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Laramie: History, Hops, Hoodoos and Hiking…Oh My!

Welcome to the mother of it all, Laramie, Wyoming! We loaded the mountain bikes on the truck, threw all of our gear in the back and cruised north. We came for the festivals in downtown Laramie, and stayed for the outdoor recreation. Laramie is an idyllic American town with rich history, fun local happenings, and so much outdoor recreation. Alright…saddle up, partner!

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History

First stop, Wyoming Territorial Prison. This place was a true symbol of law and justice in its heyday, helping tame the wild west in the late 1800’s. Moreover, some of the country’s most famous outlaws spent time here, including Butch Cassidy. While many of the prisoners were convicted as cattle thieves, there were plenty of high profile murderers who spent time there as well.

The museum is full of insightful information about prison residents and what it would have been like for them. Many of the exhibits are interactive as well, placing you right in the thick of prison life. I most appreciated the actors who you might encounter throughout the prison grounds. One such actor was a prisoner, busy at work crafting brooms. The opportunity to work in the broom factory during that time was likely much better than spending time in a jail cell. The equipment in the factory is primarily the same today as was used historically.

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Hops

We were excited to visit Laramie, Wyoming during their annual Jubilee Days celebration and Laramie Brewfest (both events postponed in 2020).

Scattered around the downtown streets were local vendors, live music, food trucks, beer, carnival rides, and other fun stops. We sampled a variety of red and green chili from a cook-off earlier that day and danced in the street while a local guitar duo played. When we were ready to cool off, we walked through the carnival scene and made our way to the beer festival happening at the old train depot. There was a 12-piece band playing everyone’s favorite cover songs, and beer from 40 different breweries (predominately Wyoming and Colorado breweries).

2019 marked the 78th annual Jubilee Days, and consequently it’s an entire week of fun, we were only there for the tail end of the festivities. Proceeds earned from the Laramie Brewfest fund downtown improvement projects and public art. We loved the murals and wall art that covered several buildings around town, especially the trout mural which features work from 11 different artists.

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Hoodoos

Vedauwoo Recreation Area is one of Wyoming’s most underrated destinations. About 20 minutes outside of Laramie, Vedauwoo is full of interesting granite rock formations. These have proven all  too tempting for rock climbers. Weaving through the park are many trails, great for mountain biking, hiking and, of course, there are even some ATV trails. We zipped around Turtle Rock on our mountain bikes, a trail that leads through aspen groves, tall grasses, and over rock obstacles. The trail had the perfect combination of challenging ascents and fun descents. There is also a nice campground in the park, complete with ultra dark skies and millions of stars.


Hiking

There are loads of hiking destinations outside of Laramie, Wyoming. Because of this, we decided to beat the heat and drive up to 10,000 ft in the Snowy Range. We hiked the Lakes Trail, which weaves through several alpine lakes (hence the name!). The Snowy Mountain Range is just as impressive as any mountains I’ve seen in neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park. Many trails in this area are also great for mountain biking or backpacking. Consequently, you can take your pick in this quiet area of Wyoming!

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This story has been created in partnership with the Albany County Tourism Board, Wyoming.




Our weekend escape to Saratoga, Wyoming

When it comes to vacation, I love a place that combines the outdoors with relaxation. I had driven the scenic byway between Laramie and Rawlins, Wyoming before and knew that spending a few nights somewhere in between was a must. Surrounded by the Medicine Bow National Forest, I knew that an escape to Saratoga would be the perfect weekend. Eliza and I headed out early, left the traffic and city behind for the mountains with our swimsuits and fly rods in tow.

Saratoga Wyoming Pin

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This article was created in partnership with Carbon County Visitors Council, Wyoming.

That drive, though

Heading northwest from Colorado, we found ourselves winding along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. We couldn’t help but pull off a few times and take in the beauty along the highway, and once to watch a moose wandering through a meadow! Spotting wildlife was such an incredible treat. Eventually we made it to Saratoga and checked into our digs for the weekend at the historic Hotel Wolf.

