There is no shortage of scenic drives to take advantage of Wyoming's abundant natural splendor" or maybe, "Wyoming's abundance of natural splendor caters to many scenic drives. But for the best combination of scenery and roadside stops, the Snowy Range Scenic Byway is a winner. Following Wyoming Highway 130, the byway crosses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range and cuts right through the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. The path takes you from an elevation of 8,000 feet on the valley floor to a height of 10,847 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains. This means that you come away from this trip with a sense of the amazing variety of Wyoming's natural landscapes. Best of all, roadtrippers can find a plethora of adventures and activities along the byway, from hot springs and rodeos, to camping and abandoned forts.
Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and has one of the coolest nicknames ever: "The Magic City of the Plains". The Cheyenne KOA Journey is the perfect home base for exploring this historic railroad and cowpoke town. It's a quiet little campground with all kinds of amenities to make you feel right at home: a heated swimming pool, a community fire pit perfect for s'mores-making, laundry, lawn games, and even a dog park for any furry friends tagging along. They also have a mini-golf course, which is a great way to burn off any excess energy before retiring to your Tent Site, RV Site, or cozy Camping Cabin. The KOA even provides a convenient list of local eateries that will deliver food right to the campground.
Cheyenne is home to the world's largest outdoor rodeo, Frontier Days, which takes place at the end of July. But, you can experience the fun and excitement year-round at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. The Frontier Days celebration dates back to 1897, so there's a ton of rich history surrounding the event that the museum has preserved. As well as displaying an impressive collection of Western art, the museum also houses one of the nation's largest collections of historic horse-drawn carriages and wagons. It really captures the romance, thrills, and drama of the rodeo—even if you don't get to experience it all firsthand.
You can't visit Wyoming without stopping by a roadhouse, saloon, or honky tonk-type joint, and the Bunkhouse Bar and Grill fits the bill to a tee. They offer a full bar, eight beers on tap, and make the meanest bloody mary west of the Mississippi. The Bunkhouse also offers great steak-and-burger lunch and dinner options. If you're looking to try something you can't find anywhere else, their signature sandwich is the Bunk-Nut, which is essentially a grilled cheese with fried Rocky Mountain oysters (if you don't know what Rocky Mountain oysters are, it's worth a Google.) And, of course, it's not a real saloon if it doesn't offer live music and dancing, which the Bunkhouse does on Friday and Saturday nights from 7PM until 11PM. Their house band, The Y4, plays a lineup of country western classics that's sure to get everyone out of their seats and on the dancefloor. They also foster a kid-friendly atmosphere, so don't be afraid to bring the whole family for a boot-scootin' good time.
Curt Gowdy State Park is probably the crown jewel of Wyoming's state park system. Spread across its 5.3-mile area are three reservoirs, rolling hills, prairies, and sharp granite cliffs that make up the foothills of the Laramie Mountains. Granite Springs is the largest reservoir with the best boating and rainbow trout and kokanee salmon fishing; Crystal is the smallest and has shoreline fishing for brown trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon; and North Crow is the least crowded, with more fishing opportunities. In addition to the activities on the water, the park contains 35 miles of trails, ideal for not only hiking, but also biking, and horseback riding.
Wyoming has a ton of great outlaw history, and you can experience it at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. Built in 1872, the prison spent 30 years containing some of the most notorious bad guys in the West, including members of the famed Wild Bunch and its leader, Butch Cassidy, for five years; It's the only prison Cassidy was ever held in. They offer a full bar, eight beers on tap, and make the meanest bloody mary west of the Mississippi. The museum offers guided tours Thursday through Sunday between June and September; and they're not only a great way to get an in-depth look at the site, but also a stellar opportunity to hear gripping stories of some of the prison's most notorious inmates.
Rest up for a night or two at the Laramie KOA Journey. Visitors can enjoy cable TV, charcoal grills, a library/TV room, a fitness room and a snack bar and gift shop during a stay. Choose from small sand Tent Sites, the grassy and spacious Tent Village, or Camping Cabins and RV Sites for your accommodations. And, since this is Wyoming, the Laramie KOA Journey offers everything you need to learn how to rope steer... Yeehaw!
Cruise into Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests for a ride on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. The Snowy Range Scenic Byway is open between Memorial Day (or thereabouts) and mid-November. Please be advised that the byway is usually closed outside of this period when snow makes the roads impassable. But when the route is clear, it's absolutely breathtaking. Today, it's seen as a scenic alternative to I-80, but its history predates the interstate. The Plains Indians and their ancestors called the area now protected by the forests home, and the route itself started as an 1870s-era wagon road. It was widened in the 1920s, paved in the 1930s, and had the distinction of being named America's second Scenic Byway in 1988. The byway goes from low prairie to high-altitude alpine forests, showing off some incredible wildlife and scenery along the way, and offering a taste of everything the Rockies have to offer. Make sure to stop at the Snowy Range Observation Point to soak up the beauty.
Unwind after the drive at Hobo Hot Pool. It's a natural hot spring-fed swimming pool that's free to visit and is open 24/7. There are actually two man-made pools here, the Hobo Pool, which has a temperature of around 108-119 degrees, and the Not So Hot Pool, which is usually around 100 degrees. Hobo Hot Pool's facilities also include a shower and changing room for the convenience of visiting swimmers. Plus, the location on the banks of the Platte River makes for a really scenic setting.
Step back in time at Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site. It was established in 1868, but since its main purpose was to guard the construction of the transcontinental railroad against attacks from Native Americans, it was only occupied until 1886. Despite its short lifespan, the fort played a huge industrial and cultural role in this vital section of the American West. Although few buildings and structures remain, it is still well worth a visit. Plus, it allows visitors to experience a real-life ghost town, arguably another emblem of the American West. There are plenty of interpretive signs to help bring to life what's left of the once-bustling hub.
End the trip with a relaxing stay at the Rawlins KOA Journey. It wouldn't be hard to spend a full day taking advantage of the fun offered, including pedal kart rentals, mini golf, a splash pad, and a horse pen. Whether you go with a Tent Site, an RV Site, or a Camping Cabin, you'll be able to use the Kamping Kitchen, super clean restroom and shower facilities, and the laundry, among other amenities. From the Rawlins KOA Journey, you're within a day's drive of tons of other incredible adventures, including Mount Rushmore and Salt Lake City, so if you're not ready for the trip to end, there are tons of places to go from here.
Whether you most remember eating Rocky Mountain oysters, learning about the rodeo, cruising into the mountains on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, or calm nights spent camping out under the stars, Wyoming is a state that offers all kinds of unforgettable experiences. And there's no better way to see and do it all than with a road trip.
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