The US state of Wyoming is renowned for its rugged beauty and wide open spaces. It is the most sparsely populated state in the country with an estimated population of 578,759 as of 2019. And yet, the state ranks as the tenth largest when it comes to land mass. Believe it or not, Wyoming made significant contributions to the advancement of women in America as you can see here.
But, did you know that Wyoming is home to not just one or two, but three firsts in the country? It has the first national park in Yellowstone National Park, the first national monument in Devils Tower National Monument, and the first national forest in Shoshone National Forest. All three of them are well worth your time for what to do in Wyoming.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwestern portion of Wyoming, near the state border with Montana and Idaho. As I have previously mentioned, this is the oldest national park in the United States, having been designated a national park in March of 1872. Yellow National Park is best known for its breathtaking geysers. The most famous of these is Old Faithful.
Steamboat Geyser is the largest active geyser in the world. A few other geysers at the national park include Castle Geyser, Lion Geyser, and Beehive Geyser. Overall, there are on average 465 active geysers at Yellowstone National Park in a given year. In addition to the geysers, the national park is renowned for its thermal hot springs which give off a rainbow color hue.
One such thermal hot spring is called Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the largest hot spring in the country and the third largest worldwide. The national park maintains a network of boardwalks to give the public ample opportunities to get closer and more personal with the breathtaking geysers and thermal hot springs.
Yellowstone National Park is also home to Yellowstone Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in North America that is above the elevation of 7,000 feet. The entrance fees for the national park are $35 for vehicles, $30 for motorcycles and snowmobiles, and $20 for those arriving by foot or bicycle.
Also of note is that the entrance passes are good for seven days after being purchased. Yellowstone National Park also contain multiple visitor centers and/or museums. You also may want to consider visiting the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, located in the national park’s eastern gateway city of Cody, Wyoming. It is a large, beautiful complex that houses a whopping five world-class museums. You can learn more here.
Hotel Suggestion: Best Western Premier Inn & Suites
This hotel is located on Eighth Street in Cody which is about 97 miles east of Yellowstone National Park via US Route 20. There is an onsite restaurant and bar called the 8th Street Restaurant. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available at the hotel for your workout needs.
All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, coffee makers, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $156 to $329. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
Devils Tower National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument is located in the northeastern portion of Wyoming, near the state border with South Dakota. It was designated in September of 1906 as the first national monument in the country. The signature feature of the national monument is Devils Tower itself. Devils Tower is a laccolithic butte that is composed of igneous rock.
It soars about 867 feet from the base to the summit, giving it an imposing presence within the national monument. Devils Tower is said to be 65 million years old. It is considered to be sacred by the Northern Plains tribe. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can try your hand at climbing Devils Tower to reach its summit.
If you successfully reach the summit, you will be met with gorgeous views of the Wyoming scenery. There are five hiking trails for you to choose from during your time at the national monument. By far the best one is Tower Trail. On this hiking trail, you will head up a short, steep path that goes from the visitor center parking area to the base of Devils Tower.
Once at the base, you will go in a 1.3 mile loop around the butte. The loop offer sweeping views of the surrounding area, even if you don’t climb to the summit. Also on Tower Trail, you will find Native American prayer cloths attached to trees. These represent the tribes’ spiritual connection to Devils Tower. There are also benches on this trail where you can relax and appreciate the views.
The entrance fees for Devils Tower National Monument are $25 for vehicles, $20 for motorcycles, and $15 for those arriving by foot or bicycle. Once the entrance passes are bought, they are good for up to seven days. There is also a visitor center onsite with a gift shop and a bookstore inside.
Hotel Suggestion: Best Western Devils Tower
This hotel is located on Wyoming Highway 24 in Hulett which is about twelve minutes drive northeast of Devils Tower National Monument. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include R Deli, Ponderosa Cafe, and Red Rock Cafe. The hotel contains an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.
Those looking for a place to workout can use the hotel’s fitness center. All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $93 to $165. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
Shoshone National Forest
Shoshone National Forest borders Yellowstone National Park to the east and southeast and is easy to reach from Cody. It became the nation’s first national forest in March of 1891. The national forest is known for hosting some of America’s most rugged, remote, and scenic areas. It is home to Gannett Peak which soars to the height of 13,804 feet in order to become Wyoming’s highest peak.
At the other end of the elevation spectrum is the stunning Clarks Forks Canyon with its mouth at 4,600 feet above sea level. The national forest include parts or all of three mountain ranges and five wilderness areas. Alpine lakes, rushing streams, waterfalls, glacier-carved valleys, cliffs, wildflower-covered slopes, forests, and snow-capped peaks all make up for a photo-worthy scenery in Shoshone National Forest.
And then there is the ghost town of Kirwin which once thrived on mining. History buffs are sure to fall in love with this ghost town as it is littered with interesting lore regarding its settlement and development during the late 19th century and early 20th century. You can visit the national forest free of charge. There are over 1,300 miles of hiking trails and four scenic byways within the national forest for your enjoyment.
These three Wyoming beauties have made history in the United States by being the first national park, national monument, and national forest respectively. So, they all should be visited for what to do in Wyoming. What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these history-making locations? Feel free to leave a comment below.