Escape to Saratoga and stay in Hotel Wolf

Photo by Emily Sierra Photography

Downtown: it’s small-town and super friendly

From our hotel, we could easily hit shops and restaurants around town. Across the street was a vast collection of authentic turquoise jewelry and vintage cowboy hats. On our walk to dinner, we passed a few different art galleries featuring local works.

Our escape to Saratoga included adorable downtown shopping

Photo by Brigid Daly

We approached Firewater Public House for dinner, and people were hanging out on their lawn playing games and sipping beverages. Eliza and I sat on the porch and listened to the river pass gently. A man grabbed the guitar inside and started strumming tunes. We were surprised with the diverse menu, offering scratch-made dishes and high quality food. The best part? Everyone we chatted with was super friendly and welcoming. They were excited to hear where we planned to fly fish and offered more recommendations than we could fit into a weekend.

Firewater Public House is a great escape from reality, especially with yard games!

Photo by Brigid Daly

Hot Springs

Saratoga is a destination for many things, but namely its hot springs. Hobo Hot Springs is conveniently located downtown, open 24 hours and completely free to use! We stepped into our swimsuits, and though the main pool was a bit too hot for us on a summer day, we loved playing in the river where the hot and cold water meet. Eliza and I returned to the hot springs a few times throughout the weekend to relax after fishing—it was absolutely perfect!

Escape to Saratoga's hobo hot springs (they're free)

We caught fish!

Eliza and I are admittedly novice flyfisherwomen, so we hired Merry and Jane from Wyoming Women Anglers to show us the ropes. We were able to fish a variety of water, and we learned so much about the sport. We started at a scenic high alpine lake with the Medicine Bow Mountains as the backdrop. Next we moved onto a few small creeks before finally fishing the North Platte River from a boat. Each body of water presented a variety of exciting challenges and kept us on our toes. We caught beautiful brook trout in the small streams, and I even landed a large rainbow trout from the boat on our final day of fishing.

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Photo by Emily Sierra Photography

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Photos (left) by Casey Adams (right) by Brigid Daly

Saratoga is a gem in southern Wyoming! Eliza and I were immediately plotting our next trip to the area on the drive home, perhaps with our families on the next go-around. When we do return, we would love to stay at the Medicine Bow Lodge and Adventure Guest Ranch on National Forest land, which would put us even closer to our new favorite fishing holes. We visited the property after a morning of casting and were blown away by the beautiful lodge, the creek and forest that lie just outside the back door, and the appeal of a guided horseback ride into the pine trees and wildflowers. It seemed like the ideal home base for a family Saratoga vacation.

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Photo by Brigid Daly

Want to learn more about adventures to be had in Carbon County, Wyoming? Read about history and culture, follow a loose itinerary on your escape to Saratoga, and learn about the incredible wildflowers in the area.




Treat Yo’ Self with a Luxury National Park Vacation

You like the idea of exploring nature, but when it comes to the actual exploring, you like it with a side of luxury. Your friends might not describe you as “outdoorsy.” If you like the idea of returning to a comfy bed, a hot shower, and a meal cooked by a five-star chef after a full day of adventures, you might want to consider a luxury national park vacation. It’ll be like Fyre Fest, except not at all.

Treat Yo Self to National Parks Pin

Grand Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Grand Canyon hotel, a great place to stay for a luxury national park vacation.

The aptly named Grand Hotel boasts an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, and fitness center, in addition to mouthwatering cuisine and bright, spacious guest rooms! A ten-minute drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, this hotel is the perfect luxurious retreat after a day of traveling within the park’s massive borders. You could hike, or you could look at the views and go to the spa. Dealer’s choice.

Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite National Park, CA

Yosemite, a great location for a luxury national park vacation.

Plush accommodations? Check. Lavish spa services? Check. Access to hiking trails? Check! “Roughing it” doesn’t have to mean “toughing it” when you stay at this ornate establishment. When you stay here, you can enjoy a secluded, luxurious wilderness getaway while staying in touch with everything you love about nature.

