Wyoming offers visitors and residents alike opportunities to discover the wonders of its wilderness areas and iconic landmarks. Awe-inspiring canyon walls, rock formations seemingly from another world, jagged peaks, and colorful pools remain relatively untouched within the borders of the state. The state is also home to the world’s first national park, the famous Yellowstone, along with the country’s first national monument and eleven national monuments, trails, and areas.
1. Bear River State Park
The Bear River State Park near Evanston, Wyoming is a small park of only a little more than 320 acres and is open for day-use only. The grounds are home to some small herds of elk and bison and include numerous miles of both packed gravel and paved trails. The Visitor Center at the park houses several wildlife displays showcasing the impressive variety of wildlife in Wyoming. There are almost three miles of trails for mountain biking and hiking use that connect with the Bear Project, Evanston’s greenbelt project. Picnic tables, restrooms, grills, drinking water, and bus parking are available.
601 Bear River Dr, Evanston, WY 82930
2. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
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The Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area preserves a wild and vast landscape that provides visitors with unmatched opportunity for immersion into the area’s natural world. Boasting more than 120,000 acres, Bighorn Canyon is home to an impressive diversity of wildlife and ecosystems, as well as over 10,000 years of history of humankind to explore. There are fifteen trails for hiking throughout the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Areas covering seventeen miles. The North District contains three trails, two of which are easy and one moderate, and the South District has twelve trails. There are also boating, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities.
20 U.S. 14, Lovell, WY 82431, Phone: 307-548-5406
3. Boysen State Park
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The Wind River Indian Reservation surrounds Wyoming’s Boysen State Park, which offers visitors opportunities for fishing, including ice fishing, and camping. There are both overnight and day-use camping facilities and the Boysen Reservoir is famous as one of the state’s best trout and walleye fisheries. The reservoir is typically warm enough during much of the season for many different water sports, such as water skiing, and the park also contains a swimming beach that’s easily accessible on the eastern shore. A marina and concessions can be found at the lake’s north end, offering fishing licenses, boat fuel, and food.
120 Boysen Dr, Shoshoni, WY 82649, Phone: 307-876-2796
4. Buffalo Bill State Park
The Buffalo Bill State Park features a scenery dominated by the grand peaks of Wyoming’s Absaroka Mountains. The park, along with the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center with interactive exhibits, is located approximately six miles westward from Cody, Wyoming. Surrounded by the majestic mountain scenery, the Buffalo Bill State Park provides opportunities for trout fishing, picnicking, and camping and is home to the state’s premier reservoir for windsurfing. The Trout Creek Nature Trail is a quarter-mile trail in the North Fork Campground, while the Eagle Point Trail is a handicapped-accessible trail in the park’s Eagle Point Day Use Area.
4192 Northfork Hwy, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 307-587-9227
5. Curt Gowdy State Park
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The Curt Gowdy State Park is situated only about twenty-four miles to the west from the capital city of Cheyenne and the same distance to the east from the city of Laramie. The state park is made up of seven different areas of landscape that is richly varied, and fauna and flora decorate the Laramie Mountains’ foothills. Three reservoirs provide excellent fishing opportunities for kokanee salmon and rainbow trout, in addition to enough space for participating in water sports. Curt Gowdy State Park has a few campgrounds. The Aspen Grove Campgrounds includes a public horse corral that’s free to use.
1264 Granite Springs Rd, Cheyenne, WY 82009, Phone: 307-632-7946
6. Devils Tower
The Devils Tower is a fascinating geological feature jutting out from the prairie that surrounds the Black Hills. The tower is considered to be a sacred site by the indigenous people and Northern Plains Indians. Parallel cracks numbering in the hundreds make the Devils Tower one of North America’s finest areas for crack climbing. The Devils Tower National Monuments is open to visitors year-round, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, and the visitor center is open nearly every day. There are also hiking trails available, as well as a campground open from May until October.
WY-110, Devils Tower, WY 82714, Phone: 307-467-5283
7. Edness Kimball Wilkins Park
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The Edness Kimball Wilkins Park is only six miles away from the city of Casper, Wyoming and is well known for being a perfect destination for a picnic. Numerous cottonwood trees provide shade for more than forty picnic spot, many of which are just a short distance from the park’s swimming pond. Horseshoe pits and volleyball nets welcome picnickers to play some games. There is also a 2.8-mile trails that travels along the historic North Platte River, offering a good opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Edness Kimball Wilkins Park is also one of the state’s important bird areas.
