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Denali Bluffs Hotel: Experience Alaska

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, you’ll want to make sure a visit to Denali National Park is in your itinerary. With only one road entering the 6 million acres of protected land, the park experience allows visitors to intimately observe this beautiful area and the wildlife that makes this habitat their home. Speaking of homes, you’ll want a home base for your adventures. The Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge are the perfect place to start and end your day while you explore the area.

Lodging

Lupines growing in Denali National Park

The hotels are nestled along the hillside of Sugarloaf Mountain, allowing you to still feel close to nature. Enjoy stunning views from your room, easy access to the park entrance, delicious food options, a comfortable hotel experience, and a range of adventure opportunities at your fingertips!

Whether you choose to start your Alaska adventure via train, bus or car, you’re in for a scenic treat. From Anchorage you’ll pass by the Chugach Mountains, then head up the Matanuska Valley. As you approach Talkeetna, you might catch some of your first views of Denali. The route continues along the park. After 238 miles you’ll arrive at the gateway: The Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge. The hotel is happy to provide a shuttle for guests arriving via train and makes getting checked in as seamless as possible.

When we checked into our room I was delighted at all the small touches they included to make our stay as comfortable as possible. The views from our room were terrific, and after a long day of travel, I could have spent all evening (and that’s quite a while in the summer!) on the balcony enjoying the mountains, fresh air, and never-ending daylight. Luckily we had plenty of dinner options close by.

A big day of adventures calls for a for a hearty breakfast, and the buffet at the Mountaineer Bar and Grill did not disappoint! For those making an early start or wanting to take their breakfast with them, the Perky Moose Pantry and Cafe offers a variety of grab and go options. You can even have them make you a lunch box or snack pack if you put your order in by 8pm the night before.

Hike and Bike in Denali National Park

A bus near Denali National Park

Fueled for the day, we headed out for our first adventure. Along the highway was the Denali Bike rental tent. We decided biking would be a fun way to experience the park, so we rented two bikes, and headed over to the Denali Bus Depot and caught our ride into the park. We even got to take a free shuttle to Savage River Campground. This is the last stop before entering the park, and can be reached by personal car as well.

Hiking in Denali National Park

There, we locked our bikes and decided to hike the challenging Savage Alpine Trail. The 4 mile trail doesn’t waste any time in gaining elevation. Luckily there are plenty of views to take pictures if you need an excuse to catch your breath. Most of the trail is above the treeline, which means panoramic views the whole time. When we got to the end of the trail at Mountain Vista, we grabbed the bus heading back to our bikes. Be forewarned, everything is bigger in Alaska, and the mosquitos are no exception! We didn’t notice them while we were moving, but they sure were happy to keep us company while waiting for the bus!

Mosquito warning sign near the Denali Bluffs Hotel.

There are no bike trails in the park, and riding on hiking trails is not allowed, so we enjoyed the 15 mile bike ride on the paved road from Savage Creek Campground back to the entrance. Other than buses and a few cars, we mostly had the road to ourselves.  There’s a bit of a climb in the beginning, but the last 9 miles are a fun ride down.

Earn Your Dinner at the Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge

Dinner served at the Denali Bluffs Hotel

After all the activities of the day, we freshened up at the hotel, and took a quick ride up to dinner at the Alpenglow Restaurant located inside the Grande Denali Lodge. The views were absolutely amazing, and the food matched. After all that hiking we were hungry, so after enjoying the most amazing fried Brussel sprouts my husband and I decided to split the Tomahawk for two—a delicious prime 36 oz bone in ribeye. It was hands down one of the best meals we had during our trip. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get better, we got birds eye views of a double rainbow.

Rainbow stretched over Denali National Park

There is no shortage of ways to explore Denali National Park. The Denali Visitors Center has some wonderful exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area. Here you can join along with ranger led hikes or talks.  The park also offers a variety of bus options including transit buses to help visitors access hiking, camping, and photography.

They also have several narrated bus tours led by certified naturalists with different tour lengths. For those who have the time, the Kantishna Experience Tour goes all the way to the end of the 92 mile road. If you want to experience Denali National Park from the air, try a scenic plane tour! No matter how far in you go, you’re likely to see wildlife, so keep your eyes open, and have your camera ready!

Denali National Park: an Epic Vacation

Hiking in Denali National Park

After you’ve experienced the park by foot or bus you may want to consider exploring it from  another angle. Maybe on horseback, or rafting the Nenana River. You could take a jeep tour on the historic Stamped Trail, or get a bird’s eye view of Denali with a scenic flight. No matter what your fancy is, the concierge at the Denali Bluffs Hotel are happy to give suggestions. Check our pre-made Alaska itinerary to help plan your trip and get inspired!

We had so much fun during our time in Denali, we already can’t wait to come back and experience all these options from our new second home at the Denali Bluffs Hotel!

Check out our Alaska road trip itinerary to help plan your trip!

Denali Bluffs Hotel pin




Want to See Denali from the Air? Take an Alaska Scenic Flight Tour!

Alaska has been on our bucket list for quite some time. Instead of just checking it off, our visit has only created more reasons to go back. Our Alaska float plane rides were the best parts of our trip!

Alaska is a huge state. Even in person, you can’t seem to grasp the scale of everything you’re experiencing. I’ve never felt so small in comparison to my surroundings, yet the grandeur makes you feel larger than life. What made us feel even smaller? Exploring from the air on an Alaska float plane tour.

Flying in a float plane above the Alaska Range mountains.

