5 Best Wyoming National and State Parks (2023)
The beautiful Cowboy State of Wyoming is known for its rugged landscape, wide-open spaces, the Wild West, and some of the most incredible national and state parks in the United States. Wyoming is the state where you get to discover some of the biggest wonders of nature and wilderness amidst some iconic landmark parks. With awe-inspiring canyon walls, rock formations that seem to be from another planet altogether, and untouched colorful pools, Wyoming is home to some of the best national and state parks in the country. It is also home to the world’s first national park, the renowned Yellowstone.
Best Wyoming National and State Parks
If you want to explore the beauty of Wyoming through these untouched natural spaces, here are the best state and national parks that you simply cannot miss while in Wyoming.
1. Yellowstone National Park
Without a doubt, the most famous park in Wyoming is the Yellowstone National Park. 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 the Yellowstone National Park. 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 top-rated tourist attractions at the park include Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful geyser, and the breathtaking cascades of Lower Falls.
While at the park, the first place you must check out is the Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the star attraction of the Midway Geyser Basin. The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the entire United States and also the third-largest in the world. It is also one of the most unique natural wonders on earth. You will easily recognize the grand Prismatic Spring as it is one of the most photographed landmarks of the Yellowstone National Park. The Grand Prismatic Spring is deeper than a ten-story building and bigger than a football field. The riot of colors you see at the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is from the different species of heat-loving bacteria that live around the place. From the deep center, you will find a beautiful hue of blue, followed by green and yellow tings, and then a lot of orange to make up the outskirts.
Another remarkable landmark of the Yellowstone National Park is the Old Faithful Geyser. This is an absolute visit when you are in the park. It is the most famous one out of the approximately 500 geysers in the park. Old Faithful was also one of the first geysers to receive a name. It was named during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition in 1870, following which the park was established in 1872.
The Old Faithful Geyser has been ‘faithful’ since the last 150 years. It erupts in around intervals of 90 minutes, and it is one of the only geysers in the park that can easily be seen in action. However, it is important to be patient and keep waiting. The eruption usually lasts long enough for you to take plenty of pictures while admiring its awe-inspiring eruption.
The Yellowstone National Park is one of the top 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 attraction 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. But those who manage to brave the winter chill, there are many unique and exciting opportunities that can be explored at the park in the winters. You get to also see a quieter side of this breathtakingly beautiful park as there is a sudden drop in the number of visitors the park sees as few travelers are able to brave the cold and snow. While the summer months see more than 800,000 visitors, the winter months witness just around 50,000 people at the park.
As mentioned, many of the park services are not open during the winter, and many roads are also closed to cars, allowing them to be used for recreation and by the wildlife. For many visitors, though, these challenges are nothing compared to the thought of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the foothills of the Tetons. Along with this, there is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see wolves, moose, and elk roaming around against the stunning, stark white backdrop.
3. Bear River State Park
The Bear River State Park is located near Evanston. While this is a small state park spread out over just a little more than 320 acres, it is nonetheless pretty popular with the crowds. The park remains open only in the daytime.
The Bear River State Park is home to several small herds of bison and elk, and you will find miles and miles of paved trails and packed gravel trails here. Don’t forget to check out the Visitor Center here, as you will find many wildlife displays that showcase the wide variety of wildlife in Wyoming.
For the adventure lovers, there are nearly three miles of trails here for hiking and mountain biking that connect to the Bear Project, which is Evanston Town’s greenbelt project. You can easily find picnic tables, grills, restrooms, drinking water, and even bus parking available at the park.
4. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Another breathtaking natural wonder, the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, was made to preserve this vast landscape that gives visitors the unique opportunity to take in this area’s natural world. Spread out over 120,000 acres, Bighorn Canyon is home to a wide range of wildlife and ecosystems.
For the nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts, there are 15 trails for hiking that crisscross through the Bighorn Canyon area and cover 17 miles in total. There are three trails in the North District, out of which two are easy, and one is of moderate difficulty. The South District has 12 trails. You can also indulge in kayaking, canoeing, and boating in this park.
5. Boysen State Park
The Wind River Indian Reservation surrounds the Boysen State Park in Wyoming. Visitors to this state park get ample opportunities for fishing and camping, including ice fishing in the winter. There are day-use and overnight camping facilities at the park, and the Boysen Reservoir is also famous for being one of the best trout and walleye fishing spots in all of Wyoming.
The reservoir remains warm enough for most of the fishing season to indulge in many water sports that are offered here, including water skiing. There is also a swimming beach inside the park, which can be accessed easily from the eastern shore. A marina and concessions are located at the northern end of the lake, where you can get fishing licenses, food, and even boat fuel.