One thing you won't find in Wyoming are bustling metropolises – the largest city, Cheyenne, has just 65,000 residents. But if you’re searching for a touch of the West – wide-open spaces, tall peaks, Native American history, wildlife, geysers, hot springs, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, fly-fishing and staged “gunslinger duels” – you’ll find it, along with plenty of small-town charm.
Different parts of the state feature different types attractions, from ski-town Jackson Hole to college-town Laramie and outdoor-icon Lander. Pick your destination – or opt for a few – and explore the best of Wyoming.
Yellowstone National Park
Best national park for geysers, wildlife
Yellowstone is not only the country's first national park, it’s also packed with over 10,000 hydrothermal features, gorgeous scenery, and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Walk the boardwalks and peer into colorful multi-hued hydrothermal features, watch geysers erupt, and spend some time gazing at boiling mud – it’s far more mesmerizing than you would expect.
Old Faithful’s eruptions are so predictable that the park puts out a schedule of predicted eruption times for the iconic geyser and a few others. Be sure to show up early, though, since the predictions are just estimates, and you wouldn’t want to be a minute late.
Spend some time in wildlife hotspots like Lamar and Hayden valleys – dawn and dusk are considered prime time for wildlife viewing, though you can often spot some critters in Yellowstone – like bison herds – throughout the day.
Grand Teton National Park
Best national park for hiking
Pull on your pack, clip your bear spray to your belt and get ready to hike. Grand Teton National Park is a favorite destination for trail lovers, encompassing great options for everything from an hour-long stroll to a multi-day hard-core adventure. For a scenic day hike, consider Jenny Lake, or hike up one of the park’s mountain canyons.
To snag an overnight backcountry permit, try for an advanced permit months ahead of time, or try for a first-come, first-serve permit, available in-person a day before the trip begins – competition for permits can be fierce, so have a backup plan.
Be well-prepared and equipped for any hike in the park, and check current conditions and weather, keeping in mind that mountain conditions can change very quickly. Be prepared for wildlife encounters, and practice good bear safety.
Best town for skiers
Receiving over 500 inches of snow per year – which blankets some of the best terrain in the world – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is on every avid skier’s bucket list. Get a reservation early and spend days cruising down the groomers or getting fresh powder turns out in Teton Village. Or stay in town and try out Jackson’s “Town Hill” – Snow King Mountain Resort – which is walkable from town.
Like any good ski town, Jackson also offers plenty of top-notch aprés-ski selections. Check out Teton Village’s range of options, from the Alpenhof to the Mangy Moose – where you can often catch live music – or venture into the town of Jackson to check out the Snake River Brewery, and other spots.
Best place to learn about the past
Spread across five different museums and a research library, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West tells the beautiful, grand and often chaotic story of the American West. All five museums are worth a visit, but if you're short on time, be sure to visit the Plains Indian Museum to learn about the Indigenous people who lived here long before Europeans arrived.
Founded in 1979, the museum showcases the Plains Indian peoples' rich cultures, histories, traditions and what their lives look like today. Peruse both historical artifacts, like an authentic buffalo hide tipi from around 1850, and contemporary works from local artists.
Cody is also home to the Plains Indian Powwow, which generally takes place in June.
The center’s other museums include the Buffalo Bill Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, and Cody Firearms Museum.
Best place for guest ranches
With fewer than 1000 residents, Dubois is tiny, but it’s one of the best places in the state to sign up for a week-long stay at one of the nearby guest or “dude” ranches. Experience life on the ranch, saddle up to explore, cast a fishing line, or sign up for a multi-day horsepacking trip deep into the wilderness.
In town, swing by the Dubois Museum, National Museum of Military Vehicles, and the National Bighorn Sheep Center, and be sure to check out the Dubois Friday Night Rodeo in the summer. Grab a deli sandwich, a slice of pizza, or even a steak in town, before heading out to immerse yourself in the world of ranching.
Best place to enjoy hot springs
Best known for its hot springs, Thermopolis is a must-visit soaking paradise great for couples, groups, solo travelers and families. Opt for a relaxing soak at Hot Springs State Park’s bathhouse or get ready for some hot springs water park action at Star Plunge, which has water slides, pools, and even a “vapor cave,” a natural steam room.
Thermopolis has more to offer than hot springs, though. Hike six miles of trails at the state park, visit the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, or hire a guide for a fishing trip or sign up for a horseback riding tour. Unwind or find the action – it’s all up to you.
Best outdoorsy town
Lander is home to the headquarters of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), so it’s no surprise there are lots of great outdoor adventures nearby. The town is full of people who are involved with NOLS in one way or another, and you’ll find no shortage of outdoor enthusiasts eager to climb some rock, go for a mountain bike ride, or scale a peak. And with Sinks Canyon State Park just down the road, you’ll find plenty of places to play.
After a day out and about, settle into town for a fun evening. Lander Brewing Company is a favorite spot to rehash the day’s adventures while sipping a pint of Rock Chuck Rye or Half-Tanked Hefe.
Best college town vibe
Laramie is home not only to the University of Wyoming and Cowboys football, but also to the country’s highest elevation Division 1 stadium, at a sky-high 7220ft.
This vibrant college town always has some sort of event, party, live music, art walk, farmers market or other activity going on that keeps you hopping around town. Don’t miss Laramie Jubilee Days in July.
Laramie also has one of the most diverse food scenes in the state, with an array of cuisines including Indian, Mexican, Italian, Thai, and Japanese. Find a coffee shop perfect for studying or cozying up with a good book, and drop by one of the many local watering holes to watch a game or just hang out.
Best place for a classic Wyoming experience
Cheyenne isn’t just Wyoming’s capital city – it also occupies a special place in every country music lover’s heart. From George Strait’s “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” to Garth Brooks’ “The Beaches of Cheyenne,” the city keeps coming up in country music, decade after decade, for a reason. Head to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum for a touch of rodeo history or visit during rodeo season to see what all the fuss is about. If you're there during the rodeo, check out the “Indian Village” where Native American performers have shared dance, culture and music each year since 1898.
Cheyenne is rich in history, so be sure to spend some time immersing yourself in local lore and history at the Wyoming State Capitol, Wyoming Historic Governors Mansion, Cheyenne Depot Museum for railroad history. The Nelson Museum of the West showcases a number of Native American exhibits, including Art of the Pueblo Indians and Art of the Plains Indians. In summer, head to “Gunslinger Square” downtown to watch a staged Wild West gunfight, and hop on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley to learn all about Wild West history.
All around Cheyenne, you’ll see 8ft-tall “Big Boots” on display. These large-scale creations are custom-designed by a variety of Wyoming artists as pieces of public art.
Best fly-fishing town
A river town through and through, Casper is known for its top-notch fly-fishing. Venture out to the “Miracle Mile” for trout, or stay in town and fish the North Platte River as it runs through Casper. While the North Platte is a blue-ribbon fishing destination, you can also cast your rod in other waters nearby, including Alcova Reservoir and Fremont Canyon. Stop by a fly shop to learn about local conditions or hire a guide to make your day out fishing even better.
Stop by the Fort Caspar Museum and Historic Site, National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, and Salt Creek Museum to learn more about local history, or visit the Casper Planetarium for a peek out into the cosmos. With half a dozen breweries, Casper has earned a spot on the Wyoming Beer Trail, and Gruner Brothers Brewing offers tours for a peek behind the scenes.