As we began planning our trip, our list of desired experiences kept growing. We love scenic road trips, and couldn’t wait to experience this new landscape. With so much to see and limited time, we had to narrow down our list. 

Float plane leaving the water in Alaska.

Aerial Exploration: Alaska Float Plane Tours

 

We were excited to ask our friends in Alaska what they recommended as “must-do” experiences from a local perspective. Everyone seemed to agree that we’d need to see Alaska from the air to understand the vastness of it.  Getting a birds eye view of the water, mountains and most of all, glaciers, were our number one priority!

Our friends in Anchorage suggested that Rust’s Flying Adventures was the place to go for a scenic flight. After talking to the friendly staff at Rust’s, they suggested two different styles of scenic flights. The first would be flying a float plane through the Chugach mountains, over the Price Williams Sound and surrounding glaciers. The second flight would include flying around Denali, America’s tallest peak and landing below on Ruth Glacier.  Between the two flights, we were sure to get a good taste of Alaska! 

Collage of an Alaska float plane experience

There is no quick way to get to Alaska, however, our flight into Anchorage was stunning. I won’t forget our first preview of the impressive Chugach range. The next day we made our way to Hood Lake, the world’s largest and busiest floatplane base. We were greeted by our friendly and well-seasoned bush pilot, Bruce, who had spent his life flying planes all over the world.

Bruce informed us that the Prince William Sound route is one of his favorites. We loaded into a small deHaviland Beaver plane, each getting our own window seat and two way radio. Taking off from the water was a new experience for us.  As we left Anchorage, we followed the Turnagain Arm, flying along the Chugach Mountains.

Glacier in Alaska. View from float plane.

 

Checking out the Wildlife from an Alaskan Float Plane

Wildlife seen during an Alaska float plane tour, including a marmot, eagle, and moose.

We were lucky enough to take in some of the local wildlife, including Dall sheep high on the cliffs, a black bear and even a few whales surfacing as we flew over the Prince William Sound. From above we could see the valleys where the receding glaciers touch the rivers. All of the glacier water merges into massive blue-colored fjords and inlets. The highlight of this trip was the water landing near a glacier where we had a little bay to ourselves. We took a moment to enjoy the stunning scenery and solitude.

Owl seen in Alaska.

Throughout our flight we both felt speechless and overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery. I had experienced large mountains before, but never so many, so close and with so many glaciers and the sea to compliment the view! But we knew that our flying days weren’t over yet, and after such an exciting experience I couldn’t wait for our Alaska float plane tour of Denali.

Denali by Air

Double rainbow above the forests in Alaska.

We had to get up early and drive to Talkeetna, a cute town on the southern end of Denali National Park.  It was a gorgeous bluebird morning, and we caught our first glimpse of the magnificent Denali as we were driving along the highway. We checked in to the Denali Bluffs Hotel, grabbed our overboots to keep our feet dry once we landed on the glacier, and loaded the DeHavilland Turbine Otter.

Alaska float plane tour on a glacier

This plane was slightly larger than the float plane from the day before. We still had our own windows, but this time we were ready to land on a glacier! As we left Talkeetna, we flew over the mighty Susitna River and up the valley towards the Alaska Mountain Range. The forest landscape below started evolving into the tundra, and the hills were replaced by mountains.

As the plane turned, what looked like a large cloud system on the horizon started to transform into the silhouette of the massive peak. Denali is such a large mountain that it has its own weather patterns. The peaks can be rather elusive to get a clear view of, but we were in luck that day!  We flew next to the jagged ridges that were delicately covered in overhanging cornus. There were massive glacier fields and equally impressive “smaller” peaks. We saw the climbers’ basecamp before preparing ourselves to get a small taste of what these mountaineers experience.

Denali National Park seen from afar.

Descending onto the Glacier

I felt as if we were shrinking as we descended below the the massive heights. We were greeted with a lovely glacial breeze as we stepped off the plane. We spent 20 minutes just soaking in the experience. Surrounded by 360 degrees of granite peaks, I found myself disoriented by the scale of how huge everything was, and overwhelmed by the majestic experience. We loaded back up and tried to soak in every view as we made our way back towards Talkeetna, watching where the glaciers turned into rivers, flowing back through the forest, and toward the valley we started in. An Alaska float plane tour is definitely the best way to experience the Alaskan wilderness.

Hiker on Savage Creek Trail.

As we left Talkeetna, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude. It’s truly special to experience this place in such an intimate way. Seeing Alaska from a float plane was truly the best way to appreciate the scale of the landscape. It was easily one of the most exciting and memorable experiences we’ve ever had.  Seeing Alaska in this lens left me craving more, and with an appreciation of just how vast Alaska is. I can’t wait to go back for more. 

 

Check out our Alaska road trip itinerary to help plan your trip!

Alaska Pinterest PIn

 




A Weekend in Williams, Arizona

The “super-highway” of America, the gateway to the Grand Canyon—Williams, Arizona goes by many names. Stop into this road tripper bucket list destination for a great weekend retreat. Enjoy the classic cars and classic views. Williams, Arizona is pure Americana.

This story was written in cooperation with Experience Williams.

Williams, Arizona Pin 

There is so much to do in Williams, Arizona that you have to pick and choose how you spend your weekend. Follow this rough itinerary for a well-rounded trip, and make adjustments for your taste!

