Few states on the vast map of the United States engender as much wide open imagination and wonder as the one appropriately and affectionately referred to as “The Cowboy State”: Wyoming.
Its seemingly endless spaces, great deep skies, and rough and tumble history as a hardscrabble piece of the American West might lead some curious souls to think of it in somewhat antiquated terms. But that might suit some Wyomans just fine!
Indeed, the famed writer Annie Proulx of the classic trilogy “Wyoming Stories” and one of the state’s favorite daughters famously declared Wyoming “fine just the way it is.”
However, some may be surprised to learn that there is a whole lot more to the state than sprawling cattle spreads and rugged, barren mountain ranges. Laramie and Cheyenne offer as much cosmopolitan fare as nearly any major city west of the Mississippi. At the same time, Jackson Hole remains one of the hottest destinations for skiers and snowboarders traveling from all around the world.
To be sure, though, outside of these city centers, Wyoming is as untamed in places as any state in America, from the Rocky Mountains to the west to the High Plains in its eastern half.
Its history is somewhat of an outlier as well. Most notably, Wyoming was the first to allow women the right to vote and the right to take elected office. Wyoming was also the first to elect a woman governor, gaining the nickname “The Equality State.”
There is so much to learn and experience in “Big Wyoming,” and its impressive State Parks system preserves many of these treasures for all who choose to visit.
Below are some can’t-miss Wyoming State Parks:
Buffalo Bill State Park: No stopover in “The Cowboy State” would be complete without a visit to one of its attractions named after one of the most famous cowboys there ever was: Buffalo Bill. Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the famed gunman and explorer, first came to this region of Wyoming in the 1870s. Aside from being a world-renowned showman, he was influential in bringing irrigation and agricultural development to the town now named for him. In 1905, a reservoir project was started where the park currently resides, making the dam built there at the time the highest in the world. Today, Buffalo Bill State Park is a hotspot for all manner of recreational activities like boating, fishing, and hunting on the lake.
Photo Courtesy Buffalo Bill State Park
Hot Springs State Park: This park has it all, with its most popular attraction right in the name. Aside from its more than 6 miles of gorgeous Wyoming backcountry hiking trails, its namesake falls await the weary hiker for a hot dip after a long trek. The multicolored bluffs alongside the Big Horn River are where mineral hot springs pump more than 8,000 gallons of water every 24 hours at over 120 degrees. Hot Springs is the perfect place for fun in the wilderness and a little natural hot water therapy after, making it one of the more popular sites in the area.
Photo Courtesy Hot Springs State Park
Glendo State Park: This destination is nearly as massive as the state in which it resides! With more than 22,000 acres of preserved, pristine Wyoming land, the park offers almost endless outdoor activities. Encompassing a 12,000-acre reserve and more than 40 miles of diverse, non-motorized trails, hikers, boaters, fishermen, and bikers flock by the thousands yearly to this spot in Platte County, WY. For outdoor lovers of every stripe, it should rank right at the top of any must-visit list!
Photo Courtesy Glendo State Park