43.0760° N, 107.2903° W
HOME TO GRANDIOSE MOUNTAINS, WIDE OPEN PLAINS AND A RICH OLD WEST HISTORY, WYOMING IS A SERIOUSLY UNDERRATED STATE. THESE 7 SITES SHOULD BE ON EVERY ADVENTURERS WYOMING ROAD TRIP ITINERARY.
Wyoming: the least populous state in the whole USA (only 578,759 people live within its borders, less than the 31 most populous cities in the country), home to the first national park and national monument, a known haven for outlaws and finally, the first state to allow women to vote. Honestly, Wyoming is a hodge-podge of so many different things that it is somewhat hard to pin it down. And in the end, you never really know what you are going to get from the “Cowboy State.”
This is even more true when it comes to adventures. While the state is home to the first national park, Yellowstone National Park (established in 1872), as well as the first national monument, Devils Tower (established in 1906), there are so many other, lesser known places to explore within Wyoming's borders.
Below you will find seven stunning off-the-beaten-path places spread out across the state, from the rolling plains of the east to the high peaks of the west.
OUR WYOMING ADVENTURE MAP
1 | The Red Desert
While some may think of Wyoming as one big empty wasteland (which is completely untrue) it does in fact have an actual desert (with the largest living dune system in the United States to boot). Located in the southern part of the state, near the town of Rock Springs, the Red Desert is a high-altitude desert and sagebrush steppe. Even though there is not much water to speak of in the desert, it somehow supports the largest migratory herd of pronghorns in the lower 48 states and even a rare desert elk herd (possibly the world's largest).
One of the coolest things to see in the Red Desert is the Killpecker Dunes, the aforementioned largest living dune system that stretches 55 miles across the Continental Divide and encompasses approximately 109,000 acres.
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2 | Sinks Canyon State Park
Located six miles southwest of the town of Lander, along Highway 131, Sinks Canyon State Park is home to a unique geologic phenomenon where the Popo Agie River vanishes into a large cavern, known as The Sinks, before reappearing into a trout-filled pool, known as The Rise, about half a mile down canyon.
Besides checking out the Sinks, you can also go hiking, camping, rock climbing, and fishing. Or keep heading up the road to explore some mountain lakes, including picturesque Louis Lake.
3 | Island Lake
One of the toughest places to get to on this list, but 100% worth the adventure, Island Lake sits high up in the Wind River Range near the town of Pinedale. While you can do the whole hike up to the lake in one veeerry long day (it is 12.1 miles one-way) many people instead choose to make it a backpacking trip and spend a day or two getting to the lake, and then a couple of days exploring the backcountry that surrounds it.
While this spot might be one of the more rugged places on this list, it is also somewhat popular. If you are looking for other hikes that might be less busy, then consider checking out the Cirque of the Towers Loop or the Hailey Pass-Washakie Loop.
4 | Dubois
A fun little mountain town at the base of the Bridger-Teton Mountains, Dubois was originally supposed to be called “Never Sweat” but because the postal service didn’t like it, they instead changed it to Dubois after an Idaho Senator (the townspeople protested by changing the pronunciation, that’ll show them).
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While the town of Dubois is rather small (population: 971), it has had its fair share of celebrities, including being the one-time home of train robber and outlaw Butch Cassidy. Today, many people spend summers in its nearby mountains and historic dude ranches. You can also visit the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, which focuses on educating the public about the biology and habitat of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, and specifically on the largest herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep that winter in the area.
💬 INSIDER TIP: Dubois is a great basecamp option if you are looking to explore the surrounding mountains - including Grand Teton National Park (located about an hour away) and the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
5 | Sundance
High up in the northeastern corner of the state and nestled into the Black Hills is a town that is today famous for giving one kid a name: the infamous outlaw, the Sundance Kid.
History states that the aforementioned outlaw (real name Harry Alonzo Longabaugh) took his nickname from the small town of Sundance after being jailed there at the age of 15 for stealing a horse (the first of many run-ins with the law while a part of the Wild Bunch Gang led by none other than Butch Cassidy).
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: Robert Redford, who played the Sundance Kid in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, named the film festival he created (The Sundance Film Festival) also after the famous outlaw.
One of the biggest draws of the town is its proximity to Devils Tower, the first national monument and a sacred place to 20 Native American Tribes. But the town of Sundance itself also offers adventures for all four seasons, a lively downtown, and many restaurants and bars.
6 | Sheridan
Sometimes referred to as Wyoming’s “Emerald City” the town of Sheridan is what many hope to experience when they vacation out West. With a history dotted with famous cowboys and outlaws and new railroads bringing in business and coal mining, the town is quintessential Wyoming. But, unlike really any other town in the state, the town of Sheridan can also boast that they have hosted royalty.