Today, in the face of COVID-19, what advice can I give to people about getting out and seeing Wyoming?
It is prudent to pack the face masks, hand sanitizers, and to practice social distancing. Wyoming has proven to be a very safe place, but we are now being invaded by 5 million tourists from around the world, so be aware of the dangers out there.
Because of the virus, this is a time to enjoy the wide-open spaces in the Cowboy State. I am emphasizing outdoor sights and sites.
With that said, here is my COVID-era bucket list for Wyoming.
Lake Marie, Hobo Hot Springs, and the Wolf Hotel are among my favorite places in Saratoga. The fishing there is spectacular, too.
The Boar’s Tusk, Killpecker Sand Dunes, and the petroglyphs north of Rock Springs are among my favorite spots. Hope to visit them again soon.
Did you know that Fort Laramie in Goshen County was the preeminent place in the northern Rocky Mountains for 50 years, from 1830 to 1880? It is a fantastic site with restored buildings. A national site, it closes at 4:30 p.m., so do not get there late.
In Cheyenne, Pete Illoway recommends a tour of the newly refurbished State Capitol, which should be on everyone’s list. Be sure to practice the necessary precautions. The Botanical Gardens is a well-kept secret from most Wyomingites.
The Red Desert, nestled between Lander, Rawlins, and Rock Springs, has so much to see and do. From the Oregon Buttes to Adobe Town and everything in-between, it is a sight to behold. And the roads are decent. A family SUV should work for most of it. I would leave the sports car home.
Fossil Butte near Kemmerer is on my list again, thanks to Vince Tomassi, who is a big advocate of this national historical site.
Ogden Driskill is the unelected emperor of Devils Tower. It was the country’s first national monument. I love everything about Northeast Wyoming. The Vore Buffalo Jump is incredibly impressive, as is Ranch A. Little Hulett has one of the nicest golf courses in the state. Tom Lubnau recommends the Soda Well/Weston Hills area north of Gillette.
One of the more distinctive small parks is Ayre’s Natural Bridge in Converse County. A cool stream-side spot that is truly cool on a hot summer day. Fremont Canyon south of Casper will blow you away, too.
This could be a great summer to follow the Oregon Trail. More than 350,000 people traveled this route 165 years ago. The Wyoming portion starts in Goshen County and ends in Uinta County. The trail offers an educational and fun way to explore national history right here in the Cowboy State. There are visitor centers along the way and some great museums, including the National Trails Center in Casper and terrific restored forts at Fort Laramie, Fort Caspar, and Fort Bridger.
The city of Evanston is full of things to see. Folks there have created a scenic River Walk and pond complex on the Bear River.
Afton-Star Valley is an often-ignored valley by many Wyomingites because it is so remote. But the trip is worth it. A new Mormon temple is a tourist site in its own right.
Our mountain ranges are spectacular. My three favorite mountain roads will give you goose bumps. Highway 14A out of Lovell (which leads to the amazing Bighorn Medicine Wheel), the Beartooth Highway north of Cody, the Loop Road outside of Lander are some of the most scenic. Shell Canyon out of Greybull to Sheridan and Powder River Pass out of Worland to Buffalo are terrific mountain passes with good roads.
The Big Horn Basin is this huge area in NW Wyoming surrounded by Thermopolis, Worland, Greybull, Basin, Lovell, Powell, and Cody. There is so much to see ranging from the world’s largest hot springs in Thermopolis to wild horses and all the events that Cody has to offer, including rodeos and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Here in my Fremont County you have the wondrous Sinks Canyon and towering Wind River Mountain Range. The Wind River Indian Reservation has curtailed some of its powwows but there is still a lot to see.
Wyoming’s next great museum is the National Museum of Military Vehicles just south of Dubois. This will be a game-changer when it comes to tourist patterns. Dan Starks’ creation is magnificent. The multi-million-dollar facility will have a soft opening in August due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Oops, it seems I forgot a couple of icons. Yes, Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks are worth a visit, too. These are our crown jewels. Be sure to see them if you get the chance.
There is so much to see and do here in our home state. The above is a partial list of places I intend to see this summer. Why don’t you join me?
Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.