8700 East Highway 20/26, Evansville, WY 82636, Phone: 307-577-5150
8. Fossil Butte
The Fossil Butte National Monument is home to some of the best preserved fossils in the world within the flat-topped ridges of the cold sagebrush desert of southwest Wyoming. The fossilized mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and fishes found at Fossil Butte are noted for their detail of preservation, variety, and abundance. The story these fossils tell of the ancient life within a subtropical landscape is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the fossils at the site. Visitors can check out exhibits at the visitor center, attend Ranger programs, go for a hike or a scenic drive, have a picnic, and more.
864 Chicken Creek Rd, Kemmerer, WY 83101, Phone: 307-877-4455
9. Glendo State Park
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The Glendo State Park is often considered to be a paradise for outdoor recreation, consisting of around twenty-two thousand acres on Wyoming’s eastern plains. The park is well known for having excellent opportunities for boating, with plenty of room for both fishing and water skiing. While Glendo State Park is best known for water sports, visitors can still find many things to do without a boat. There are twenty-one campgrounds, providing a total of 568 campsites. The park offers a little bit of everything, from a sandy beach setting to its mountain feel to starry night skies.
397 Glendo Park Rd, Glendo, WY 82213, Phone: 307-735-4433
10. Grand Teton National Park
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The Grand Teton National Park is home to the Teton Range, which rises above a scenic landscape full of alpine terrain, pristine lakes, and extraordinary wildlife. Visitors will find several outdoor recreational activities at the national park. The summer offers hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, rock climbing, photography, backpacking, biking, canoeing, floating, boating, swimming, and fishing, while snowshoeing and skiing are popular activities during the winter season. There are more than 200 miles of trails throughout the park. Some activities in the Grand Teton National Park require registration, licenses, permits, or fees, such as snowmobiling, fishing, boating, and overnight backpacking.
103 Headquarters Loop, Moose, WY 83012, Phone: 307-739-3399
11. Guernsey State Park
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One of the most popular activities at the Guernsey State Park is camping, offering visitors wanting to stay overnight in the park with seven campgrounds, five of which are located around the lake. Each of these campgrounds include drinking water, fire grills, picnic tables, and comfort stations. There is also a trailer dump station at the park’s south entrance. The Guernsey State Park is also a great place for hiking, with an extensive trail network, which begins at the Brimmer Point turnoff. This trail system is made up of a number of loops providing an array of scenic views.
2187 Lakeside Shore Dr, Guernsey, WY 82214, Phone: 307-836-2900
12. Hawk Springs State Recreation Area
The Hawk Springs State Recreation Area is a rather small recreation area established and managed by the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails Division. The recreation area is popular for camping and contains twenty-four primitive campsites, a playground, restrooms, a boat dock, a boat launching ramp, fire rings, and picnic tables. Potable water hydrants near the campsites are operated seasonally. Water based activities are the main reason why many people come to the Hawk Springs State Recreation Area, including swimming, fishing, and boating. The area has long been a popular fishing destination along the state of Wyoming’s southeastern border.
La Grange, WY 82221, Phone: 307-836-2334
13. Hot Springs State Park
The Hot Springs State Park features 6.2 miles of hiking trails and universally accessible trails, along with its free bath house with water maintained at perfect therapeutic bathing temperature of 104 degrees. The full-service park also contains a boat ramp, fishing opportunities, a volksmarch trail, comfort stations, and group picnic shelters that can be reserved. Hot Springs State Park is a day-use park, so no camping is available. Besides the hot springs, many people come to the park to see the bison, including the chance to see them up-close during their feeding time in the morning.
220 Park St, Thermopolis, WY 82443, Phone: 307-864-2176
14. Independence Rock State Historic Site
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The Independence Rock State Historic Site is also called the Register of the Desert due to the over five thousand names that are part of the site’s pioneering history. One of the large granite rock’s earliest carved signatures was M.K. Hugh in 1824. This rock got its name after a celebration on Independence Day with William Sublette and eighty other pioneers. The name “Independence Rock” stuck and then became a goal and landmark of over 550,000 travelers heading west. Several trails allow visitors to explore the rock and discover the numerous names carved into it by past travelers.
WY-220, Alcova, WY 82620, Phone: 307-577-5150
15. Keyhole State Park
The Keyhole State Park provides visitors with opportunities for fishing, bird watching, water skiing, boating, hiking, and swimming. Some of the largest fish in the state of Wyoming have been caught in the park. The three group shelters in Keyhole State Park can be reserved for company picnics, family gatherings, weddings, and other special events. Located at the west edge of the state’s Black Hills between Moorcroft and Sundance off of I-90, the state park offers ten different campgrounds for campers to choose from. The Tatanka Campground allows visitors to reserve their campsite in advance.