The Grand Canyon Railway

Originally used to transport mining ore, the Grand Canyon Railway is now one of the coolest ways to experience the Grand Canyon. Running from Williams to the South Rim of the Canyon, the train provides great views and a fun ride. Wake up early to start your day off with gorgeous views! Leading up to Christmas you can ride the Polar Express Train! Enjoy the festive mood, while listening to this wonderful story of the Polar Express and getting excited to meet Santa!

The Williams, Arizona Route 66 Classic Car Show

Classic cars in Williams, Arizona

When you arrive back from your train ride, round out the afternoon with a trip to the classic car show! Experience life as it was with soda fountain shops, neon signs, and gorgeous cars that encapsulate the 50’s and 60’s. Downtown Williams also has great handmade leather goods and other artistic crafts that make perfect gifts.

Round out your evening with a beer at Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery, and you’ll be singing “Get Your Kicks on Route 66!”

Take in a Western Show

The historic downtown of Williams, Arizona is a little more exciting than most. Wake up and watch a real wild west gunfight, though no cowboys will be hurt in the process. Feel like you’re on a spaghetti western movie set as you wander around saloons, mercantile shops, and an old time jail! After all the excitement, head to Kick’s on Route 66 for upscale bar food (including maize con queso and a blueberry burger!).

Walk on the Wild Side

Bearizona in Williams, Arizona

The Grand Canyon isn’t the only natural wonder around Williams. Head to Bearizona, a wildlife sanctuary home to all kinds of critters, from owls and bears to wolves and otters! Bearizona is located on about 160 gorgeous acres. Filled with wildlife and Ponderosa Pines, it’s a great way to get out of the hustle and bustle of downtown for a relaxing afternoon.

Williams, Arizona is a great spot to take in American culture, reminisce about history, and see one of America’s most valued treasures! What are you waiting for?

Have you been to Williams, Arizona? Tell us about it in the comments!




Nowoodstock: The Ultimate Wyoming Music Festival

Need something to spice up your western summer road trip? Two words my friends: music festivals. You may not have figured there are cool, underground music festivals in Wyoming, but think again. Nowoodstock is one of Wyoming’s coolest music festivals, and it gets better every year.

This article was created in partnership with Bighorn Mountain Country.

I was so excited to explore Nowoodstock. I’d been hearing about the festival for years but had never made the trip. I’ve spent lots of time rock climbing in Tensleep Canyon, but was excited to see the town from a new perspective. I headed up on a sunny Friday afternoon with the weekend’s lineup playing in my head.

Exploring Downtown Worland

My first stop was to explore downtown Worland, Wyoming. For such a small town, it has some cool personality. I wandered around, admiring some murals and stopping into a bike shop, and Bee Healthy, a cool health food store.

Downtown Worland, Wyoming, including a mural, bike shop, health food store, and flowers.

I asked a local store owner where to go for dinner. They suggested Goodie’s, a spot that didn’t even show up on Yelp! I felt a little hesitant, but was excited to try a local favorite. The restaurant is set up deli-style, and locals dotted the room. When my burger came, all my doubts disappeared. Let me preface my next statement by saying that lots of places in Wyoming claim that their burgers are the best, but Goodie’s burgers are actually the best. It was true burger perfection.

Goodie's restaurant in Worland, Wyoming.

The Best of the Music Festivals in Wyoming

After one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, I was ready to hit the festival. Nowoodstock is a throwback festival to its namesake, and the spirit of the event is too. Since Nowoodstock is still fairly small, I parked right across the street and wandered over. Food trucks selling everything from Dippin’ Dots to Indian frybread to bbq lined the grounds, and the evening’s entertainment was already warming up. Craftsmen of all kinds were selling everything from fish leather wallets to beaded knife sheaths. There was even a hippie tie-dye painted massage trailer!

Vendors and artists at a music festival in Wyoming.

The performers at Nowoodstock ranged from professional musicians to people just starting out. The thing they all had in common was how talented they are. From Tensleep legend Jalan Crossland to newcomer Lacy Nelson, each group brought their own unique skills. From bluegrass to country, jazz to folk, the musicians of Nowoodstock put on great performances all weekend long!

Musicians perform at Nowoodstock, one of the best music festivals in Wyoming.

Between sets, I wandered around town to explore one of the best local spots: Dirty Sally’s. They have tons of local crafts and gifts, a good selection of produce and other groceries, an ice cream bar, and the best iced coffee in the state! Downtown Tensleep has several eateries, and the Bighorn Mountain Stage Co. has all kinds of interesting finds!

Dirty Sally's general store in downtown Tensleep, Wyoming.

Don’t Forget the Beer!

Tensleep also has a great microbrewery called Tensleep Brewing Co. Their laidback environment is a haunt for locals, climbers, and bikers. They have tons of variety in their beers, and their knowledgeable brewers can tell you all about the process. The brewery has events throughout the summer, from trivia nights to live music.

Interior images of Tensleep Brewing company in Tensleep, Wyoming.

I love Tensleep for the climbing, but now, I have another reason to show up in the summer. Nowoodstock is definitely one of the coolest music festivals in Wyoming. Be sure to put it on your calendar for next year!

A crowd gathers at Nowoodstock one of the best music festivals in Wyoming.

Can’t get enough of Worland and Tensleep? Check out these 10 great things to do in Washakie County!

What is your favorite of the lesser-known music festivals in Wyoming? Tell us below!

 

 

 

 

 




Explore the Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous

If you like history, dressing up, or exploring a different time period, drop by the Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous. Akin to a Renaissance Fair, historical reenactment participants dress in period costume and participate in life circa 1838. No time machine necessary.

