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  • Hiking around Devils Tower National Monument near Sundance, Wyoming
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    Sundance: Natural Wonders and Archeological Sites

  • Bottles of mead at the Viking-themed Big Lost Meadery in Gillette, Wyoming
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    Gillette: A Mining Town with Major Culture

  • Taking a selfie with a horse-themed mural in downtown Buffalo, Wyoming
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    Buffalo: An Authentic Wild West Adventure

  • Sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the views outside the Brinton Museum in Sheridan, Wyoming
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    Sheridan: Museums and Artistry in the ‘King of Cowboy Towns’

  • Shell Falls Interpretive Site in Wyoming’s Bighorn National Forest
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    Greybull, Worland and the Red Gulch/Alkali National Backcountry Byway

  • Overlooking Bighorn Canyon near Lovell, Wyoming
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    Lovell: Serene Open Spaces

  • A competitor at the Cody Nite Rodeo in Wyoming
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    Cody: Buffalo Bill’s Hometown and Gateway to Yellowstone

The vibrant hues of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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From Devils Tower to Yellowstone: Wyoming Heritage, Small Towns and Breathtaking Nature

  • Route distance:
    1,400.00
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Travel this stretch of Wyoming from one amazing monument to a world-renowned national park.

Hold onto your cowboy hat because there’s an array of awe-inspiring sights along this Wyoming road trip. You’ll find a bevy of exceptional stops along the way – from settlements of famous outlaws and rustic cowboy towns to unforgettable landscapes and sprawling scenic byways.

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Hiking around Devils Tower National Monument near Sundance, Wyoming
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Sundance: Natural Wonders and Archeological Sites

Fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) and rent a car to drive into Wyoming. It’s a long but scenic haul (about 5 hours) up the eastern side of the state to Sundance, so carve out some time for sightseeing. In the state’s capital city, Cheyenne, highlights include the Wyoming State Museum and Downtown Depot Plaza. Fort Laramie National Historic Site is another intriguing stop along the way for Wild West history.

Continue northbound to Sundance, a tiny town with big history, which you can make your home base for visiting the incredible Devils Tower National Monument. Before heading to Devils Tower, visit the Vore Buffalo Jump, a significant archaeological site for learning about the late-prehistoric Plains Indians. Over the course of 300 years, five or more different tribes are believed to have used this natural sinkhole to hunt and herd bison over the edge, securing an important food supply for survival. Study of the site continues today, and visitors can see excavated bones and tools, as well as overlook the sinkhole.

Your next stop is west of town at Devils Tower, where you’ll be awestruck by this spectacular igneous rock butte. A site deemed sacred by the Northern Plains Indians and the USA’s first national monument, the nearly 400-meter monolith draws onlookers from around the world. It was even featured in Steven Spielberg’s classic film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. For the best angles, set off on the Red Beds Trail, a wide 4.8-kilometer loop circling the butte. You might also spot rock climbers scaling the near vertical walls. Sunset viewing is optimal for taking photos; stick around for a stargazing session led by a park ranger in the summer months.

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121 km
1.25 hours by car
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Bottles of mead at the Viking-themed Big Lost Meadery in Gillette, Wyoming
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Gillette: A Mining Town with Major Culture

Drive Interstate 90 westbound for about an hour, and you’ll arrive in laid-back and welcoming Gillette. Gillette is known for its coal mining industry, but it’s also got interesting museums, access to nature and a burgeoning culinary scene. If mining interests you, take the bus tour at Eagle Butte Mine to learn more about one of Wyoming’s biggest industries. After your tour, head into town for authentic mead served in a cow horn at Big Lost Meadery. If mead isn’t your style, you’ll find house-made craft beer as well. Don’t be surprised if a friendly staff member gives you a tour. Before getting back on the road, stop by the Campbell County Rockpile Museum for a free lesson on local history and culture as told through exhibits featuring a replica homesteader’s shack and blacksmith shop, plus saddles, Native American artifacts, fossils, wagons and other memorabilia. It’ll help you imagine this landscape as the pioneers did as you continue on your road trip west.

129 km
1.25 hours by car
03
Taking a selfie with a horse-themed mural in downtown Buffalo, Wyoming
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Buffalo: An Authentic Wild West Adventure

Tucked between sweeping plains and the Bighorn Mountains, Buffalo provides easy access to wide-open spaces. In the summer, camp under the stars and hike along trails with astounding vistas. During the winter, snow shoe on freshly fallen snow or cross country ski on alpine trails. To get a feel for the true Wild West, stay and play at the TA Guest Ranch, which offers horseback riding, history tours, campfire stories, fishing and hiking among the scenic beauty of the region. Step back in time in downtown Buffalo, the entirety of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Districts. One must-see is the Historic Occidental Hotel, which has welcomed a number of legendary faces including Teddy Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Butch Cassidy and Calamity Jane. You can check out the memorabilia in the lobby, or have a meal in The Virginian Restaurant – but don’t miss a drink in The Occidental Saloon. You can still see original bullet holes in the ceiling from the time when this was a hot spot for days-long poker games that caused the occasional dispute. Mosey up to the bar in the exact same spot where rough-and-tumble cowboys and gamblers once drank. The Wild West adventures continue in your next stop.