22 Marina Rd, Moorcroft, WY 82721, Phone: 307-756-3596
16. Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site
The Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site is around a four-hundred-meter site in length near a vertical cliff with over ninety-two prehistoric panels and more than three hundred petroglyph figures. While the Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site may not be promoted extensively, Legend Rock is already a petroglyph site renowned worldwide and is one of the region’s sacred sites for Native Americans for thousands of years. The Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site now has a picnic shelter, interpretive trails, and a visitor center. The site is one of the Wyoming State Parks system’s most fragile sites.
220 Park St, Thermopolis, WY 82443, Phone: 307-864-3192
17. Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest
The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest encompasses sections of five of Wyoming’s major mountain ranges, from snowy ranges to canyons and valleys to high, vast and open expanses. Within these mountain ranges are dramatic contrasts in topography and national forests along either side of the country’s Continental Divide. The national forest provides a forested ecology mix with shrub lands, aspen, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, and spruce. Visitors may catch a glimpse of sheep or cattle grazing even today. Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, along with the Thunder Basin National Grassland, support the area’s tourism and quality of life.
2468 Jackson St, Laramie, WY 82070, Phone: 307-745-2300
18. Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site
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The Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site features over ten thousand years of cultural, rich history among the nearly endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. The site offers some of the best opportunities for adventure and wildlife viewing in the state of Wyoming and has long been well known for its Native American pictographs and petroglyphs. There are also twenty-five camping areas at the Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site with vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire grills. The site also includes a nature trail and a visitor center. The area is home to a variety of wildlife, such as mountain lions, bobcats, prairie dogs, and porcupines.
4800 Co Rd 52, Hyattville, WY 82428, Phone: 307-469-2234
19. Names Hill State Historic Site
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The Names Hill State Historic Site is situated near La Barge, Wyoming along US 189. The historical site is interpreted, maintained, and overseen by the Fort Bridger State Historic Site. Names Hill is a notable site along the famous Oregon-California Trail on which emigrants carved names into the site’s soft limestone after they crossed the Green River. The historic site along the cliffs above the Green River is one of the Oregon Trail’s three locations where emigrants carved their names, registering their presence. The earliest carved names at the Names Hill State Historic Site date back to the year 1822.
US-189, Kemmerer, WY 83101, Phone: 307-782-3842
20. Piedmont Charcoal Kilns State Historic Site
The Piedmont Charcoal Kilns State Historic Site is located on the outskirts of Piedmont, Wyoming, one of the state’s ghost towns. The Union Pacific Railroad once passes through the town of Piedmont, carrying the majority of the charcoal made by the kilns to the state of Utah. The Piedmont Charcoal Kilns State Historic Site today contains three and a half charcoal kilns, two picnic tables, and four interpretive signs. Only three of Piedmont’s original forty kilns still remain at the site. The kilns were built by Moses Byrne back in 1869 in order to supply charcoal to Utah’s iron smelting industry.
Co Rd 173, Evanston, WY 82930, Phone: 307-782-3842
21. Point of Rocks Stage Station State Historic Site
The Point of Rocks Stage Station State Historic Site is the site of the Point of Rocks Stage Station constructed back in 1862. The station was built after Stagecoach King Ben Holladay was prompted by Indian raids to move his overland stage line to the Overland Trail route in what is today’s southern Wyoming from the Oregon Trail-South Pass. The structure is now one of the Overland Trail’s only remaining intact stage stations. The State of Wyoming acquired the Point of Rocks Stage Station in 1947 and was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Black Buttes Rd, Point Of Rocks, WY 82901, Phone: 307-332-3688
22. Register Cliff State Historic Site
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The Register Cliff State Historic Site is a sandstone cliff rising approximately 100 feet up from the valley floor along the North Platte River. Despite the erosion by water and wind, the cliff still looks much the way it did to travelers along the Oregon Trail over a century ago. Of the three sites along the famous Oregon Trail on which emigrants carved their names, Register Cliff is the site closed to civilization. Much of the inscriptions at the Register Cliff State Historic Site were carved during the trail’s peak years of people traveling during the 1840’s and the 1850’s.
501 Whalen St, Guernsey, WY 82214, Phone: 307-836-2334
23. Seminoe State Park
The Seminoe State Park is surrounded by the Seminoe Mountains and was a gold prospecting site during the latter part of the 1800’s. This state park offers facilities for hikers, campers, picnickers, boaters, and anglers. Seminoe is one of the state of Wyoming’s largest man-made reservoirs, the largest of the state’s park system, and has around 180 miles of shoreline. The North Red Hills Camping area includes boat launches, play areas, a dump station, drinking water, and thirty campsites. The Sunshine Beach Camping area has twenty-two sites and two shelters. The Sand Mountain area provides access to a large beach.