This story was created in partnership with the Riverton Chamber of Commerce.

Welcome to the 1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous

The 1838 Riverton, Wyoming Mountain Man Rendezvous is part cultural experience, part historical reenactment, and part get together. Folks from around the country travel to the various mountain man rendezvous reenactments. It’s a celebration of the mountain man way of life, complete with nightly music, stories around the campfire, and even knife throwing! Thanks to the people who attended the Rendezvous and kept journals, the 1838 Rendezvous is the most well-documented of the 16 held in the region! It is also the only reenactment in the country held on the original rendezvous grounds.

Explore the Historic Site

1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous reenactment site.

The site is full of vendor tents, selling everything from artisan beadwork, furs, and top hats to knives and books. It really feels like you’re stepping back through time to see what life was like in 1838. The shops are set up in canvas structures, a testament to how the mountain men of yore practiced Leave No Trace principles.

If you’re looking to purchase goods, be forewarned, some traders will only trade with other vendors. Don’t be too offended if someone won’t sell you a dashing top hat. After all, the Rendezvous was originally held by fur traders, not fur sellers!

Learn Some Mountain Man Rendezvous Skills

Earrings, flags, and a quilt at the 2019 Riverton Mountain Man rendezvous.

Past the vendor tents, folks who are fully participating in the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous have their residence tents set up. There’s a large mess hall where people gather, eat, and catch up. People wander around the site to chat with neighbors, borrow or barter for supplies, and generally just enjoy the company and the great outdoors.

At the end of the trail, a shooting range is set up for participants and visitors alike. People can try their hand at shooting black powder rifles. It’s easy to forget the early process of shooting a gun, but in the past, it was quite involved to load another ball. In addition to the black powder shoots, several other “how to” classes are held at the 1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous.

The Environmentally-Conscious Mountain Man

A collage of a gun, a woman in period costume shooting a gun, and a rendezvous camp set up.

According to the 1838 Rendezvous Association, “Mountain Men left no physical trace of their lives upon the western landscape and this site is dedicated to the men, women and children who moved so lightly upon the world that only the land and the river remain as a witness to those shining times.” Leaving a natural place better than we found it is a lesson all outdoor enthusiasts can take to heart!

In addition to the interesting wares, historical demonstration, and kid-friendly games, there are nightly Council Meetings that discuss all matter of Rendezvous official business.People participating in the rendezvous.

For more information on the 1838 Riverton Mountain Man Rendezvous, be sure to follow them on Facebook!

While you’re in town, check out everything else Riverton, Wyoming has to offer!

A Pinterest pin for the Riverton 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous.




Why a Travel Fanny Pack is All You Need in Life

Mom fashionistas, rejoice. The travel fanny pack is BACK. Turns out, it is the best travel accessory of all time.

Why a Travel Fanny Pack?

Model wearing a fanny pack in Seattle.

You may still be living the unenlightened life of a non-fanny pack wearer and be asking this question. Fanny packs are in fact the EASIEST way to hold all your important stuff without having to deal with a purse. It is literally attached to you. It is impossible to lose. All your stuff is directly in front of you. Getting through TSA security with a ~travel fanny pack~ makes it easy to have your phone/wallet with ID/earphones/boarding pass/chapstick RIGHT THERE. It is amazing people. Truly life changing.

Models and other enlightened people sporting travel fanny packs.

Don’t take it from me. Look how amazing these people look. Is that a Dolce & Gabbana fanny pack? Embroidered flowers?! Fanny packs are the future. Hold all your stuff. Lose nothing ever again.

Things to look for in a Travel Fanny Pack

Travel fanny pack in action

When choosing my own personal fanny pack, I took lots of things into consideration. Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing a travel fanny pack. Choosing a fanny pack is basically like choosing a life partner. This is a very serious decision. Luckily, I did the hard core research for you and broke down the most critical components here.

1. Waist measurement

There’s nothing worse than getting your brand new travel fanny pack in the mail and realizing that the waist measurement can’t accommodate your size. One of my favorites is just a bit too big on the smallest setting. What a bummer. If you’re ordering online, check to make sure the smallest or biggest measurement will be the right size for you. Also make sure there is a way to secure the waist strap if you have extra left over. Some brands will leave you dragging a fanny pack waist strap tail. Not cute.

2. Clip Style

Personally, I am a fan of the industrial size clip. Some people prefer a more subtle look. Will it dig into your back when you’re sitting on an airplane? You cannot be too careful when selecting your travel fanny pack. It’s all in the details.

3. Size

Are you looking for something that can hold only the essentials? Would you like to carry a grocery store’s worth of snacks at all time (my personal preference)? Consider your needs in terms of size, and look for photos online that compare the actual size of items to the bag. If trying on in a store, try to fit all the stuff you would want to carry into your new travel fanny pack.

4. Pattern vs. solid color

If you’re constantly wearing bold bright patterns, take that into consideration when selecting from the myriad of fanny pack styles. You might opt for a solid color, or a neutral to offset your amazing bold self. If you can’t stay away from the patterns, opt for one with a darker background and a more subtle pattern. You can still get your fix but it won’t be an eyesore. See below: stripes + magical Japanese cranes = style.

My friend is not smiling because she does not have a travel fanny pack. True story. Another true story? Fanny packs can be worn across the chest, and are for men too! Dudes, do not shy away from the fanny pack life. It has been waiting for you.

