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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

dubois, friday night rodeo, wyoming rodeo

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

cupcakes, riverton, sweet tooth

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

Wild Horse Sanctuary, wind river range, wild mustangs, see wild horses, see wild mustangs in the west

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

museums, wind river museums, american west museum, history museum

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

Popo Agie falls, waterfalls, waterfalls wyoming, hiking wyoming

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

South Pass, South Pass City, pan for gold, mountain towns wyoming, historic, historic town, mining town

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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The 6 Best National Park Scenic Drives

Scenic drives offer great opportunities to see the national parks from the comfort of your car. They’re a fantastic alternative for those with limited mobility or kids. Others may just need a break from all that walking! Be aware that many roads close during the winter months, and to always check for potential closures before your trip. Here are six of our favorite national park scenic drives from across the nation.

Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Trail Ridge Road, Driving tour, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo by Tevin Trinh

This scenic drive boasts the highest continuously paved route in the United States. On your journey, you’ll reach a maximum height of over 12,000 feet! Along the way, you’ll encounter majestic views of the Continental Divide, flowering columbine, and autumnal golden aspens. Keep an eye out for elk year-round and other wildlife, especially at dusk and dawn.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, driving scene

Photo by Christopher Zarriello

This 50-mile highway crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, where you’ll come face-to-face with magnificent scenery, as well as mountain goats and sheep. A park-operated bus tour can help you avoid road congestion in the summertime, or drive it during the spring or fall to avoid traffic. The Montana national parks truly can’t be beat!

Park Loop Road, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

sunrise teton park road, grand tetons, grand teton national park, yellowstone national park

Photo by Harry Wade

Mountains, meadows, and lakes, oh my! Grand Teton’s star attraction offers a spectacular scenic drive through diverse plains and mountains. You’ll also see plenty of wildlife. Be careful as the bison and elk don’t always look both ways when they cross the road!

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

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Travel up this mountain for the first glimpse of the sun’s rays as they brush the eastern coast first thing in the morning, and the first tentative appearances of the stars as they emerge in the night sky. You won’t be able to help feeling awed and peaceful here. Moose sightings are not uncommon in this area, especially at peak sunrise and sunset time.

Kolob Canyons Road, Zion National Park, Utah

Kolob Canyons Road, Zion, Zion national park, scenic drive, drive

Photo by David Straight on Unsplash

Sweeping red mountains tower over the earth along this scenic drive through Zion National Park. And at only five miles, it requires less of a commitment than the others on this list —great if you want to pause and take a short hike or some photos along the way!

Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Tioga Pass

Photo by David Rule

Begin at Tioga Pass and travel through marble mountain ranges dotted with shrubs and trees. You’ll drive through picturesque Tuolumne Meadows on your way to shimmering Tenaya Lake, then take out your cameras at Olmstead Point to capture some great photos of Half Dome. Plan about three hours for a round trip, but definitely don’t miss this one!

You can learn more about scenic drives available in Yosemite and Zion, plus others found in the American Southwest, by reading our itinerary here.

Want to learn more about scenic drives through the national parks? Contact our experts at Visit USA Parks for more information, and for help crafting the perfect vacation.

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58 National Parks in the United States

Need some help planning your national park road trip? We’ve compiled a list of U.S. national parks by state. Check them off state by state, or pick a route! Either way, we’ve got you covered.

Some national parks, like Yellowstone, are so enormous you could take two weeks and still not see the whole thing. Other national parks, like Joshua Tree, can be comfortably enjoyed within one day. We have compiled a state-by-state list of 58 national parks in the United States. We hope this list will help provide you with all the information to help you plan your route.

