Wyoming is known for its roaming bison and bucking horses. Mountainous terrain covers the west, and endless plains cover the east.
Yellowstone National Park might be Wyoming’s most famous attraction. But it’s also home to America’s first National Monument – Devil’s Tower.
Whether you’re itching to take a picture at Grand Teton National Park, or on your way to Jackson Hole; Wyoming has plenty to offer when it comes to outdoor adventure.
What National Parks Are In Wyoming?
There are two National Parks in the state of Wyoming:
- Grand Teton National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
There are also four historic sites and memorials in Wyoming run by the National Park Service:
- Devil’s Tower National Monument
- Fort Laramie National Historic Site
- Fossil Butte National Memorial
- John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway
Grand Teton National Park
Located between Yellowstone National Park to the north and Jackson Hole to the south, Grand Teton National Park provides picturesque views of the Teton Range and several outdoor activities.
Visitors can easily reach the park via U.S. Highway 89/191 and U.S. Highway 287/26 and spend many hours or days exploring all that it has to offer.
Six campgrounds are available throughout the park, along with backcountry sites for more adventurous visitors. Some of the areas that provide scenic drives in the park include Moose-Wilson Road and Signal Mountain Summit Road.
Grand Teton National Park has many sites that are ideal for scenic photos, such as Moulton Barns and Mormon Row.
With more than 310,000 acres of land, visitors have plenty of space to enjoy different activities throughout the year, such as watching for moose, elk, bison, and other wildlife or fishing in Snake River when it’s warm out.
Snowshoe walks led by park rangers, cross-country skiing, and other activities are available during winter. Ranger-led programs are offered for visitors who want to learn more about Grand Teton National Park.
Visitors who plan on bringing pets should be aware that pets are not allowed on the park’s pathways and trails. Pets are also not allowed to swim in any location within the park and must be on a secure leash at all times for safety purposes.
Things to do in Grand Teton National Park:
- Boating and kayaking
- Mountain climbing
- Wildlife viewing
- Scenic drives
- Cross-country skiing
- Horseback riding
- Lake cruises
Things to do near Grand Teton National Park:
- Bridger-Teton National Forest (5 minutes east)
- Shoshone National Forest (30 minutes east)
- Caribou-Targhee National Forest (2.5 hours north)
- Bighorn National Forest (5 hours east)
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, is among the most well-known parks in the U.S. Most of the park is in the state, although smaller parts extend into neighboring Idaho and Montana.
From geysers to grizzly bears, the park is home to many geological features and wildlife species. In fact, Yellowstone has a large concentration of mammals, including wolves, mountain lions, bears, mountain goats, wolverines, and bighorn sheep.
Several sites in the park provide a good chance of seeing some of these animals, such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Fishing Bridge, Hayden Valley, and West Thumb.
Visitors who come to Yellowstone National Park can see the tallest active geyser in the world, known as Steamboat Geyser. The park also has other notable features, including hot springs and travertine terraces.
Famous sites to see within the park include Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon, which offer spectacular views of these natural wonders. Yellowstone National Park is filled with hiking trails that provide opportunities to see canyons, mountains, forests, hot springs, lakes, and local wildlife.
Several other activities are available throughout the year, including fishing, boating, snowmobiling, and skiing.
Pets are allowed in developed areas of Yellowstone National Park, including campgrounds, but they are not allowed in thermal areas, the backcountry areas, hiking trails, and boardwalks.
Keep in mind that pets are expected to be physically controlled at all times either on a leash or in a crate for safety reasons.
Things to do in Yellowstone National Park:
- Wildlife viewing
- Horseback riding
Things to do near Yellowstone National Park:
- Bridger-Teton National Forest (30 minutes southeast)
- Shoshone National Forest (30 minutes southeast)
- Caribou-Targhee National Forest (1 hour west)
- Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (2.5 hours northwest)
Devil’s Tower National Monument
Rising 867 feet in the air, Devil’s Tower is an impressive igneous rock formation that was also the first National Monument in the U.S. Although the Tower can be seen from nearby highway 24, visitors can get a much closer look and even climb it.
Devil’s Tower National Monument provides stunning photo opportunities, as well as exciting outdoor adventures, including hiking along trails and scaling the Tower’s rock columns to reach the summit (rock climbing gear required!)
Located in the northeastern corner of Wyoming in the Black Hills area. You’ll find scenic views of the surrounding prairies on your way to Devil’s Tower.
Visitors can hike on any of the park’s five trails, including the Tower Trail that goes around the monument’s base. Whether hiking along the trails or standing at the top of Devil’s Tower, visitors can expect to see plenty of wildlife in the area including as chipmunks, prairie dogs, foxes, and rabbits.
Devil’s Tower National Monument is open to the public all year round. In addition to outdoor activities, the park offers ranger programs and other special programs with guided walks and cultural activities.
A visitor center and Belle Fourche River Campground are also on site. Visitors bringing pets should note that pets must be kept on secured leashes that are 6 feet long or shorter at all times.
Pets are only allowed in certain areas, including picnic areas, the campground, near roadways, and parking areas. No pets are allowed on the hiking trails or visitor center.