Models wearing bags

Moral of the story? Everyone who travels should have a travel fanny pack, and everyone who has one looks amazing in it. For more travel accessory advice, check out our top ten list!

Would you wear a travel fanny pack? Let us know in the comments?

Travel Fanny Pack Pinterest Pin




Wind River Country, Three Days of Things to do in Wyoming

If you’re looking for things to do in Wyoming this summer, whether you’re on a road trip to Yellowstone or just discovering cool new spots, our Wind River Country itinerary has you covered.

This itinerary was created in partnership with Wyoming’s Wind River Country.

The wind river range view from the loop road in lander

Wind River Country in Wyoming is one of the best routes to Jackson and Yellowstone, and is a destination in its own right. From rock climbing to gold panning, from rodeo to mountain biking, Wind River Country has some of the best things to do in Wyoming.

Depending on where you’re coming from, whether you’re heading north from Denver, or motoring south from Jackson or the Tetons, start your road trip either in Lander or Dubois.

Day 1

Dancing in Dubois

Arrive in Dubois and enjoy an afternoon of small-town life. Dubois is full of art galleries, including local Monte Baker’s art gallery antler carvings. These carved antlers are unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else! Stop at Olsen’s Western Store and Trading Post to browse real Pendleton goods, cowboy boots, and hats. For an incredibly unique opportunity, check out Shotgun Paul for handmade leather and canvas goods.

Square dancing in Dubois, one of the many things to do in Wyoming.

After an afternoon strolling the wooden sidewalks of downtown, be sure to hit the square dancing at the Rustic Pine Tavern. This event is wild! Visitors and locals from across Wind River Country show up for this weekly social event. Don’t worry if you have limited dancing experience. The caller will walk everyone through the dance moves before you start. Don’t forget to wear your cowboy boots! Some restaurants stay open late just for hungry dancers after the event ends.

Day 2

See the Art in Riverton

Wake up in Dubois, a true, western small town full of history, culture, and high quality artwork. Head to the Coyote Blue Cafe for breakfast, where you can get a delicious plate of waffles for $6! Enjoy your breakfast upstairs, where local artwork is displayed on the walls, and a big bay window shows off amazing mountain views.

Breakfast at the Coyote Blue Cafe in Dubois Wyoming

After breakfast, head to Riverton for some downtown exploration. Take Highway 26 east for 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. Enjoy a delicious lunch at the Roasted Bean, where they have a great list of wines. Afterwards, take a walk over to Sweet Surprises and grab a gourmet cupcake.

Wander through the multiple galleries on Main to browse a variety of local art. You’ll find Native American artwork from the neighboring Wind River Indian Reservation, home of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone, in Wind River Gallery & Framing.

Don’t forget to check out the comic store while you’re strolling down Main Street! And when you’re on the sidewalk between galleries and shops, gaze up at the large artwork reproductions that add color to the buildings—you can even take a walking tour to see all the artwork around town.

Artwork in Riverton, one of the many things to do in Wyoming

Next, drive to Lander, one of Wyoming’s most unique towns, via Hwy 789 for 25 minutes. You won’t want to miss an afternoon exploring Sinks Canyon State Park and hiking in Sinks Canyon. We recommend the hike to the Popo Agie Falls, roughly three miles round trip that ends with a gorgeous waterfall!

Eat dinner at the most delicious Thai restaurant in the county: Thai Chef. You can also choose from one of the many other restaurants in town, such as Cowfish, the Gannett Grill, or The Hitching Rack.

Day 3

Get Outside in Lander

Wake up in “Landiego” and grab a healthy breakfast at The Juicery. Go with the Ruby Red smoothie and a sausage breakfast burrito. The Juicery specializes in organic and locally-sourced ingredients. Their cute atmosphere and bulletin board of events will let you know exactly what’s going on in town during your visit.

Enjoy a smoothie at the Juicery restaurant in Lander Wyoming

After breakfast, explore downtown Lander. If you need to rent a mountain bike for your adventures, head to Gannett Peak Sports or The Bike Mill. Their friendly staffs will help you find a mountain bike for the day, or tune your bike up for you! If you’re hiking or climbing, Wild Iris Mountain Sports will have everything you need for your adventure.

There are lots of things to do in Wyoming, from eating great breakfast to renting bikes!

To head into the Wind River Mountains, go for a drive on the Loop Road. This road begins with the switchbacks at the top of Sinks Canyon and drives a beautiful alpine loop through the Shoshone National Forest. Peer into the Wind River Range, go for a day hike from one of its many trailheads, or hang out by an alpine lake. The Loop Road connects with some of the best rivers and lakes for fly fishing, mountain biking trails, and climbing access. Enjoy this 65-mile loop (part of it is paved and part of it is on gravel roads) that includes a crossing of the Continental Divide, and pop out just a couple miles from Wild Iris, one of the best sport climbing areas in the world.

Enjoy hiking around the alpine lakes on the Loop Road in Wyoming

For dinner, stop into Atlantic City before heading back to Lander. Atlantic City, an old gold-mining ghost town, boasts a population of “about 57” and has high history per square foot. Pull up a stool and drink a beer at the Mercantile, a bar that’s truly representative of the western frontier. Then head next door to enjoy a burger at the Miner’s Grubsteak. We recommend the stuffed burger— it’s their specialty!