59 km
0.75 hours by car
04
Sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the views outside the Brinton Museum in Sheridan, Wyoming
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Sheridan: Museums and Artistry in the ‘King of Cowboy Towns’

Continue following Interstate 90 north to Sheridan, a Bighorn Mountain destination fondly known as the “King of Cowboy Towns.” The Main Street District here features more than 70 historic buildings and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can’t come to Sheridan without dropping into King’s Saddlery, a full-service Western tack (or equestrian supply) store. Opened in 1963 by master craftsman Don King, it’s known throughout the world for its high-quality ropes and saddles. Inside, there’s also a museum dedicated to King. Both Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan were avid collectors of King’s leather saddles and creations. Another royal tie-in can be found at the historic Sheridan Inn, home to one of two bars that Queen Victoria gave to Buffalo Bill Cody, who helped found the hotel.

Round out your trip with a visit to The Brinton Museum. It’s a fantastic, unexpected find, housed at the owner’s former ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Must-sees include Western art (with works by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell), prints by John James Audubon and more. Of special interest is an extensive collection of Native American artwork and artifacts along with a trove of rare books, historical letters and documents. It’s a special spot where you can get your cultural fill before driving deeper into the landscape that inspired the artists.

216 km
3 hours by car
05
Shell Falls Interpretive Site in Wyoming’s Bighorn National Forest
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Greybull, Worland and the Red Gulch/Alkali National Backcountry Byway

It’s time for a happy detour into the scenic backcountry. On your way southwest, stop at Shell Falls Interpretive Site within the Bighorn National Forest. This ancient waterfall, named for the shell fossils found in its canyon walls, is known as “the thundering heartbeat of the Bighorn Mountains.” Continue on to Greybull, an ideal basecamp for outdoor adventure or a slow-paced, serene retreat, located at the intersection of the Bighorn and Greybull rivers. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this area by driving the Red Gulch/Alkali National Backcountry Byway, which starts just east of town. As you journey along the route, be prepared for a prehistoric vibe to unfold in a landscape of hoodoos and sandstone cliffs. Kids will adore setting out in the path of dinosaurs at the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite and seeing the petroglyphs at Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site.

Next, head south to nearby Worland, where a wondrous mammoth statue greets you at the entrance of the Washakie Museum and Cultural Center. Learn how the historical people of the Big Horn Basin established their existence as ancient mammoth hunters. Blending geology, archaeology and paleontology, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the area’s first settlers and the role played by the majestic mammoth. For more picturesque Wyoming landscapes, travel back north to Lovell.

113 km
1.25 hours by car
06
Overlooking Bighorn Canyon near Lovell, Wyoming
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Lovell: Serene Open Spaces

If you romanticize Wyoming with visions of rugged, wide open and spectacular spaces, your dream will come to life at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, which you can explore from the northern Wyoming town of Lovell. Look out onto the stunning Bighorn Canyon from its more than 27 kilometers of hiking trails for views that deserve to be photographed. For a peaceful and serene experience in nearby Bighorn National Forest, hike to the top of Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark (a 6.4-kilometer, round-trip hike) to a sacred Native American site – a ceremonial arrange of rocks and cairns – with beautiful views. Save time for exploring the peaceful town of Lovell, too; its highlights include the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, Main Street’s Mural Park and its many rose gardens. Next, you’re headed onward for a rendezvous with Buffalo Bill and Yellowstone National Park.

75 km
1 hour by car
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A competitor at the Cody Nite Rodeo in Wyoming
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Cody: Buffalo Bill’s Hometown and Gateway to Yellowstone

Just an hour’s drive southwest of Lovell will land you in Cody, home of legendary showman and frontiersman, Buffalo Bill. Located on the Shoshone River, Cody is a true frontier town with a rich history. Your first stop should be the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where you can delve into art, artifacts and intriguing exhibits all paying tribute to the American West within a five-museum complex. Stay awhile, and attend the Cody Nite Rodeo, which runs nightly all summer long. Cody is also the ideal gateway to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. On your way to the park, stop by the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center to learn about the historic dam built in the early 1900s. For more Buffalo Bill history along the route, stop by the Pahaska Tepee Resort to see Buffalo Bill’s original Yellowstone lodge nestled in the shadow of Cody Peak.

As you approach the national park, you’ll encounter incredible views of Yellowstone Lake. Beautiful and inspiring, it’s the largest high elevation lake in North America. Continue west to witness perhaps the park’s most famous feature – Old Faithful. The geyser erupts at regular intervals, spewing anywhere from 14,000 to 31,800 liters of geothermal water up to 56 meters into the air. Keep your camera ready for Grand Prismatic Spring with its shockingly bright color scheme – a brilliant blue center with a rainbow ring encircling it. Next, drive to the show-stopping Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. For the best views, hike to the Upper or Lower Falls, or check out the scenic overlook at Artist Point located on a cliff’s edge. Finally, don’t miss the Mammoth Hot Springs located near the north entrance. Walk the boardwalk around the Upper and Lower terraces for excellent views of the limestone formations with more than 50 hot springs flowing over them. It’s easy to see why Yellowstone is considered a national treasure. Book your connecting flight to Denver from Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD) in Cody; you’ll be looking over your photos the entire return trip.