and mountains. Bighorn Lake is home to a world-class trout fishery and a great place for boating, fishing, and other water sports.
There are a lot of gorgeous natural areas in Wyoming but the Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area is one of the most breathtaking. The red canyon walls and green forests on either side of the Green River provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Popular watersports include boating, kayaking, fishing, and rafting. Higher in the canyon are desert and forest hiking trails from where you can admire the landscape below.
Cody is a small city located in the northwest part of Wyoming. It dates all the way back to 1896 when it was founded by "Buffalo Bill" Cody. With nightly rodeos and gunfight reenactments, you'll get a taste of the "wild west" experience. The downtown area has upscale lodging, restaurants, and galleries, but there's plenty to do outdoors here, too. Try out rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and river rafting.
Yellowstone isn't the only national park in Wyoming that's a must-see. In the northwest corner of the state is the Teton Mountain Range, home of Grand Teton National Park. The park is named after the highest peak in the range Grand Teton at 13,770 feet about sea level. This park is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. There's so much to do, including mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, fishing, horseback riding, and more than 60 animal species to spot. This is a great winter destination, too, as there are abundant opportunities for snowshoeing, skiing, and more.
Another striking natural feature of Wyoming's topography is Devil's Tower National Monument. This flat-topped tower of volcanic rock rises more than 1,200 feet into the air. It attracts mountain climbers from all over the world and makes for a stunning photo op, particularly in spring and summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. If rock climbing isn't your thing, you can also explore the nature trails, including a 1.3-mile paved trail circling the tower that can be enjoyed by hikers of all skill levels.
Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and its largest city, home to about 60,000 people. It began in 1867 as a stop on the Union Pacific Railroad and still displays proud artifacts from its ties to the railroad, including the Big Boy locomotive, one of the largest steam engines ever made. There are plenty of outdoor activities to get into Cheyenne, such as climbing, biking, and camping. The city also hosts a lot of great festivals throughout the year, including the Wyoming Brewers Festival, a Greek Festival, Frontier Days, and an Oktoberfest celebration.
The Wind River Range isn't as well known as the Tetons, so it's one of the most isolated hiking and backpacking experiences in all of Wyoming. This mountain range features granite peaks and spires carved by glaciers millions of years ago. As you explore the region, you'll find meadows and mountain lakes ideal for camping. Experienced backpackers should try the 23-mile Cirque of the Towers Loop, a three-day journey, to really get a feel for the Winds.
Wyoming was crucial for pioneers settling in the west, as it was one of the last places to get supplies along the way. Just outside of Guernsey, you can get a little glimpse at just how important this area was. Follow a short trail up the stony hills where you can see large four-feet deep gouges, carved in the stone from the thousands of wagon wheels that passed through here on their way to the west coast.
Hot Springs State Park is home to the world's largest mineral hot spring and a popular destination for visitors year-round. If you visit in the warmer months, take advantage of the park's extensive trail system and explore the rock formations that created the hot springs. You'll also spot bison, gorgeous flower gardens, waterfalls, and petroglyphs throughout the trails.