The Resort at Paws Up, Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park at dusk

Camping along the Blackfoot River gets an extra dash of luxury in the Resort at Paws Up. Spend your days fishing, then watch the stars at night from outside your well-appointed tent. When your day of exploration is complete, indulge in a hot shower in your ensuite bathroom, sink into a sumptuous mattress, and prepare for more adventures.

Concordia Eco Resort, Virgin Islands National Park

A beach in the virgin islands

Stay in a Concordia Studio unit, which features a queen bed, a queen futon, a full bathroom, and a kitchenette – plus, unrivaled views of crystal blue Caribbean waters. And for the ultimate in high-end camping, couples can opt for a Banana Cabana, an independent luxury cottage on the property.

Della Terra Mountain Chateau, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 

 

Planning a luxury national park vacation for your honeymoon? Estes Park’s Della Terra Mountain Chateau can help with that. A popular wedding venue, the chateau is easily the most romantic spot on this list. It also features a sauna, a spa, a library, and an espresso bar. Each of its luxurious suites even houses its own fireplace! If you’re staying in Estes, be sure to check out our itinerary!

Where are you headed this fall to treat yo’ self?

 

Treat Yo Self Meme




4 Great Things To Do in Medora, North Dakota

On the western edge of North Dakota, nestled in the hills of the Badlands, is a tiny town named Medora. Although it’s located just off Interstate 94, the town isn’t visible from the freeway. It’s a true hidden gem.

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One of the best things to do in Medora, North Dakota is to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP), North Dakota’s only national park. Once you arrive in town, however, you’ll quickly realize there are many activities in the area.

This list highlights just a few of the things to do in Medora, ND.

1. THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK

One of the really special things about Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the lack of traffic and crowds. It’s rare to be stuck in a traffic jam unless a herd of bison is occupying the road. On the hiking trails you can go at your own pace and don’t have to worry about navigating your way through crowds of people.

If you’re looking for a peaceful day of things to do in Medora, North Dakota, exploring TRNP is for you. While this national park does not have towering mountains or pristine glacial lakes, it’s beautiful in a very down-to-earth way that many people find incredibly refreshing and inspiring.

Seeing wildlife is one of the best things to do in medora north dakota

Scenic Drive

The 36-mile loop scenic drive is a must-do in the South Unit of TRNP. Along the way you’ll have awesome views of the prairie, buttes and badlands. And there’s a good chance you’ll see some wildlife too.

Wildlife Watching

Spotting bison is one of the best things to do in medora north dakotaYou may see wild horses galloping or buffalo roaming across the prairie. It’s also not uncommon to come across some deer or elk. One of the often underrated wildlife watching experiences in TRNP is the prairie dog towns. The prairie dogs poke their heads out of their burrows and scurry around. They’re playful creatures so if you watch closely you might catch them interacting with each other in some pretty amusing ways.

Hiking

A gorgeous dirt road, sky, and field in Medora, North Dakota.TRNP has a few short hikes that are perfect to stop and do on your way through the park. Wind Canyon Trail and Coal Vein Trail are a couple favorites. The Wind Canyon Trail takes you to the top of a bluff that overlooks the Little Missouri River. The view is especially stunning at sunset when the sun casts a warm glow on the badlands and the river valley. The Coal Vein Trail hike is a fun opportunity to learn a little bit about the area’s history and geology, like how a coal vein fire impacted the landscape. Even if science and history aren’t your thing, you’ll likely still find the scenery along this trail pretty interesting.

2. MEDORA MUSICAL + PITCHFORK STEAK FONDUE

Sightseeing is one of the best things to do in medora north dakotaNearly every night of the summer, the Medora Musical takes place at the beautiful Burning Hills Amphitheater in Medora. The amphitheater can seat nearly 3,000 people, but even at capacity it doesn’t feel crowded because of the wide open sky above and badlands as far as the eye can see. The show highlights some of North Dakota’s history and is great entertainment for people of all ages! Before taking in the Medora Musical, many visitors enjoy the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. If you don’t plan to do your own campfire cookout, definitely consider taking part in this unique outdoor dining experience. Chefs prepare steaks by placing them onto a pitchfork and dipping them in hot oil. The accompanying buffet includes baked potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, baked beans, coleslaw and more. It’s the ultimate picnic complete with wonderful views!