Carbon County WY

NATIONAL PARKS IN THE U.S. BY STATE

Apart from hiking, biking and water sports (the most common highlights of national parks) the following highlights are rather special to the individual parks and may help you to make your choice on which to prioritize for your visit.

alaska national park, whale watching

ALASKA

  1. Denali National Park and Preserve
    Highest peak in North America (Mt. McKinley).
  2. Gates of the Arctic National Park
    Northernmost park administered by the National Park Service, roughly the size of Switzerland, no established roads, visitor centers or other facilities.
  3. Glacier Bay National Park
    Terrestrial and marine sanctuary, no marked trails or roads, many visit on cruise ships.
  4. Katmai National Park and Preserve
    Large population of brown bears, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, named for Mount Katmai (stratovolcano).
  5. Kenai Fjords National Park
    Smallest national park of Alaska, carved by glaciers flowing from the Harding Ice Field to the sea, rugged arctic landscape.
  6. Kobuk Valley National Park
    Only backcountry, half a million caribou, sand dunes.
  7. Lake Clark National Park
    Active volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, birch forests and tundra.

AMERICAN SAMOA

National Park of American Samoa
South pacific paradise, three volcanic islands, only U.S. national park south of the equator; tropical rainforests, beaches, coral reefs, cliffs.

grand canyon national park

ARIZONA

  1. Grand Canyon National Park
    One of the symbols of America, one of the most visited national parks, largest canyons in the world.
  2. Petrified Forest National Park
    Wide variety of late triassic fossils (incl. trees, ferns and giant reptiles), geological formations, forest with ancient ruins and historic buildings.
  3. Saguaro National Park
    Named for the giant Saguaro Cactus, unique desert landscape and grassland.

ARKANSAS

Hot Springs National Park
Smallest national park by area, known for its hot spring water, bathhouses of a bygone era.

yosemite national park, yosemite

CALIFORNIA

  1. Channel Islands National Park
    Only reachable by park concessioner boat/plane or private boats, one of the least-visited national parks, whale watching (in summer, largest gathering of blue whales in the world).
  2. Death Valley National Park
    Part of the Mojave Desert included, hottest and driest national park, yet surprisingly diverse, sand dunes, canyons, salt flats, mountains and valleys.
  3. Joshua Tree National Park
    Joshua trees, part of the Mojave Desert included, teeming with life, palm oases, wildflowers.
  4. Kings Canyon National Park
    Giant Sequoia Groves, High Sierra Peaks, old-growth coniferous forests.
  5. Lassen Volcanic National Park
    World’s largest plug dome volcano, all four types of volcanoes there are – all in one park: plug dome, shield, cinder, stratovolcanoes.
  6. Redwood National Park
    Tallest trees on Earth, wild coastal deltas and gorges, colonies of sea lions.
  7. Sequoia National Park
    Enormous redwood trees, five of the ten largest trees in the world, massive exposed granite walls.
  8. Yosemite National Park
    Waterfalls, giant sequoias, valleys and sheer cliffs.

aspen, maroon bells, colorado, hiking

COLORADO

  1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Named for the darkness of Balck Canyon, like no other canyon in North America due to narrowness, depth and sheer walls.
  2. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
    Tallest sand dunes in North America, no marked hiking trails, after rain it offers possibilities for sliding down the dunes on sleds, sandboards or snowboards.
  3. Mesa Verde National Park
    Cliff dwellings of the ancestral Puebloans, more than 4,000 archeological sites.
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park
    Continental divide, haven for off-piste skiers in winter, can be traveled by car.

everglades, everglades national park, florida parks

FLORIDA

  1. Biscayne National Park
    Third-longest living coral reef in the world, 95% water.
  2. Dry Tortugas National Park
    Many people are unaware of it as it is closer to Cuba than to the U.S. mainland, underwater wonderland.
  3. Everglades National Park
    Only subtropical wilderness in the country, network of rivers and wetlands.

HAWAII

  1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
    Two volcanoes which are among the world’s most active, yet predominantly non-violent eruptions, visitors can get very close to watch.
  2. Haleakalā National Park
    Cinder cones, a dormant volcano and tropical paradies.

