7 Best Natural Wonders and Small Towns to Visit in Wyoming (2023)
One of the most attractive features of the beautiful state of Wyoming is its stunning natural beauty. Being home to two of the biggest national parks in the country – Yellowstone and Grand Teton – Wyoming is also home to six mountain ranges that surround the Big Horn Basin. It is the state’s incredible outdoors that attracts visitors all year round. There is no dearth of outdoor activities in Wyoming to include in your holiday itinerary, including rock climbing, hiking, mountain climbing, white water rafting, and skiing.
7 Best Natural Wonders and Small Towns to Visit in Wyoming
Here are some of the best natural wonders and small towns to check out in Wyoming:
1. Yellowstone National Park
No list of natural wonders in Wyoming can be complete without the mention of Yellowstone National Park, the most famous attraction of Wyoming.
The world-renowned Yellowstone National Park is the first and oldest national park in the world. Even today, it is one of the most awe-inspiring and stunning wilderness areas on the planet. Your vacation to Wyoming would not be complete without visiting this geological wonder. As you explore the park, you will get to see huge herds of bison roaming free in the valleys. The abundant wildlife includes gray wolves, elk, grizzly and black bears, majestic bald eagles, and trumpeter swans.
Established in 1872, the Yellowstone National Park is one of the biggest geothermal wonders in the world. You get to see hissing geysers, steaming hot springs, and bubbling mud pots that come forth from the staggering landscape formed millions of years ago. You get to see some of the most stunning waterfalls that come gushing down steep ravines and mesmerizing lakes and rivers that seem to stretch on for miles on end.
You can take a drive through the park, but the best way to explore the park is on foot through the huge network of hiking trails. This is the best way to see the park’s diverse ecosystem and experience the beautiful wilderness as you camp in one of the scenic camping grounds of the park.
Some of the other must-see places inside the park include the areas of Canyon Village, West Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lake Village, Norris, Old Faithful, Tower-Roosevelt, and the breathtaking cascades of Lower Falls. Apart from camping, there are many other activities that you can indulge in here, including hiking, boating, biking, skiing, fishing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.
Without a doubt, the Yellowstone National Park is one of the best places to visit in Wyoming, and you can visit the park all year round as each season paints the beautiful landscape in hues of different colors. However, summertime is the most popular tourist season.
2. Grand Teton National Park
Just after the magnificent Yellowstone National Park, the second most visited natural wonder in Wyoming is the Grand Teton National Park. Surrounded by the majestic peaks of the impressive Teton Mountain Range, the Grand Teton National Park is indeed one of the crowning jewels of Wyoming. The mountains, located in the northwest of the state, formed millions of years ago, with a fault in the earth’s crust giving in and creating 12 majestic peaks that reached heights of over 12,000 feet. The highest of these peaks is the Grand Teton, soaring 13,770 feet above sea level.
There is an abundance of wildlife here at the park, with over 60 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, and many freshwater fish. The park is a paradise for nature lovers, photographers, kayakers, hikers, and climbers.
The best way to explore the park and take in the spectacular scenery is by hiking the many trails and staying overnight at the many camping grounds located inside. It is best to avoid visiting in the winter months as many of the roads and access points are closed during the winters.
The beautiful town of Jackson is located at the height of over 6000 feet. At the center of the city is the George Washington Memorial Park, more popularly known as Town Square, which is one of the most easily recognized sights of Jackson, with its four arched elk antler entrances.
Apart from the many cafes, restaurants, spas, shops, and art galleries surrounding the park, you get to take part in carriage rides and even staged Old West shootouts. In the summertime, visitors can indulge in horse riding, biking, hiking, rock climbing, and many other exciting outdoor activities.
The mesmerizing Snake River runs through the town of Jackson, which opens up opportunities for fishing, kayaking, floating, and even white water rafting. During the winter months, visitors happily indulge in cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and downhill skiing.
The National Elk Refuge located here protects the biggest herd of wintering elk in the world, and during the season, you can even take a ride onboard horse-drawn sleighs right into the refuge to get a view of these gentle creatures from up close.
Camouflaged and hidden in the rocky hillside just south of Jackson is the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which is another top attraction of the town. The museum is home to over 4,000 paintings and many rotating exhibits.
Wyoming’s capital city, Cheyenne, is rich in history and culture. Visitors to the state capital should ideally start their trip from the historic Cheyenne Depot and Museum, which is a major tourist attraction, and also home to the city’s main Visitor Center. You can climb aboard the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley, which offers a complete narrated historical tour of the city.
Some of the other major hotspots around Cheyenne are the Curt Gowdy State Park (famous for trout and salmon fishing), the Cheyenne Botanical Gardens, and the Vedauwoo Recreation Area (perfect for hiking and biking between the many ancient rock formations).
While in Cheyenne, you should also check out the Terry Bison Ranch, Bit-O-Wyo Ranch trail rides, and cowboy dinner shows (which are a huge hit with visitors and spots fill up quickly), and for those who have some time on their hands, the best thing to do in Cheyenne is to participate in the ten-day-long Cheyenne Frontier Days outdoor rodeo to make it an experience of a lifetime.
The small and beautiful town of Cody is all about history, wildlife, and the rodeo. The city is named after William Cody, who was better known as Buffalo Bill, the founder of the town. The town of Cody takes great pride in being the founding town of Buffalo Bill, with a number of statues, museums, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center all built with the motive of reminding tourists of the town’s glorious past.
Cody is also known as being the rodeo capital of the world, and it plays host to many prestigious rodeos throughout the year. So you can plan your trip to coincide with one of these rodeo events.
The town is popular for the many outdoor activities you can enjoy here, including hiking, rafting, fishing, rock climbing, and camping. Ice climbing is a popular activity in the winter months.
Some of the stunning natural attractions in and around Cody include the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir, Absaroka Mountain Range, Heart Mountain in the Bighorn Basin, Beartooth Mountain Range, and the Yellowstone National Park.
As you explore Cody, you will be greeted with breathtaking scenery at every turn as the town is the gateway to the magnificent Yellowstone National Park. It is also the starting point of many scenic drives that take you along the Beartooth Highway. Cody is the town to visit to see Wyoming’s Wild West come alive.
6. Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis
One place you do not want to miss out on when you visit Wyoming is the Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis. Built around the largest single mineral hot spring in the world, the Hot Springs State Park is the perfect place for a relaxing soak in the steamy mineral water that gushes from the Big Spring. The water is channeled into quaint little bathhouses and maintained at a constant 104 degrees Fahrenheit. You can either soak in the warm waters indoors at the State Bath House, or you can choose to pick one of the two outdoor pools here.
Apart from the thermal pools of Thermopolis, the other big attraction in this town is dinosaurs. This has made Thermopolis a major attraction for families with young children. Visitors to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center get the opportunity to see one-of-a-kind dinosaur exhibits and even take part in some active dig sites that are located in the town. It is also possible to take part in digging with the Dig for a Day Program.
There are also several hiking trails that take you through petroglyphs, summer flower gardens, and the stunning rainbow Terrace, where water from another stream cascades into the Bighorn River. You can even see the beautiful sight of a herd of bison grazing in the hills.
7. Castle Gardens
Another wonderfully unique natural wonder in Wyoming that you must check out is the Castle Gardens. Located 45 miles east of Riverton, Castle Gardens serves as the perfect canvas for hundreds and hundreds of examples of Native American rock art known as petroglyphs. Over the years, the wind has eroded the sandstone outcroppings here and turned them into towers and turrets, giving the whole place an appearance like a stone fortress. Visitors can easily identify warriors, turtles, shields, and many other designs that have been carved and painted into the rock.