You’re likely familiar with Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but what about other beautiful areas of Wyoming? Our hidden gems road trip takes you on an unbelievable journey to places that tourists rarely visit in Wyoming. Get ready to be amazed by the remarkable diversity across the state’s landscapes.
Where to Go
Bighorn National Forest
Your road trip begins at Bighorn National Forest. Two scenic byways coursing through Bighorn National Forest treat you to unbelievable images of rocky canyons, plunging waterfalls, red-rock cliffs, and snow-capped peaks. Starting from the town of Greybull, take the Hwy 14 Scenic Byway to drive through the majestic Bighorn Canyon. Sandstone cliffs and Ponderosa pine forests tower above the roadway as you drive alongside beautiful creeks. When you reach the high elevations of the Bighorn Mountains, you’ll be astonished by the vistas overlooking the rolling prairies. The Hwy 16 Scenic Byway takes you back into the mountains and through the evergreen forests before opening up to jaw-dropping canyon vistas. Along these two breathtaking byways, you’ll find some of Wyoming’s most diverse ecosystems that include crystal-clear lakes, alpine meadows, high desert, and sharp canyon walls.
Devil’s Tower National Monument
The next stop on your road trip is the Devil’s Tower National Monument. The Devil’s Tower remains one of the bizarre landmarks of the remarkably versatile Wyoming landscape. Rising over 1,200 feet into the air, the igneous rock monument has captivated curious minds for centuries. The Black Hills engulf the landscape around the structure, and the geologic marvel intrigues all those who lay eyes on it. Northern Plains Native Americans hold the cracked tower sacred, and the first American settlers used it as a gathering point. The monument continues to have a wide range of meanings to different cultures, but its common ground is to preserve the unique structure for future generations.
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Continue on to Briger-Teton National Forest. With over 3 million acres of unspoiled wilderness, Bridger-Teton National Forest provides some of Wyoming’s best outdoor recreation. It’s one of the largest forests in the contiguous United States, stretching from Yellowstone National Park and along the Continental Divide to the Wind River Range. Hikers will find many exhilarating backcountry trails only explored by intrepid trekkers. The granite peaks of the Wind River Range include half of the 10 tallest mountains in Wyoming, and hundreds of alpine lakes dot the landscape. Just outside of Pinedale, Fremont Lake is among the most accessible for swimming, boating, and sunbathing during warm summer days. Standing at 13,809 ft, Gannett Peak is the tallest peak of the forest, and tree species include lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, and white pines.
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest
As you continue to travel farther away from the national parks on the opposite end of Wyoming, Medicine Bow is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. The Snowy Range Scenic Byway cuts through the Medicine Bow Mountains and offers a bevy of outdoor activities for nature lovers. Driving through the Snowy Range Pass takes you to alpine forests, lodgepole pine forests, and snow-lined peaks. Many Wyoming travelers overlook this beautiful mountain range for more popular quests but hiking trails to the rugged peaks offer unmatched solitude. Whether staring at the jagged mountaintops perched over Lake Marie or climbing the Medicine Bow Peak summit, you’ll feel like you have Wyoming’s untouched scenery to yourself.
Wind River Country
Before making the final pursuit into Yellowstone Country, make sure you save a few days to delve into Wind River Country. From red-rock canyons to snow-capped peaks, Wind River lets you escape the crowds and experience the real Wyoming. The Wind River Range is the ideal place to begin your adventures, but there’s unlimited outdoor recreation at your fingertips. Camping in the wild backcountry helps you unplug from reality and wake up to the crisp mountain air every morning. Tackle the Absaroka Mountains for rugged pursuits such as hiking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. Ride through the desert and stop by Boysen State Park for a cooling swim on a scorching afternoon. Afterward, cruise through the rocky cliffs of the Wind River Canyon on your way to Thermopolis for the revitalizing waters of Hot Springs State Park. Before you leave, drive through the pastures for an encounter with one of Wyoming’s herds of bison.
Flaming Gorge Recreation Area
The final stop on your road trip is Flaming Gorge Recreation Area. Cruising through the Red Desert of Wyoming is a long, dreary voyage on I-80 to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for most visitors. However, the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area tucked into the southwest corner of Wyoming is a fascinating region of piercing red canyon walls and surreal waterways. You’ll find lots of fishermen along the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and Green River to cast their lines for trout, salmon, and bass. The waterways offer an abundance of aquatic activities such as boating, rafting, jet skiing, and float trips. With hundreds of campsites and numerous hiking trails, Flaming Gorge also provides exciting land adventures through sharp canyons, high desert, and evergreen forests.
When to Go
Several of the roadways on this road trip are only open seasonally and visiting outside of summer can be difficult. While part of your itinerary is doable in spring or fall, we suggest driving the route during summer. This ensures all byways will be clear of snow, and you’ll get the complete experience in these parts of Wyoming. Make sure to wear layers since the daytime heat can be brutal, but nightly temperatures are often chilly.