Atlantic City Mercantile, Jennie Hutchinson

Day 4 (Optional)

Extend Your Stay

Can’t get enough of the west? Head through Ft. Washakie and the Wind River Indian Reservation to get back to Dubois for the Friday night rodeo! This rodeo is small and full of local competitors. The spirit of the event is fun and family friendly.

One of the best things to do in Wyoming is see a rodeo!

There are so many things to do in Wyoming, especially in Wind River Country. This itinerary really only scratches the surface. Check out our other articles and itineraries for more ideas on how to have the best Wyoming experience!

Wind River Country Wyoming Pinterest pin




Two Amazing Days of Things to Do in Cheyenne, Wyoming

This spring, I was thrilled to find some outdoor things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming for a weekend of sun and western experiences. Little did I know, Cheyenne is home not only to a real, authentic western vibe, but modern and cool amenities as well. Cheyenne has history, but it also has a great current culture.

This story was created in partnership with Visit Cheyenne.

Pulling into Cheyenne I was welcomed with an interesting mixture of wild west and modern times. The Cheyenne Depot is dotted with giant, colorful cowboy boots painted by local artists and a handful of actors in old-timey garb wandering the streets, waiting to inform curious tourists of their history. I started my adventure by meeting up with my friend Andi, a Cheyenne local who was the perfect companion to show me the best things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

depot, main street cheyenne, historic downtown cheyenne

Day 1: As West As it Gets

If you’re looking for things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming, you won’t have to look too far. From the historic downtown, to the amazing food, to the wild west experiences, Cheyenne does not disappoint. I was thrilled to find so many cool activities, and some amazing food to boot.

Breakfast at the Luxury Diner

luxury diner, breakfast food, biscuits and gravy, breakfast cheyenne, things to do in cheyenne wyoming

Nothing says Cheyenne like eating breakfast in a trolley car from the late 1800’s. The Luxury Diner was bustling when Andi and I showed up, and the waitresses had as much character as the trolley car itself. Filled with paintings and memorabilia (and stuffed with hungry patrons), the Luxury Diner was the perfect spot to fuel up. The biscuits and gravy are a decades old recipe, and boy do they stand the test of time.

Making Friends at The Terry Bison Ranch

bison, bison train, cowboy, gift shop

The Terry Bison Ranch is a Cheyenne landmark, and a whole-day sort of adventure. I got checked in to my cute cabin, and got ready for the day’s adventure. After wandering around the Trading Post Gift Shop, I headed out to the stables. I was lucky enough to visit in the springtime, and there were even some newborn foals in the pens! I spent some time in the stables making friends while our helpful guides got us ready for our trail ride.

 

Trail Ride on the Open Plains

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I grew up riding horses on the east coast, so I was thrilled at the chance to sit in a real western saddle. Our guides saddled up 13 horses, and our group got ready for the trail ride. Our horses were sweet and gentle, and we had to do little aside from remind them not to stop and eat the fresh grass. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.

Hand-Feeding Bison

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This was, hands down, my favorite part of the trip. Our train ride out into the field of bison was cool, but having bison run up to the train where we could hand feed them was out of this world. I transformed from a young professional into a giggling school girl. Living three hours from Yellowstone, we regularly hear horror stories of tourists mistreating wildlife and getting injured or killed in the process. It felt so counter-intuitive to be able to get up close and personal with these incredible animals! The Terry Bison Ranch is the only place in North America where you can safely hand feed bison. Our guide Lonnie was incredibly knowledgeable about the animals and gave us some great background on the ranch during our train ride.

Note: Please, do not feed bison in Yellowstone or anywhere else, it is dangerous to both you and the animals!

Dinner at the Senator’s Steakhouse

dinner, senator's restaurant, bbq, bison ribs,

After our train ride, we were famished. We headed up the hill and within minutes were seated at the Senator’s Steakhouse. It wasn’t long after that that we were enjoying the prime rib all you can eat buffet. The staff was fun and friendly, and the bison short ribs were delicious enough to make me forget how cute they are.

Feel like a Local at the Bunkhouse Bar

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Nothing says western like a good country band and folks willing to dance to it. That’s what you’ll find at the Bunkhouse Bar, about 25 minutes from downtown Cheyenne. Believe me, it’s worth the drive. I walked in to find a band going and boots tapping, and it didn’t take too long before people were up dancing to the Y-4 band. If you feel like camping, it’s not too far down Happy Jack Road before you hit Curt Gowdy State Park, which is also a great area for hiking, mountain biking, and boating.

 

Day 2: Fresh Food and Fresher Flowers

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After waking up to a view of bison grazing in the fields and our guide Lonnie doing his darndest to round them up, I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the porch and grabbed some breakfast at the Tombstone Cafe, legendary for their biscuits and gravy. That morning, Andi and I had plans to explore downtown. It was hard to choose what do to, because there’s so much going on in Cheyenne!

Finding Things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming

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Cheyenne loves its history, and downtown is the perfect place to explore it. From the Cowgirl Museum to the Wrangler store, where we tried on cowboy boots and hats, to new galleries and art museums, downtown Cheyenne has a lot to discover. Did I forget to mention massive murals? Cheyenne has a few of those, too.

Lunch at Cheyenne’s Central Cafe

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After our heavy breakfast, I was craving something fresh. Luckily, Andi knew the perfect spot. We headed to the Central Cafe, a local secret for a fresh and healthy lunch. The Central Cafe blew my expectations away. I loved their Manchego Salad, with a delicious herb vinaigrette, Persephone granola, and shredded apple. After lunch, we were ready for a retreat as fresh as our salads.