3. BIKING

Mountain biking is super fun in medora nd!

North Dakota likely isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think about mountain biking, but the Maah Daah Hey trail offers terrain even experienced riders may find challenging. It’s 144 miles of rugged beauty with a wide variety of terrain that includes prairie, badlands, valleys and rivers.

For a milder biking experience, try the scenic loop of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

4. HISTORY

Spotting wild horses is one of the coolest things to do in medora north dakota Medora, ND has a history-rich background. Two prominent figures related to the history of the town are Theodore Roosevelt and the Marquis de Morés. Both spent time in the area in the late 1800s and left a lasting legacy. A couple places to visit in Medora to learn more about the history of the area include the Chateau de Mores Historic Site and the Maltese Cross Cabin.

Love the Dakotas? Check out the amazing small town of Hot Springs, South Dakota!

Have you ever been to Medora? Tell us about it in the comments!




3 Vibrant Fall Days in Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory

Fall brings a vibrant show of colors in Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory. With leaves changing through September and early October, it’s a great time to be outside and soak in the beauty. The valley starts to cool off in the fall, but there are still plenty of accessible outdoor activities to enjoy. Sounds of elk bugling ricochet through the hills, and being able to witness the elk rut is a special event. Spend at least a few days exploring eastern Idaho this fall, and you’ll fall in love with what you find.

This article was created in partnership with Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory. All photos provided by Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory.

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Lodging in Yellowstone Teton Territory

There is a range of accommodation options in the towns scattered throughout Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory. Though temperatures cool down in the autumn months, many campgrounds and RV parks are still open. One of the most special places to stay during fall is Teton Mountain Ranch, where you can have the most intimate (and still safe!) experience with elk and wildlife. Additionally, all other cabin rentals, bed and breakfasts, and hotels are still available, including a tipi stay at Teton Valley Resort.

Dining in Yellowstone Teton Territory

The restaurants throughout Eastern Idaho showcase the local flair. The Badger Creek Cafe in Tetonia, specifically their chicken and waffles, are a must! When passing through Driggs, take your pick of restaurants, then taste true Idaho potato vodka at Grand Teton Distillery. Back in Victor, choose between BBQ, Thai, burgers, and so much more!

Activities – First Day

Find epic mountain views

Escape the crowds and hike a trail in Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the west side of Grand Teton National Park. Miles of trail wind through this gorgeous forest setting, including the Leigh Creek Trail. Marvel at the massive limestone karst geology scattered throughout the region!

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Activities – Second Day

Hike up a canyon to a wind cave

Near Driggs, the 7 mile hike up Darby Canyon to the wind cave is not necessarily for the faint of heart. There is a 2,000 ft. elevation gain to the cave, but the views and features along the way are well worth the effort! Before you reach the wind cave–a spectacular sight itself–you’ll reach a plunging waterfall. If you’re willing to put in the work, this is one of eastern Idaho’s quintessential hikes!

…and/or ride some scenic singletrack

The Horseshoe Area singletrack trails west of Driggs showcase stellar mountain biking, mixed with gorgeous scenery. When riding southbound on the trails, you can look forward to epic views of the Teton mountain range. Warning: don’t forget to watch where you’re riding during this insanely beautiful mountain bike ride!

Grand Targhee Mountain Biking Family Bike Summer Resort Activity

Activities – Third Day

Watch the wildlife

Staying at Teton Mountain Ranch is quite special during the autumn months with courting elk nearby. From the ranch you may hear them bugling, but for a truly special experience, consider hopping aboard an elk tour (available through the end of September). The elk rut is an intense time of year to witness nature, when male elk charge one another, and perform many other mating rituals. During an elk tour, you’ll be safely transported near an elk herd for a up-close encounter.