County Road 351, Sinclair, WY 82334, Phone: 307-320-3013
24. Sinks Canyon State Park
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The Sinks Canyon State Park is situated within the west central region of the state of Wyoming, south from the town of Lander. Located within the Wind River Mountains, the park land is along the Popo Agie River’s middle fork. This state park gets its name from the distinctive geological phenomena of the river disappearing into the limestone cavern and then reappears around one-fourth of a mile down the canyon into a pool full of rainbow trout. There are an array of natural habitats, along with opportunities for mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, fishing, camping, and nature photography.
3079 Sinks Canyon Rd, Lander, WY 82520, Phone: 307-332-6333
25. Yellowstone National Park
The Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the United States, and with good reason. It is the first national park worldwide. Visitors can marvel at the hidden power of a volcano rising up in geysers, mudpots, and colorful hot springs, along with exploring lakes, forests, and mountains to see the natural world unfold and watch wildlife if they’re lucky enough to spot the animals. Yellowstone is two million acres of an unmatched combination of abundant wildlife, majestic peaks, rugged wilderness, and natural beauty, in addition to the largest concentration of thermal features and geysers in the world.
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168, Phone: 307-344-7381
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Attraction Spotlight: Fossil Butte National Monument
Also known as the “Aquarium in Stone,” the Fossil Butte National Monument in Kemmerer, Wyoming is well known for having some of the world’s most preserved fossil specimens. Considered by many to be one of the most important sites of its type, it is an educational and eye-opening experience. The fossils were originally discovered by miners who were digging to find the town of Fossil, Wyoming in the late 1800s.
The national monument was created in 1972 to promote and protect the paleontological heritage of Fossil Butte. Today, less than 2% of the premises of Fossil Lake is managed and protected by the National Park Services, which makes the national monument more important than ever.
What makes the fossils so extraordinary is the unparalleled quality of their preservation. It is said to be a result of a combination of factors like the type of lake sediment present (fine grained and quiet water) and the fact that the water conditions present excluded scavengers. This means that the fossils were preserved in an articulated form (meaning that all of the bones are still in place instead of being scattered).
The fossils are divided into categories. Guests should try to see as many as possible. Below are the categories and some of the highlights.
Fish - Fossils of fish are the most common find at Fossil Butte. In fact, there have been 27 different species that have been discovered there! Among the diverse species of fish fossils are two stingray species (Heliobatis radians and Asterotrygon maloneyi), a Paddlefish species (Crossopholis magnicaudatus), and more.
Mammal - Not the most frequently found fossil but possibly one of the most important (as they help explain not only the environment but also the biodiversity present over 52 million years ago). There have been two bat species, two different odd-toed ungulates/hoofed mammals, and more.
Reptile - 15 different types of reptile species have been found at Fossil Butte, including a snake species called Boavus idelmani, two crocodiles, three lizards, and eight turtles.
Amphibian - Although only two different amphibian species have been identified onsite, they are still an important part of discovering history. The two species found are a species of frog called the Aerugoamnis paulus and an aquatic salamander called the Paleoamphiuma tetradactylum.
Arthropod - These creatures are also known as invertebrates (species without a backbone/spine that have an external skeleton, segmented bodies, and jointed appendages). Shrimp (Bechleja rostrata), Crayfish (Procambarus primaevus), and many different types of dragonflies and damselflies have been found at Fossil Butte.
Plant - Several plant species have been identified on site, which are helpful because they help determine the climate at the time the fossil was created. It is, however, difficult to be able to differentiate species type due to how they decay. A few of the species found on site are Gyrocarpus and the Palmites species of Palm.
Bird - There have been over 30 species of bird fossils found at Fossil Butte as well, belonging to more than 20 different bird families. Some of the species found are the Shoreline Bird (Pseudocrypturus cercanaxius) and four different species of Parrots.
Children are welcomed at the national monument, and there are several activities that have been designed specifically for them.
Fossil Quarry - Offered in the summer on Fridays and Saturdays, children can help the staff look for fossils at the research quarry. Although they cannot keep any found fossils (however, fossil rubbings are encouraged), they still will gain a larger understanding of fossils and the scientific information that is collected from finding them. Children should make sure to wear comfortable shoes as there is a half mile hike to get to the site.
Junior Ranger - The junior ranger program is a favorite of many of the children who visit. Even for those who cannot visit, the national monument teams with the park service to offer a Web ranger program so no one feels left out. For those that can visit, the junior ranger program takes around an hour to complete and is free of charge. Children who complete it will receive their very own junior ranger park badge!
While visiting the national monument, make sure to check out the bookstore and take home not only a souvenir of the visit but also something to help better understand fossils! There are also stuffed animals, apparel (t-shirts, hats, etc) and other gift items that help support the care and maintenance of the monument.
Fossil Butte National Monument, 864 Chicken Creek Road, Kemmerer, WY, 83101, Phone: 307-877-4455
More Things to Do in Wyoming