Perhaps no state personifies the Old West feeling in the modern day like Wyoming. When thinking of the great, expansive “Cowboy State” to the north, most people likely think of just that: cowboys, horses, dust and mud streets, bighorns, bears, and high skyscraping peaks. That’s not too far from the truth!
Of course, Wyoming is as much a part of the 21st century as any other locale in the modern world, but because it’s the least populated state, there still is a wildness that can be hard to explain. However, the untamed spirit needs no explanation once you set foot on one of its many open ranges.
The great novelist Annie Proulx once said of Wyoming, “only earth and sky matter” there, and one would be hard-pressed to sum this incredibly particular state up more succinctly.
It is an adventure lover’s dream and remains predominantly unspoiled, unlike some of its contemporaries on the outdoor fun and excitement “best of” lists. One can imagine the Wyoming of today as not all that different from the one 100 years ago.
Better check out these must-see Wyoming sites while they’re still this way:
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area: Encompassing more than 120,000 acres between Wyoming and its neighbor to the north, Montana, this park is a one-in-a-million chance for the nature lover who seeks a fully immersive experience. In addition to the vast diversity in ecosystems and wildlife, Bighorn Canyon offers some of the most spectacular views in the region. Hiking along its many trails, camping under the great bowl of western stars, and kayaking, canoeing, or boating alongside its massive canyon walls are just a few of the popular things to do. Experience these activities against a stunning vista of wild, untouched majesty. Come and explore more than 10,000 years in human history.
Fossil Butte National Monument: Perhaps a lesser-known fact about this region is its abundance of fossil beds. One can find some of the best-preserved fossils in the entire world here! See Insects, fish, plants, birds, reptiles, and mammals of bygone eras preserved in extraordinary detail, unlike anywhere else on Earth. The unique fine-grained lake sediments and ancient water conditions prevented scavengers from feasting on and scattering the remains of what are now fossilized artifacts. Visitors can find fully articulated skeletons — not dispersed but primarily intact. The story these fossils tell about life thousands of years ago is waiting for every curious traveler rolling through “Big Wyoming.”
Yellowstone National Park: No story about this region is complete without mentioning the world’s first national park: Yellowstone. Spanning across Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, this grand old gem of the national parks system routinely ranks at or near the top of the country’s most visited and cherished places. Camp, hike, take in the local wildlife, experience one of its many erupting geysers, or sit under its massive canopy of stars and constellations on a quiet summer night. Soak up the expansive beauty that has drawn humans to its magisterial landscape for thousands of years.