Find every color of fall, and maybe snag a fish!

Driving around Palisades Reservoir in the fall offers truly spectacular scenery. In a single location, you can place every color of fall, typically through September and into the beginning of October. The drive winds around the reservoir, and there are many pullouts to stop off and snap a photo of the foliage on the surrounding mountainsides. Photographers should note that sunrise is the best time to photograph colors near the lake. At dawn, the sun rises from behind the mountains and casts a lovely glow across the lake. Wildlife tends to be more active in the morning hours as well!

For avid anglers, autumn (and spring, for that matter) is one of the best times for fishing on the reservoir as the temperatures cool down and the fish are more active. Wade-fishing is possible at the reservoir, but the hillsides are relatively steep. If you’re keen to spend time fishing on the lake, the best way is to rent a boat or hire a guide for the day.

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Although Eastern Idaho’s Yellowstone Teton Territory is absolutely stunning during the fall months, it’s also a wonderful place to visit in winter, spring and of course, summer.

 


Eastern Idaho Pin




Billings, Montana from the Saddle

From horse tails to mountain bike trails, I explored the countryside that envelopes Billings, Montana. With amazing trails in all directions from Billings, it was easiest and most comfortable to basecamp in Montana’s “big city”. I definitely took advantage of the plush accommodations and tasty menus around town!

This article was created in partnership with Visit Billings, Montana. All photos by Emily Sierra Photography.

The best basecamp

Arrival

I landed in Billings after traveling up and over Beartooth Pass. This was certainly the most unforgettable way to arrive at Montana’s Trailhead! Massive, jagged peaks soar on all sides of the highway that lead to the city. Last year when I visited the area, though, I flew into the Billings Logan International Airport. I compare all air travel to that experience now, wishing for more quiet and quaint airports like the one in Billings. Even getting a rental car was an easy, simple process!

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Stay + Eat

I loved staying at the Northern Hotel in downtown Billings with modern touches and a convenient location. The foodie in me was so excited at the creative menus around town, and meals to fit every appetite. I was delighted with fresh menus at The Fieldhouse and Walkers–restaurants that are a far cry from a typical Montana steakhouse. Another favorite spot, highly recommended by a variety of locals, was the Burger Dive. This was the perfect place to load up after a big morning on the trails.

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From the saddle of a horse

Within minutes of Billings, I was at Theresa’s family ranch for a horseback tour. Her family has maintained ties to this ranch and the land since the 1940’s! I loved how personable Theresa was on the ride, and her knowledge of local flora, wildlife and history. Bitter Creek Outfitters cap their tours at six people, so we were pretty much guaranteed a quiet, personal experience. Moreover, the scenery was spectacular and so serene. I couldn’t believe we were just outside the city! One of my favorite stops was at a rock ledge overlooking Pictograph Cave State Park–another important, and beautiful, local sight. Horseback riding is a quintessential Montana experience, and heading out with Theresa felt truly authentic.

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From the saddle of a mountain bike

There are many trails around Billings, but I’d like to introduce three of my favorites that I explored. These trails are all within an hour of Billings, each offering a unique adventure. For detailed information and any last-minute gear, swing by the The Spoke Shop in Billings.

Zimmerman Park and the Rimrocks

I don’t know what I love more: the views on this trail or the exciting natural rock features. Zimmerman Park has one main trail that flows throughout, but there are several other side trails that branch off, so you can really build your dream ride. I would recommend this ride in the evening to fully soak up the gorgeous setting sun. Take stops along the famed Rimrocks and enjoy the valley views below. Oh, and did I mention the proximity to Billings? Yeah, the trail is literally minutes from downtown!