Things to do At Devil’s Tower National Monument:
- Rock climbing
- Cross-country skiing
Things to do near Devil’s Tower National Monument:
- Visit Thunder Basin National Grassland (1.5 hours south)
- Camp in the Black Hills National Forest (2 to 2.5 hours southeast)
- Hike in Custer State Park (2 to 2.5 hours southeast)
- Explore Wind Cave National Park (2 to 2.5 hours southeast)
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Located in the southeastern part of Wyoming, Fort Laramie National Historic Site offers a glimpse of what life was like during the days of westward expansion.
This historic site dates back to 1834 and was in use until 1890. Previously known as Fort William and Fort John, Fort Laramie went from being a fur trading post to a military post over the years.
Visitors can reach Fort Laramie National Historic Site via Wyoming Highway 160. The site offers several things to do within a couple hours time, including audio tours for those who want to learn more about its history.
While exploring the area, you can see historic structures and view exhibits featuring weapons, artifacts, uniforms, and more at the visitor center. In fact, the visitor center itself is in an 1884 Post Commissary Building.
Fort Laramie’s Confluence Trail provides visitors with a chance to see the North Platte River and Laramie River, along with a wrought iron bridge and forests filled with willow and cottonwood trees.
During the summer months, you can also expect to see park staff members dressed in 19th century clothing. Black powder weapons demonstrations and other events take place throughout the year, allowing visitors to learn more about the area’s history and culture.
Pets are allowed at Fort Laramie National Historic Site as long as they are kept on a leash at all times. No pets are allowed in the park’s buildings, however.
Things to do in Fort Laramie National Historic Site:
- Interpretive programs
Things to do near Fort Laramie National Historic Site:
- Guernsey State Park (30 minutes west)
- Oglala National Grassland (2 hours northeast)
- Cheyenne (1.5 to 2 hours south)
- Medicine Bow-Routte National Forest (2 hours southwest)
Fossil Butte National Monument
Located along U.S. Highway 30 in southwestern Wyoming, Fossil Butte National Monument, offers a chance to learn more about the area’s prehistoric years.
The site is known for having one of the biggest collections of freshwater fish fossils.
Fossils of several fish, plant, bird, arthropod, amphibian, reptile, and mammal species have been found at this site. This National Monument also plays an important role in protecting the ecosystems of Green River Lake and Fossil Lake.
Visitors can hike along several trails in the area to explore the site’s geological features, which include the colorful Wasatch Formation, and watch for wildlife. Black bears, mountain lions, moose, and many other animals make their home in this area.
Both maintained and unmaintained trails are available so there’s great hiking available to everyone. While visitors won’t see fossils along the trails, these specimens can be seen in the visitor center.
Ranger programs are also offered for those who want a more in-depth experience at this ecological site.
Warm weather activities at Fossil Butte National Monument include hiking, biking, stargazing on clear nights, and horseback riding.
During the colder parts of the year, visitors can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. There are no campgrounds at the site, although nearby parks offer camping for those who plan to stay in the area longer than a day.
Fossil Butte National Monument allows pets on the hiking trails and other outdoor areas, although they must be leashed at all times. Pets aren’t allowed inside any of the buildings, including the visitor center.
Things to do in Fossil Butte National Monument:
- Scenic drives
- Horseback riding
- Cross-country skiing
Things to do near Fossil Butte National Monument:
- Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (25 minutes west)
- Bear River State Park (1 hour south)
- Fort Bridger State Historic Site (1 hour south)
- National Oregon-California Trail Center (1 hour west)
John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway is a scenic road that connects Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.
This road, which runs from Grand Teton’s southern boundary to Yellowstone’s West Thumb area, has a number of sites along the way that offer stunning views of mountains, Snake River, and other natural features.
The drive generally takes roughly an hour, although this depends on how many stops visitors make.
Starting at the Yellowstone end of the parkway, visitors can take scenic photos of Steamboat Mountain and Mount Reid before heading south and stopping at Jackson Lake Overlook. The overlook provides beautiful lake views and a chance to enjoy a bite to eat and some fresh air before continuing on the drive.
Those who want to stop for awhile can head to Arizona Island Picnic Area, then continue on the parkway to get views of Pilgrim Mountain. Other areas to explore include Lakeshore Trail and Hermitage Point Trailhead.
While heading toward the Grand Teton end of the parkway, visitors can expect to see other areas of interest. A few of these include Grand View Point, Oxbow Bend, Jackson Lake Dam, and Lozier Hill. There’s also another Jackson Lake Overlook that offers a great place to take photos.
Things to do in John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway:
- Steamboat Mountain
- Mount Reid
- Jackson Lake Overlook
- Arizona Island Picnic Area
- Pilgrim Mountain
- Lakeshore Trail
- Hermitage Point Trailhead
- Grand View Point
- Oxbow Bend
- Jackson Lake Dam
- Lozier Hill
Things to do near John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway:
- Bridger-Teton National Forest (35 minutes east)
- Shoshone National Forest (1 hour east)
- Caribou-Targhee National Forest (2.5 to 3 hours west)
Wyoming National Parks
Wyoming is known for Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park, but people often forget about the other memorials run by the National Park Service.
If you want to see a truely unique memorial, Devil’s Tower is an excellent place to visit. To see one of the largest collections of freshwater fish fossils, check out Fossil Butte National Memorial.
History buffs should make a pit stop at Fort Laramie National Historic site and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway.