With 100,000 square miles of mountains, prairies, crystal-blue rivers and alpine lakes, Wyoming is America at its best – the place to witness geysers bursting skyward, bald eagles soaring overhead and herds of bison roaming across the plains.

If there’s a word to describe a Wyoming holiday, it’s “authentic.” Here, travellers can experience the true Western lifestyle amid the state’s breathtaking natural beauty. Whether your ideal Western adventure involves herding cattle alongside real-life cowboys, marvelling at the pageantry of a Native American powwow or viewing wildlife in its natural habitat, Wyoming is the place to get a genuine flavor for the Western way of life.

Yellowstone and so Much More
No Wyoming adventure would be complete without a visit to the world’s first national park. With more than 3,500 square miles of pristine preserved landscape, Yellowstone National Park is truly one of the jewels in the crown of America’s national park system. Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty – lakes, waterfalls and scenic mountain vistas to name just a few – Yellowstone is best known for the geysers, hot springs and mud pots that make the park one of the most active geothermal areas on the planet. The most famous of these features is the legendary Old Faithful: For more than a century, this extremely punctual geyser has erupted 18 to 21 times a day, shooting water columns more than 130 feet in the air in just 15 to 20 seconds and discharging up to 8,000 gallons of water. Be sure to visit the state-of-the-art Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, or stop by the Old Faithful Inn: A National Historic Landmark, this 1903 masterpiece of rustic American architecture has served as the design inspiration for many contemporary lodges and resorts.

With so much undisturbed wilderness, Yellowstone is a haven for outdoor adventurers yearning to get back to nature. And there are just about as many ways to see Yellowstone’s splendour as there are activities from which to choose. Explore the park’s treasures on an interpretive horseback ride. Hop on an historic Yellow Bus for an unforgettable “photo safari” guaranteed to provide a lifetime’s worth of picturesque memories. Rent a boat for a fishing trip on Yellowstone Lake. View the backcountry from a kayak or canoe. Or travel across Yellowstone as early park visitors did: by stagecoach, keeping a sharp eye out for some of the elk, bison and pronghorn antelope who call the park home. Visiting in winter? Slap on some skis or hop on a snowmobile for a peaceful journey through the silent winter landscape. Or board a heated snowcoach for a relaxing view of the park in winter.

Equally impressive is Grand Teton National Park. Located to the south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton offers the wonders of Yellowstone on a more compact scale – the park is about one-sixth the size of its larger neighbor – set against the Grand Tetons, a 40-mile mountain range that is part of the famed Rocky Mountains. Popular with hikers and mountain climbers – the Teton range boasts several peaks that reach 12,000 feet or more – Grand Teton also attracts water sports enthusiasts, who enjoy fishing and boating on the park’s lakes and rivers. Prefer to simply soak up the scenery? Try a scenic float trip down the Snake River, or enjoy a breakfast or dinner cruise on picturesque Jackson Lake.

For down-home Western flavor mixed with upscale panache, visit Jackson Hole. The southern gateway to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone, the popular resort area features a unique blend of restaurants, art galleries and shops as well as such popular local watering holes as the Silver Dollar Bar or the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Soak up the atmosphere, admire the Western artwork and décor, and enjoy entertainment by some of country music’s biggest stars. (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. are just a few of the musical legends to have graced the stage at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.) Jackson Hole also has a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s premier winter sports destinations, offering everything from skiing and skating to dog sledding and heli-skiing. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, in Teton Village, is a favorite destination for skiers seeking to tackle the resort’s thrilling runs.

For more outdoor adventure, visit Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, where a boat tour offers panoramic views of the 1,000-foot cliffs surrounding Bighorn Lake. Go fishing, rafting or kayaking in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, or view some of the world’s best preserved fossils at Fossil Butte National Monument.

