Yellowstone National Park is a destination that belongs on just about everyone’s bucket list. The great thing about the Yellowstone experience (and neighboring Grand Teton National Park) is what awaits after you leave the park. One gem of particular shine is the town of Dubois, Wyoming.
Located just 80 miles from the South Entrance to Yellowstone, Dubois is a great place to spend three days getting to know the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem after checking the park off your bucket list.
As you depart from Yellowstone going south, you’ll be thrilled to see traffic thinning out. Taking a left onto Highway 278/26 at Moran Junction will have you facing an open road with stunning views. Take your time over the next 55 miles, as Togwottee Pass is a Scenic Byway that offers wildlife sightings, breathtaking vistas, and more than a few places to pull over and stretch your legs.
Watch for the Pinnacles on the scenic byway. Photo: Bill Sincavage
First stop: Brooks Lake Falls! The Falls Campground, about 30 miles from Moran Junction, is a perfect point to stop and enjoy a crowd-free attraction. Only about a half-mile hike from the campground, you’ll be greeted with a stunning, private view of the waterfall. Enjoy a picnic in the campground before continuing down the scenic byway.
Dubois has the feel of a cowboy town, but you’ll find its history is more than that. Before you reach town, stop at the Tie Hack Memorial to learn about the logging and Scandinavian influences on Dubois’ character.
As you enter town, it’s time for a lesson in pronunciation: You just drove over Togwotee Pass, which is pronounced TOE-guh-tee. Now you’re entering Dubois, which is pronounced DEW-boyce. The story behind the town’s pronunciation is one to take home with you: the community selected a name for itself (Never Sweat or Tibo, depending on the source), but the Wyoming Territory Senator didn’t like the name. He decided instead to name the town after himself. Having no choice in the spelling of their town’s name, the townspeople did have a say on how they say it—and they chose not to do so correctly out of spite!
A full moon over Dubois’ main street. Photo: Bill Sincavage
Learn more about the stories and history of Dubois at the absolutely charming Dubois Museum. It’s located right next door to the National Bighorn Sheep Center, which is dedicated to the largest wintering herd of bighorn sheep in North America. If you visit in the fall or winter, you can take a tour to spot the bighorn rams as they fight to catch the eye of the ewes. Bet you didn’t imagine that the wildlife of your Yellowstone experience would only get better in the neighboring town!
Bighorn sheep near Dubois Photo: Bill Sincavage
After all that learning, you’ll surely be ready to sit down for a meal. Grab a burger and a slice of pie at the Cowboy Cafe, then stroll the wooden sidewalks of town to relax into the pace of quiet Wyoming life. If you’re lucky, local pianist Monte Baker will be tickling the keys on a sidewalk piano to really set the tone for your Dubois afternoon. Be sure to step into the shops on the main street of Rams Horn, as the work of local artists will leave you in awe.
When the time comes for dinner, treat yourself to a special meal at the Lone Buffalo, then settle in for a peaceful night in your own personal cabin at Jakey’s Fork Homestead.
Day 2: Greater Yellowstone Adventures
Enjoy a homemade breakfast provided by your host and listen to her tales about her years living in Dubois. Now that you’re fully rested and fueled up, it’s time for some adventure. First things first: Don’t forget your water and sunscreen!
Start with a morning of fishing with Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Flyfishing. This Native-owned operation is the only guide who can take you fishing on the Wind River Indian Reservation, so it’s a special local business to support. If you head out on your own, Wind River Gear can help you stock up on your fishing gear and tips on the latest hatch.
Sunset over the Wind River near Dubois. Photo: Bill Sincavage
No fishing trip should be rushed, so we recommend making this a full-day trip. However, if you prefer to mix it up, spend the morning fishing then head back into town. Grab a slice at Noon Rock Pizza, then gear up for a bike ride. The Dubois Overlook will be one of the most dramatic starting points you’ve ever seen on a mountain bike ride. With 360-degree views, you can see all of town as well as three types of mountain building processes (volcanic, tectonic, glacial). The fascinating geology of your Yellowstone experience certainly doesn’t end at the park gate.
View of the sunrise from the Dubois Overlook. Photo: Bill Sincavage
After you’ve taken it all in, it’s time to hit the trail. The Overlook Trail zips around the colorful Dubois rock formations with multiple route options totaling 4.2 miles of trail. The best part? When you’re all wiped out, you’re still in the heart of town and can grab a drink and a snack before you get hangry!
Day 3: Walk Through Time
After another lovely breakfast with your hosts at Jakey’s Fork Homestead, you’re going to fly through history today. You’ll start with ancient history just south of Dubois. The Dubois Museum will help you find the petroglyphs and tell you all about them. Be sure to leave the petroglyphs exactly as you found them. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep in the area, too!
After your historic sight-seeing hike in the Trail Lakes area, hop back on Highway 287 south from town. Less than 10 miles later, you’ll stop at the impressive National Museum of Military Vehicles. Be sure you plan for lots of time to explore, as the grounds—and many of the the artifacts—are massive.
Just think, in 15 minutes you’ll go from learning about very early America to recent American history! On top of that, your Yellowstone experience started with the pre-history of a super volcano! We imagine your future holds a return visit to Dubois, perhaps for an all-inclusive stay with a guest ranch, complete with rodeos and square dancing.