Though it is not as large as Montana, Wyoming feels remarkably spacious. This 10-day road trip includes two tried-and-true cowboy towns, a geological wonder, an outdoors mecca, four days at a working ranch, and all the beautiful and historical sights in between. With this itinerary, the goal is to minimize driving time while maximizing the destinations.
Day 1: Sheridan
Ease into your cowboy experience with a visit to the Trail End State Historic Site. Check out the Western duds at the legendary King’s Saddlery, and don’t leave without a King Ropes baseball cap, which is de rigueur in the West. Wander around town, nosing into some of the shops and galleries along Main Street. On Friday or Saturday, enjoy dinner at the Sheridan Palace. Otherwise, head over to Wyoming’s Rib & Chop House. Wind things down at the classic Mint Bar and find a comfy bed at the Mill Inn.
Day 2: Sheridan to Thermopolis (160-205 miles)
To get from Sheridan to Thermopolis, there are a couple of starkly beautiful drives, both offering access to interesting sights and countless trails in the Bighorn National Forest.
The Big Horn Scenic Byway (about 205 miles) climbs up and over the mountains past such sights as the Connor Battlefield near Ranchester, the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, and the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, where mustangs can be spotted. This route follows Highway 14 to Lovell and then south toward Thermopolis.
The shorter route (about 160 miles) is higher but no less scenic. It heads south to Buffalo past the impressive Fort Phil Kearny, then over the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway through Ten Sleep to Worland and eventually south to Thermopolis.
As you pull into Thermopolis, head to the colorful and otherworldly Hot Springs State Park. Stroll along the Spirit Trail or stop into the historic State Bath House for a swim before checking into the Best Western Plaza Hotel. For dinner, try the schnitzel at Stones Throw Restaurant.
Day 3: Thermopolis to Casper (about 134 miles)
Spend the day in Thermopolis, exploring the park and soaking in the medicinal waters. Arrange for a tour of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Dig Sites. You can even participate in their archaeological digs. Fill your belly at the Thermopolis Café before heading south through some of the oldest rock formations on the planet.
Consider planning a white-water excursion with the Wind River Canyon Whitewater and Fly Fishing Outfitter, the only outfit licensed to operate on the Wind River Reservation. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep. At Shoshoni, head east toward Casper. After a gourmet burger at the Wyoming Burger Company, settle in for two nights at the Sunburst Lodge on Casper Mountain.
Day 4: Casper
Wake up to wilderness on Casper Mountain. There are endless options for ways to enjoy it: Hike or bike the trails, or fish on the well-recovered North Platte River. For a more cultural experience, head to the Nicolaysen Art Museum and Discovery Center and the wonderful National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Lunch at The Cottage Café and plan for dinner at Bosco’s. Baseball fans can get tickets to watch the collegiate league Casper Cutthroats. Back on the mountain, if the Crimson Dawn Museum is open, stop in to drink in the lore of the mountain.
Day 5: Casper to Buffalo (about 115 miles)
Head north on I-87, which runs parallel to the old Bozeman Trail. This is stark open country, with the Thunder Basin National Grassland sweeping out east of the highway. In Buffalo, belly up to the bar in the historic Occidental Hotel for a meal and a cozy room for the night. For a little exercise, hit the 13-mile Clear Creek Trail System. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch the weekly Cowgirl Rodeo (Tuesday) or the Lion’s Club Rodeo (Friday).
Day 6: Buffalo to T-A Guest Ranch (about 23 miles)
Rise early and hightail it to the T-A Guest Ranch, south of Buffalo off Highway 196, where you’ll spend the next four days. This is where cowboy culture comes to life.
Days 7-9: T-A Guest Ranch
Spend the next three nights enjoying an authentic ranch experience. Activities range from riding to fly-fishing, hiking, biking, and golf. You’ll visit tipi rings and Bozeman Trail sites on the property, plus important battlefields nearby. Expect to work and play hard.
Day 10: T-A Guest Ranch to Sheridan (about 59 miles)
Trade your saddle for a bucket seat and head north to Sheridan. Consider a stop at Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site and the tiny town of Big Horn to see the Bradford Brinton Memorial and Museum. Enjoy a last meal—Wyoming gourmet—at Frackleton’s on Main Street in Sheridan.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Montana & Wyoming.