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The least populated state in America also happens to be one of the richest in terms of unspoiled wilderness. Home to two famous national parks, Wyoming is a land of incredibly diverse landscapes — from the geothermal geysers of Yellowstone National Park to the jagged peaks of Grand Teton. It’s also home to an abundance of wildlife such as bears, bison, elk, and coyotes, who roam the vast plains and forests that cover much of the state. These features make Wyoming a magnet for outdoor adventure-seekers pursuing hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.
The spirit of the Wild West is also alive and well in the Cowboy State, with ranching playing an important part of Wyoming’s history and culture. Visit one of the many dude ranches and join in the fishing, camping, and horseback riding. Even Wyoming’s cities are a combination of Old West and cosmopolitan vibes. The two largest, Cheyenne and Casper, offer plenty of opportunities to look back to a time of cow herding and bronco busting, and Jackson Hole is a world-class ski town with an après-ski cocktail scene to match.
Although Wyoming has 42 airports, the only international one is the Casper-Natrona County International Airport (CPR). Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is the busiest airport in the state, offering easy access to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. For those looking to explore Wyoming’s nature and small towns, renting a car is necessary — but make sure to book it well in advance during peak season. If you’re only planning to visit Jackson or Cheynne, you can skip the car rental, as It’s feasible to navigate by bus, shuttle, and bikeshare. There are a few important tips to keep in mind while driving in Wyoming: Gas stations can be far and few in between.cell service can be spotty, so download maps beforehand. And keep an eye out for wildlife crossing, especially at dusk or dawn.
Peak travel season is from June to September, when summer’s warm weather and long days offer ample time for exploring Wyoming’s famed national parks and natural wonders. July and August see the thickest crowds at the parks, and it’s wise to book lodging nearly nine months in advance if you plan to visit during that time. For thinner crowds, come during fall. Autumn brings mild-to-chilly weather, but the upside is easy access to national parks; it’s also the perfect time to tour the state’s scenic byways and admire its blazing foliage. Winter is generally the least popular month for visitors, but you wouldn’t guess it from the packed slopes in Jackson. When the snow melts in spring, the landscape bursts with wildflowers and Wyoming’s wildlife emerges from hibernation.
Yellowstone National Park has the distinction as the first national park in the world, established in 1872. The park is chock-full of highlights. Walk along the boardwalk trails in the Upper Geyser Basin, where you’ll find the Old Faithful Geyser. On the east side of Terrace Mountain, Mammoth Hot Springs is the best place to see travertine terraces. Lamar Valley is home to an abundance of wildlife, including elk, coyote, and bison.
This striking granite formation, located in the northeastern corner of Wyoming, is a sacred site for Northern Plains American Indian tribes. Its sheer walls are also a popular challenge for climbers. The surrounding flats are full of prairie dogs and threaded through with hiking trails. In the air, there’s plenty of birdlife to spot, too. Nighttime tip: Joyner Ridge is the best place to go stargazing.
On the western banks of the Bighorn River, just outside of Thermopolis town center, is Hot Springs State Park. It’s best known for its bathhouse and stunning terraces that are naturally fed by hot (128 degrees Fahrenheit) water. Aside from relaxing in the warm pools, the park has 6.2 miles of hiking trails. It’s an excellent spot to see bison roaming on the plains.