There is a lot of “I” in our world from pads to phones to pods and while one need not abandon devices of choice during a Wyoming journey, all that’s really required is a spirit of adventure. And that doesn’t come in a box with undecipherable directions. No App can compare to watching, feeling and smelling Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park. You have to be there. In Wyoming it isn’t a question of “I” rather the eye. Much of what you see won’t soon be forgotten. Australian Ian Batchelor was in the midst of a driving tour in northern Wyoming last summer. He and his wife had the day before gone over Togwotee Pass between the town of Dubois and Moran Junction. One of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world stood nearly in sight.
“I will die with the memory of when I first saw the Grand Tetons through the trees. Absolutely gobsmacked,” Batchelor beamed. Should you need to Google “gobsmacked” it is there defined as a slang term for astounded, speechless and overawed. Sounds about right.
We met the Aussie visitor at a rodeo in Thermopolis. Wyoming’s official sport is a must-stop for your trip to the “Cowboy State.” There are nightly shows in Cody the entire summer. Ranch and rodeo people in Jackson, Dubois and Pine Bluffs stage weekly affairs throughout the summer and just about every Wyoming town’s big summer event is built around rodeo.
The national parks adorning Wyoming’s northwest corner are the crown jewels of a system that prides itself on offering a bargain to Americans already strapped for cash. It’s just $25 a carload and the entrance charge allows for seven days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
Cody is about an hour east of Yellowstone and in addition to the nightly rodeo there are entertaining options such as Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue and incredibly immersive tours of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Allow a long day and possibly two for the center where a newly re-installed Buffalo Bill Museum wing opens this summer. There are five living museums that comprise the center to make it well deserving of a “Smithsonian of the West” reference. Your entrance ticket is good for two days.
Not far from Cody you do not want to miss the new Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center near Powell and the Washakie County Museum and Cultural Center in Worland. Years of work by dedicated people have resulted in the opening of these two magnificently well-defined facilities.
The long valley south of Wyoming’s national parks is known as Jackson Hole where everything from a family bonding dude ranch stay to live classical music at the Grand Teton Music Festival embodies vacation fun like no other place.
All along your Wyoming road gallop don’t be too surprised by a friendly hand gesture and tip of the hat from that fellow in an approaching pick-up adorned with distinctive bucking horse and rider license plates. We appreciate each and every one of you who choose to bring your family to see our special places.
Perhaps the search for wild animals is atop your list of Wyoming to-dos. Try to hit the highway shortly after dawn or at dusk for the best viewing opportunities. From the pronghorn antelope near Gillette in Campbell County to the bison of Yellowstone, there are numerous animal options. Wild horses range in several locations close to roads in Sweetwater County in the south and near Lovell in the north. I was awestricken and could not stop smiling after spotting a very large herd of elk cavorting just off Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie a few months back.
After 30 years of driving Wyoming stretches you’d think there would be few eye-openers for me. Quite the opposite is true. The thrill of pulling off the road west of Sheridan in the Bighorn Mountains last spring to view and listen to a moose crunch brunch was still as magical as any moment I’ve savored touring this 98,000 square miles of the American West.
“We made our own fun, and had plenty of it,” wrote the late sportscaster extraordinaire Curt Gowdy when recalling his youth in Green River and Cheyenne, WY. The great thing about Wyoming is you can still have plenty of fun and the horns you’ll hear honking are trumpeter swans, not the angry driver behind you.
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By Curtis Scott