KENTUCKY

Mammoth Cave National Park
Longest known caving system in the world, well-known for its cave tours.

acadia national park

MAINE

Acadia National Park
America’s first sunrise, without having to abandon modern comforts.

MICHIGAN

Isle Royale National Park
Historic shipwrecks, around the main island plus 400 smaller ones.

MINNESOTA

Voyageurs National Park
Collage of hardwood tree forests and waterways.

Hidden Lake Trail, Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA, Wildflowers glacier national Park

MONTANA

Glacier National Park
Over 740 miles of trails, historic Swiss-style chalet landmarks.

NEVADA

Great Basin National Park
Marble caves, paved scenic drive.

NEW MEXICO

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Impressive network of over 110 limestone caves, seventh-longest in the world, impressive bat outflights.

Asheville, north carolina

NORTH CAROLINA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
America’s most visited national park, named for the prevalence of fog, one of the rainiest habitats in the U.S., abundance of waterfalls, modern campsites with amenities.

NORTH DAKOTA

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
View the location of Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch.

OHIO

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Waterfalls and caves along the crooked river, is among the smallest and newest national parks.

Hells Canyon, Oregon, Parks

OREGON

Crater Lake National Park
Deepest lake in the U.S., with exceptional purity and clarity.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Congaree National Park
Largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in North America with river sweeping through the floodplains.

Wild Horse Sanctuary Hot Springs South Dakota

SOUTH DAKOTA

  1. Badlands National Park
    Buttes, pinnacles and spires, fossils of saber tooth cats, rhinoceroses and other bygone creatures.
  2. Wind Cave National Park
    Complex underground labyrinth of corridors with rare boxwork, third-longest cave in the U.S. and fifth-longest in the world.

TENNESSEE

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Same as North Carolina: America’s most visited nation park, named for the prevalence of fog, one of the rainiest habitats in the U.S., abundance of waterfalls, modern campsites with amenities.

big bend national park

TEXAS

  1. Big Bend National Park
    More than 200 miles of hiking trails across diverse terrain and scenic drives.
  2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
    A seemingly vast emptiness that is anything but empty, ancient marine fossils, highest peak in all of Texas.

UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS

Virgin Islands National Park
Warm waters, white sandy beaches, wonderful coral, subtropical climate.

bryce canyon national park, utah parks

UTAH

  1. Arches National Park
    Red rock landscape, more than 2,000 sandstone arches, natural bridges, towers, rock fins and other impressive formations.
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park
    Labyrinth of hoodoos at more than 7,800 feet above sea level.
  3. Canyonlands National Park
    Red, orange and yellow canyons, mesas and buttes.
  4. Capitol Reef National Park
    Waterpocket Fold (“wrinkle on the earth“), in combination with crevices, canyons, domes and bridges.
  5. Zion National Park
    Towering sandstone monoliths, swooping rock arches and painted canyon walls.

VIRGINIA

Shenandoah National Park
Scenic Skyline Drive.

WASHINGTON

  1. Mount Rainier National Park
    Tallest peak in the State (stratovolcano), talks around the campfire by park rangers.
  2. North Cascades National Park
    Experience the mix of glaciers and mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, temperate rainforests, marshes and swamps.
  3. Olympic National Park
    Habitats ranging from coastline to dense forests, to alpine grassland and glaciers.

Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park

WYOMING

  1. Grand Teton National Park
    Pleasing combination of majestic natural beauty and tourist-friendly convenience.
  2. Yellowstone National Park
    The world’s first national park, more than half of the world’s geysers.

Canada national parks, national parks in Canada

44 NATIONAL PARKS IN CANADA

While we have visited most of the national parks in the United States, Canada is in no short supply of natural beauty. Canada’s geographic size is much larger than the United States, and some national parks can be found in very remote areas. While Banff, and Jasper belong to the more common national parks that can be combined with a U.S. road trip, there are quite a few unknown areas that would be worth exploring. For complete information about Canada’s national parks, you can find more information here.

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