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Acton Recreation Area

This mountain bike playground is only 40 minutes from downtown Billings. I drove through farmland and prairies wondering where the hills were, when suddenly–Acton Recreation Area appeared! I was warmly greeted by a couple of gentlemen who helped establish the mountain bike trails out there and were psyched to take another lap and show me the trails. Loads of berms, bumps, jumps, and rollercoaster riding wind around sandstone and ponderosa pine. This place is so much fun!

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Tippet Rise

This was certainly one of the most unique rides I’ve ever completed! In one moment I was chugging up the Meridian Trail, and the next I was standing underneath an enormous art sculpture. Spanning the 12,000-acre working cattle and sheep ranch are various large-scale art sculptures with miles of trails connecting them. The Tippet Rise Art Center also hosts classical chamber music in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

“Tippet Rise celebrates the concept that art, music, architecture, and nature are inextricably linked in the human experience, each making the others more powerful,” (tippetrise.org).

All of this beauty is further enhanced by the backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains in the distance. Riding here is not for the faint of heart (I rode approximately 15 miles and climbed over 2,000 ft. to see all the sculptures), but it’s certainly spectacular and totally worth the effort! I loved reaching a sculpture, walking around and underneath it, and being the only one there to appreciate it. Thanks to the center’s reservation system, Tippet Rise will never be overcrowded. Oh, and it’s totally free to ride and appreciate the art out there!

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From the saddle of a horse to the saddle of a bicycle, I really enjoyed what Billings, Montana has to offer. There are so many unique ways to appreciate the local flair in and around the city!

Billings, Montana 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




Re-Energize Between National Parks in Gillette, Wyoming

There’s energy in Gillette, Wyoming. In fact, Gillette is known as the “Energy Capital of the Nation” because 35 percent of the nation’s coal is mined in and around Gillette. But, among the locals, the energy comes across as pride, self-sufficiency, hard work, and a desire to share their place with the world.

Story written in cooperation with Visit Gillette & Wright, Wyoming.

About Gillette, Wyoming

Ranching, then coal, oil and gas allowed Gillette to prosper, grow and diversify. Gillette has come into its own as the third largest city in Wyoming and has become a one- or two-night must-stop for Yellowstone to Devils Tower to Mount Rushmore visitors, gastro tourists, history buffs, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts alike.

Gillette is located on Interstate 90 in northeast Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin between the Black Hills and the Bighorn Mountains. It is a modern, growing city nestled among rolling grassy hills. It’s perfect buffalo habitat, so naturally you’ll want to check out one of the world’s oldest and largest buffalo ranches, Durham Buffalo Ranch. It is just 35 miles south of Gillette, near Gillette’s in-county neighbor, Wright. Group tours of the ranch are available through Visit Gillette.

The star of the area’s geological features is the vast deposit of low-sulphur coal just below the topsoil. The coal is highly sought after because of its low sulfur content, which allows it to burn cleaner. Some of the world’s largest surface coal mines are near Gillette and Wright. Just east of Gillette, the Wyo-Dak Coal Mine can be easily seen from Interstate 90.

Foodies Welcome

Gillette’s growth has allowed it to ride out the boom-and-bust cycles of the energy industry a little easier through increased diversification. Many miners also own businesses that they operate during their off hours and seven-on, seven-off shift schedules. This resilience has spurred a renaissance of sorts and created a vibrant community with some truly unique tourist attractions, modern amenities and an incredible culinary and art scene that belies Gillette’s former reputation as a rough-and-tumble mining town.

With two craft breweries, Wyoming’s first meadery and over 70 restaurants, Gillette has become a regional foodie haven—to the delight of visitors and locals alike. From a wood-fired pizza place that has been named Best Pizza in Wyoming by time.com, Money Magazine and Yelp to a South American rotisserie chicken restaurant located in a former gas station, the locally-sourced culinary fare in Gillette and Wright is as good as you will find in the region.