In Northeast Wyoming, America’s first national monument stands watch over the surrounding landscape. Devils Tower is a favorite destination for rock climbers seeking to tackle its hundreds of parallel cracks, some of which reach up to 400 feet long. All climbers are required to register before (and check in after) at the climber registration office. The National Park Service also has implemented a “voluntary climbing closure” during the month of June out of respect for local Native American tribes, for whom Devils Tower is considered sacred.

Frontier Heritage
Devils Tower is just one of the many locations in Wyoming steeped in Native American and frontier history. The state was once home to more than a dozen Indian tribes, and today more than 7,000 Arapaho and Shoshone Indians live on the Wind River Reservation near Jackson. Visit the 2.2 million-acre reservation in summer, when authentic Native American powwows offer an unforgettable opportunity to witness traditional tribal dances, drumming and competitions.

Wyoming’s pioneer heritage is also well-preserved, with numerous sites that chronicle the pioneers who forged a path across the plains and settled the American West. For a distinctive Western experience, take in an old-fashioned Wyoming rendezvous. These distinctive celebrations honour a tradition begun in the early 1800s, when mountain men and trappers would hunt beavers and prepare the hides during the fall and winter months in order to sell them to traders in the spring and summer. To spare the trappers from making the arduous 1000-mile journey east each year, the traders began holding “rendezvous” with them in Wyoming, and the events became much anticipated social events featuring fur trading and competitions such as shooting contests and tomahawk throws.

Today, summertime rendezvous happen across Wyoming, including the Green River, Riverton and the Fort Bridger Rendezvous. Held each Labor Day weekend at Fort Bridger State Historic Site, the Fort Bridger event attracts more than 40,000 people, including traders offering moccasins, leather goods, tomahawks and more.

Fort Caspar was also an important trading post on the legendary Oregon Trail in the 1850s and 1860s before being abandoned after a series of Indian attacks. View the exhibits at the Fort Caspar Museum and Historic Site, or climb aboard a wagon train to experience what cross-country travel must have been like for the early pioneers. Wagon train treks lasting anywhere from two hours to five nights leave from the fort for a fascinating journey along the old pioneer trails.

For those who crave an even more authentic Western experience, Wyoming’s hundreds of working ranches and guest ranches offer visitors a chance to saddle up and live the cowboy life of their dreams. Whether it’s a guest ranch in the mountains, or a cattle ranch on the open prairie, there’s a Wyoming ranch that’s perfect for you. Ride the trails on horseback, hike the mountains or work up an appetite herding cattle before enjoying an authentic chuckwagon supper of beef, beans and barbecue cooked over an open fire and served under the stars.

On the Town
Travelers needn’t give up the comforts of home to experience the true West. Wyoming’s cities and towns offer today’s modern amenities served up Western-style. Each July, for example, the state capital of Cheyenne plays host to one of the West’s biggest and best rodeos. Cheyenne Frontier Days is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, and features classic rodeo ropin’, ridin’ and buckin’ broncos along with carnival rides, Western exhibits and top-name music acts.

For more Wyoming heritage, hop aboard the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley for a tour of the city’s historic sites, including the renovated Union Pacific Depot, Wyoming State Capitol, the Historic Governor’s Mansion and the Nelson Museum of the West.

Cody is home to the popular summertime Cody Nite Rodeo and the Cody Wild West Show Concerts. Named for legendary stagecoach driver, buffalo hunter and Wild West showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the city serves as the eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park and is also the home of The Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Known as the “Smithsonian of the West,” the center is comprised of five museums that explore the history of the American West, Plains Indian peoples, Western Art, American firearms and Greater Yellowstone’s natural history.

For more frontier history, visit Sheridan – where Buffalo Bill auditioned acts for his Wild West Show at the Historic Sheridan Inn – and Buffalo, home of the Historic Occidental Hotel that has played host to everyone from outlaws Butch Cassidy and Tom Horn to Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway.

Wyoming Office of Tourism
5611 High Plains Road
Cheyenne, WY 82007
Ph. 307-777-7777
Fax 307-777-2877