Visiting the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

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Little could prepare me for a visit to the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Located near the epic Cheyenne Frontier Days fairgrounds, the gardens consist of a three-story indoor conservatory filled with exotic plants, sculptures, and birds, and outdoor gardens and a children’s area. Andi and I wandered around in the humid air and enjoyed the tropical atmosphere. We met with some local volunteers who told us how nice it is to visit during cold Cheyenne winters.

Classy Cocktails at the Paramount

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After an afternoon of wandering through the foliage, I was ready for a cocktail. Little did I know that the Paramount Ballroom would have some flowers of its own! Again, Cheyenne surprised me with its classy, modern amenities. The Paramount could fit perfectly in downtown Brooklyn, with its gorgeous wood floors, modern furniture, and black-and-white prints. The Ballroom features handcrafted cocktails and exceptional appetizers. I enjoyed my server’s recommendation, the Sweet Lavender, and was not disappointed.

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Coming from a small town, I was worried there wouldn’t be that many things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but turns out, there is too much to do! Even with a packed two-day itinerary, there were plenty of things I didn’t have the chance to see. Guess I’ll just have to visit again. Need more Cheyenne coverage? Read about some other adventures our travel ambassadors have had there!

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Lake Powell: The Perfect Weekend Getaway

The winter doldrums of Wyoming had my boyfriend Kyle and me in a slump. Early April is spring everywhere else, so we were thrilled to head south to the border of Utah and Arizona for a weekend trip. Stepping out of the car into the sunshine made us forget about the foot and a half of snow that still buried our garden, and the view of Lake Powell at sunset was enough to reset our spirits. Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas was the perfect spring respite. With the ideal mix of adventure and relaxation, Lake Powell made us forget all about our wintry woes.

This story was created in partnership with Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas.

Welcome to Your Insta-Worthy Home Away from Home

When we arrived at the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas Wahweap Campground, we checked in, and within minutes were standing outside an Airstream—the ultimate way to camp. The Airstream had all the fun amenities of camping, like a fire pit, grill, picnic table, and chairs, while still giving us a clean and comfortable space to hang out in. We were, to say the least, pretty dang excited.

Airstream compilation, Lake powell, camping

As the evening light came over the campground, we reluctantly left our Airstream to head over to the main resort area for dinner. The light was so gorgeous, I couldn’t help but take tons of photos!

The resort has several dining choices. We opted for the Driftwood Lounge, a cool and modern bar connected to the Rainbow Room, the lodge’s main restaurant. With a full panel wall of glass that afforded us epic views of the lake, we enjoyed some wine and a nice dinner after such a long drive. The menu featured a fall vegetable and quinoa salad paired with a Sauvignon Blanc, which was a delicious and fresh alternative to the fast food we’d endured that afternoon. We watched the sun set and took in the beautiful views.

Lake Powell, Driftwood lounge, salad, wine

The restaurants open up onto a patio with spectacular views of the lake. With a pool, comfy outdoor couches, and fire pits, it makes for the perfect spot to wind down the evening. We walked around, enjoyed the views, and got excited for our plans for the upcoming weekend.

pool deck, lake views

Breakfast with a View

The next morning, we woke up excited to start our day. We headed to the Rainbow Room for a breakfast buffet, with a side of gorgeous sunrise. The views from the dining room had us itching to get out onto the lake, but the smell of bacon gave us a reason to take our time.

breakfast, eggs, bacon, coffee, rainbow room

Touring Antelope Canyon

After breakfast, we were finally ready to get out onto the water. We checked in at the Boat Tours desk in the lodge’s lobby, settled in with a Starbucks coffee from the Wind Tapas Bar, and adjusted our camera settings. When our guide called us up, we walked down to the marina and checked out the boats. When the captain had everyone loaded up, we were ready to go!

Antelope Canyon float tour, boat, marina

The walls of Antelope Canyon soared above us as we coasted on the water. The colors had my mind turning to art projects, and a potential remodel in the color scheme of desert-red rock walls and blue sky. The Canyon Adventures Tour is a great way to view the canyon from a whole new perspective and learn a little history about the area and dam system.

selfie, antelope canyon, lake powell

Hike to the Hanging Gardens

After some time on the water, I wanted to get back into the desert proper. The Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas website was super helpful for giving us some ideas about where to go for a day hike. They give you the option to sort arrival to the trailhead by land or by boat, making it easy to plan ahead for boating outings as well. The Hanging Gardens is a quick and easy hike to a beautiful and cool desert oasis. Desert flowers dotted the path, and at the end, a cliff overhang where vegetation could make a home in the desert heat. It was a beautiful and peaceful way to end the afternoon.

Hanging gardens compilation, hiking

Rent a Powerboat, Trust Us

This was definitely Kyle’s favorite part of the trip. The staff at the marina had us set up in no time, and soon we were zooming around the lake. Since we were there in early April (still considered an off-season time), we were the only people on the lake. We had the whole place to ourselves! We enjoyed the views of Castle Rock and made some future plans involving a houseboat.

speed boat selfies

Hike to Horseshoe Bend

We’ve all seen the epic pictures on Instagram and Pinterest, but people, let me tell you. It is totally different in person. The vastness of Horseshoe Bend canyon is difficult to put into words or a photograph. You’ll just have to go experience it for yourselves. Pro-tip: look up what time either sunrise or sunset is, and plan to be there just before, then you’ll be guaranteed to show up for the best light.