Other Gillette Must-Sees

After you have toured the buffalo ranch and coal mine—and enjoyed wonderful food—make some time to check out the museums in Gillette and Wright. The Rockpile Historical Museum in Gillette tells the story of Campbell County through artifacts, displays, and presentations. The Frontier Auto Museum & Frontier Relics Antiques is right across the street from the Rockpile Museum—and it is also well worth your time. The sprawling space is the private collection of the Wandler family and includes many restored automobiles, wagons, petroleum signs and vintage gas pumps. Then, travel south 40 miles to Wright and experience the Wright Centennial Museum —the historical museum of the Wright area.

So, when traveling between the iconic western national parks this summer, be sure to devote some time in Gillette. It will energize your great western vacation.

Gillette Wyoming Pin




Can’t Miss Experiences – Pocatello, Idaho

Pocatello checked a lot of travel boxes for me. There were plenty of outdoor experiences, yet when the rain came, I found endless museums to explore. The food exceeded my expectations, and I fell in love with the neon signs downtown. I felt like life ran at a slower pace, and made for a wonderful vacation. In no particular order, here are some experiences that you should hit when visiting Pocatello, Idaho–the “Gateway to the Northwest”.

This article was created in partnership with Visit Pocatello.

Hit the Trails

There are over 1,000 miles of maintained recreation trails around Pocatello. Yes, I said over 1K! Pocatello is clearly a trail-setter’s paradise. Hiking is perhaps the simplest way to enjoy the outdoors around the city. For mountain bikers, of all skill levels, this place is a real gem. Locals who have spent decades in the area can attest to the growth in popularity, but with so many trails, it’s easy to find a quiet ride. Even after a short rain, the trails were ready to ride with “hero-dirt” status.

Mountain Biking on the City Creek Trail System in Pocatello, Idaho

Neon Sign Walking Tour

Pocatello has one of the most comprehensive collections of vintage signs that I have seen. The Old Town Pocatello Foundation launched an initiative in 2012 to “Relight the Night,” and revamp many of the town’s signs and the neons that once made them sparkle. This ongoing community effort offers a shiny glimpse at local history. The majority of signs are scattered throughout the old town, so grab a cup of coffee and wander around.

Chief Theater neon sign, revitalized as part of the Relight the Night project in Pocatello, Idaho

Visit the Museums

While the rain trickled outside, I took the opportunity to visit some of the area’s museums–and boy, I was impressed!

The Quirky Ones

Right in old town, the Museum of Clean is perhaps the most unique museum I have ever visited. The world’s largest janitor brought a grin to my face, as did the “Orchestra of Clean”–an art installation of “creatures” made from cleaning devices (think man playing a harp that’s made out of a toilet seat). Truly, this place was fascinating! I learned about different vacuum cleaners, and even different air purifying plants. The museum works to promote clean living from your house to the air we breathe. This place is a must-stop!

Museum of Clean - Pocatello, Idaho

Blackfoot is just up the road from Pocatello, and is THE potato capital of the world! Potato pride runs deep in Idaho, and there was no better place to learn about the history of potatoes than the Idaho Potato Museum. While the museum offers historic information, there are plenty of quirky claims to spot around the museum such as the world’s largest potato crisp and a collection of potato mashing devices. Before you leave, indulge in a loaded baked potato and try the potato chocolate milk!

Idaho Potato Museum - Blackfoot, Idaho

The Cultural Museums

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum is located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation just outside Pocatello. I learned so much about the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and their history. The gorgeous, vintage beadwork on display definitely caught my eye! I was also inspired reading about local skate legend, Bryant “Cheddar” Chapo, and the good name that he brings to his people. Souvenirs and artwork can be purchased at the neighboring casino on the reservation.

Shoshone Bannock Tribal Museum

The Fort Hall Replica is a great stop in Pocatello. There you can witness the lives of 19th Century fur traders, early explorers, trappers, Native Americans, pioneers, gold seekers, and all who passed through this “Gateway to the Northwest”–a prominent trade and transport junction.

Fort Hall Replica - Pocatello, Idaho

Explore Massacre Rocks State Park

Only 30 minutes from Pocatello is Massacre Rocks State Park. Distinctive massive rocks and sagebrush scatter down to the banks of the scenic Snake River. Trails meander through the park, offering hiking, biking, fishing and bird watching opportunities. Frisbee golf players will love the course terrain at this park as well!