Lake Powell: From Adventure to Relaxation

Balance is what life is all about, right? That’s what we loved so much about our stay at Lake Powell. We had the excitement of hiking and boating, and then the balance of relaxation. Drinking coffee and reading in the Airstream gave us the opportunity to soak in our trip and enjoy some down time.

Our stay at Lake Powell had a little bit of everything, but it had a lot of convenience. With a campground and store, high-end dining, and marinas all in such close proximity, we didn’t have to do any planning ahead of time. As a major planner myself, it was an added bonus to have every detail thoughtfully taken care of before we arrived. The ease of staying at the resort allowed us to give our minds a break, and just enjoy. We barely scratched the surface of what there is to do at Lake Powell: slot canyons, houseboating, Rainbow Bridge. We were planning our next visit before we even left. The sunsets weren’t too bad either.

Interested in visiting? Check out Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas website to learn more.

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10 Experiences in the top 5 Destinations of Wyoming’s Wind River Country

While most folks who visit Yellowstone pass through Jackson on their way, there is a road less travelled. Drive Highway 287/26 and discover the hidden gems and real Western towns that make up Wyoming’s Wind River Country. Experience authentic rodeos, spot mustangs roaming the plains, and maybe even find some gold! Welcome to the true West.

This article was created in partnership with the Wind River Visitors Council.

Dubois

National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center

bighorn sheep, museum, dubois

Dubois (pronounced dew-boys) is a fascinating small town with some big history, and is home to the largest wintering herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. Stop by the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center to learn about these incredible animals. The Center also offers guided tours with experienced staff from November to March (yet another reason to visit Dubois in the winter), so you can see some bighorn sheep in real life.

Friday Night Rodeos

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If you want to experience a real ranching-style rodeo, look no further than this town’s summer Friday Night Rodeo. Watch cowboys take on broncs and bulls, barrel racing, calf roping, and other traditional rodeo events. This family-friendly event will keep you on the edge of your seat! The 2020 rodeo season runs from June to August, with events running from 7:30 -10pm at the Clarence Allison Memorial Arena.

Riverton

Chow down at the Trailhead

From Dubois, continue driving south on Highway 287/26 to reach Riverton, the Rendezvous City. Stop by the Trailhead and order a local beef burger. You can also tuck into their other typical western cuisine and quaint cowboy atmosphere.

Slake your sweet tooth

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If you didn’t fill up on burgers, swing into Sweet Surprises for fresh pastries and lunches that incorporate locally-grown produce. Afterwards, if you’re feeling fantastically stuffed, burn off the calories walking and shopping along historic Main Street.

Wind River Indian Reservation

Dance exhibition at Wind River Hotel & Casino

Native American dancing, hoop dance, regalia

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of the Wind River Reservation host performances of traditional Native American dance throughout the summer. Traditional, fancy feather, grass, jingle dress, fancy shawl, and hoop dancing are performed by talented dancers in full regalia. These performances are a great way to learn about Native American culture. Join in the friendship dance, meet the dancers, and take some incredible photos. Dances begin at 6 p.m., and are free to the public.

Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary

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The Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary is the only one of its kind in the area, and features free-roaming mustangs on an expansive ranch. The Interpretive Center details the history of Native American horse culture. The Interpretive Center also includes a gift shop with handmade Native American crafts and gifts. Schedule a tour to see these amazing animals up close.

Lander

Lander Pioneer Museum and the Museum of the American West

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Want the truth about the old West? Want to know where Butch Cassidy and his pals spent their time? Stop into the Pioneer Museum for some real western history. The museum is packed with authentic artifacts from the Native American tribes of the area and the early settlers from the East. Enjoy a tour, and walk around the outdoor exhibits of the Museum of the American West to stretch your legs.

Sinks Canyon State Park

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For a small town in the middle of Wyoming, Lander is shockingly cosmopolitan. The proximity to the Wind River Range creates outdoor opportunities for climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, and hunters. Check out Sinks Canyon State Park for gorgeous canyon views. The Sinks Visitors’ Center along the Nature Trail provides information on the canyon’s mysterious geologic namesake. Afterwards, enjoy a 3 mile round-trip hike to the beautiful Popo Agie waterfalls.

Atlantic City & South Pass City

South Pass City Historic Site

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For a scenic drive to your next destination, drive the Loop Road. This gravel road begins at the top of the switchbacks in Sinks Canyon and winds through the foothills of the Wind River Range. Several gorgeous alpine lakes dot the side of the road. Pass (or stay the night!) at Louis Lake Lodge, a beautiful lakeside cabin perfect for family vacations in the mountains. If you’ve had enough time in the car, rent a canoe for a few hours and paddle the lake! From this road you can easily access the South Pass City State Historic Site, an old gold mining town high in the mountains. Tour the Carissa Mine, and maybe even pan for gold!

Atlantic City

Atlantic City, Mercantile, Mercantile restaurant, Things to do in Wyoming

After a day of touring South Pass City, enjoy a delicious dinner at either the Mercantile Restaurant or the Grubsteak Bar & Grill. The Grubsteak’s stuffed burgers are some of the best around. Atlantic City’s welcome sign boasts “about 57” residents, and is a fascinating small mountain community. In the summer, this town comes alive with Continental Divide Trail thru-hikers, cross-country bikers, and visitors of all kinds

Photos courtesy of Wind River Visitors’ Council, Bill Sincavage, Brian Hension, Melissa Hemkin, and Jennie Hutchinson.

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