Massacre Rocks State Park - Pocatello, Idaho

All photos by Emily Sierra Photography.

 

Pocatello Idaho Pin




Southeast Idaho: Road Trip on the Water

Technically I drove my way through Southeast Idaho, but I connected all points of interest following the allure of the state’s fresh, natural waters. I found turquoise blue water, naturally carbonated water, and even natural hot springs that seemed to cure every ail imaginable. With a swimsuit and a pair of water-ready sandals, I hit the road.

This article was created in partnership with Southeast Idaho High Country Tourism, Idaho.

Bear Lake

On the lake

I was so excited to explore this bear of a lake by kayak (pun intended!). Seriously, the lake is massive, measuring in at 109 square miles! The water shimmers a turquoise blue thanks to the refraction of limestone deposits in the lake. Bear Lake is commonly referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for the color. Back to kayaking, I was determined! It was a bit windy the afternoon I chose, but that didn’t stop the kind folks at Epic Rentals from outfitting me for the afternoon. They warned about staying close to shore, and I quickly understood why. Even with the breeze, I loved floating over the crystal blue water, mesmerized by the snowy mountains in the distance.

Kayaking on Bear Lake, Utah, near the Idaho Border

Off the lake

Be sure to grab a raspberry shake in Garden City, then head north to visit the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge. In the evening, the birds were quite active. I was lucky enough to see baby geese swimming alongside their mothers, caught glimpses of the Yellow-headed Blackbird, and I even spotted an owl! Detouring to this wildlife refuge was a bit spur-of-the-moment, but I’d highly recommend a visit.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho

Soda Springs & Hooper Springs

The world’s only “captive geyser” (Guinness Book of World Records, legit) is in the middle of town in Soda Springs. Geyser eruptions take place every hour, on the hour, shooting carbonated water 100 feet into the sky! Just up the road from downtown is Hooper Springs, another fascinating water stop. There, naturally carbonated water bubbles up from a spring. You could actually mix your own soda if you want! Visiting these sights are a super easy stop on a road trip through southeast Idaho, and totally worth it.

Soda Springs Geyser, Idaho just before eruptionSampling naturally carbonated water at Hooper Springs, Idaho

The Snake River

Wow, this river is simply one of the most scenic rivers that I have been to. Fish, float, or just get near the water to appreciate it. Massacre Rocks State Park near Pocatello is a great place to take in the views of the river, and you can even rent a stand up paddle board (SUP) to take out from there!

Snake River at Massacre Rocks State Park - Near Pocatello, Idaho

Lava Hot Springs

The picturesque downtown of Lava (locals pronounce it LAH-va, as in “LAVender”) has been welcoming visitors for years. On one end of town, super-soakers can indulge in the variety of hot pools. Temperatures in the hot pools range from 104° to 112°F. A few blocks away, Lava claims the only facility of its kind in the Intermountain West, the Olympic Swimming Complex. Swimming lanes, a diving tower, and slides galore will bring enjoyment for the whole family.

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho - Hot Pools Lava Hot Springs, Idaho - Olympic Swimming Complex

While there are several boutique hotels in Lava, I opted for a stay in a yurt down the road at Downata Hot Springs (pronounced “down-at-a”). There are also hot and cool pools there to enjoy, and I loved the down-home, family atmosphere. New in 2019, the resort will be offering covered wagons that you can sleep in. With tipis and a variety of other lodging, Downata is bringing “glamping” to a whole new level!

Downata Hot Springs, Idaho - Glamping, TipiDownata Hot Springs Resort, Idaho - Hot Pools

At the end of my trip I felt rejuvenated, yet still wishing I had more time to explore southeast Idaho. Beyond the dreamy waters I encountered, there were so many other points of interest I couldn’t see. Until next time!

All photos by Emily Sierra Photography.

Southeast Idaho