This mountainous state stands out for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is the least densely populated state in the country. And secondly, the majestic natural beauty is breathtaking. These two characteristics combined create some of the top national parks in the world.
So if you’re planning a trip to Wyoming or you’re a local who wants to explore the region, the national parks and monuments are a must. They are sure to have even the most jaded traveler in awe and will allow you to see a whole new side of the country.
Wyoming has a number of spectacular parks and each has its own special attributes. You may be looking for extreme sports and intense hikes, or you may simply want to spend the day strolling beneath the trees.
Whatever it is that you’re hoping for from this experience, there is sure to be a park in Wyoming for you. Keep reading to find out about the best ones, and what makes them stand out, as well as the best times to visit them.
With large open spaces, towering mountains, gorgeous greenery, and icy brilliance in its turn, there is just so much to see and do in these national parks. The biodiversity and wildlife also play their own part in making these spaces what they are.
Each of the national parks in WY boasts different natural phenomena, so you may be tempted to see it all. If you have the time, we encourage you to do just that!
And if you’re pressed to see only one, any park featured on this list is well worth the visit.
If you’re in nearby Colorado, check out these top hiking trails in Colorado.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one that stands out from the rest. With almost 3,500 square miles of rugged wilderness on the top of a volcanic hotspot, this space is certainly dramatic.
Here you will find thriving forests, rushing rivers, hot springs, geysers, and canyons.
The beauty doesn’t stop at the landscape though. Hundreds of animal species call this place their home. Some of the more famous of these include elk, bears, wolves, and bison.
While you may not want to personally spot all of these species, just knowing that they are there is enough to give you a thrill and remind you that you’re a fortunate visitor in their home.
There are a few things that you should really try to squeeze into your itinerary. If you’re doing a guided tour, you’ll definitely see all the best spots. If not, these are the biggest drawing cards of the park.
- Old Faithful: this regularly erupting geyser is an iconic landmark and an unforgettable sight
- Grand Prismatic Spring: this multi-hued phenomenon, similar to psychedelic Rotorua, is a sight to behold, and the largest hot spring in the United States
- Yellowstone Lake: here you can spend a relaxed afternoon boating, fishing, or simply relaxing at the shore
The bulk of Yellowstone is situated in Wyoming, but it also stretches into Montana and Idaho. There are, therefore, a number of ways to access the park.
There are five entrances to the park. It is important to note, however, that it takes a few hours to drive from one entrance to another, so be sure to choose the one closest to you.
Also, several entrances may be closed to regular vehicles because of weather. Check carefully before you venture out.
Near Yellowstone is Wyoming’s second offering, Grand Teton National Park. The jagged mountainscape of the Teton range is iconic and makes for an impressive site to explore. It is also an incredible backdrop for a day on the lake.
You can bring your paddleboard or kayak here and spend the whole day around the gorgeous water. There are also plenty of paved bike paths to cycle along, as well as trails to hike. It is well suited to families with children.
While every step of the park is beautiful, there are a few standout things to see here. Try to include them all in your visit.
- Grand Teton: the peak of the Teton range boasts an incredible panoramic view of the area.
- Jackson Hole: this awesome little town is very popular amongst the park’s visitors.
Since it is so close to Yellowstone, this is a great second park to visit. You can even take a 4-day tour of both parks, which allows you to make the most of the trip.
The drive between these parks is only 30 minutes long, and a great experience in itself. There are plenty of spots to stop and admire the view and get something tasty to energize yourself. You’ll drive north on the US-191/US-26/US-89 from Yellowstone.
While these national monuments in Wyoming are not surrounded by hundreds of miles of pristine protected parks, they are still something to behold. If you don’t have days to spend in a Wyoming park, a monument or two might fit the bill.
This popular site was made famous by the 90’s movie, ‘Close Encounters’. The foreboding rock suits the idea of an alien encounter, as it rises rather randomly from the earth.
There is a 1.3-mile hiking trail around the base of the tower, which allows you to admire it from all angles. The trail is paved, making it more accessible to those who have mobility challenges.
There is also a prairie dog village near the site, which is a great place to load up on cuteness.
If you’re not in a rush, consider setting up a tent at the camping grounds. The first moment you wake up to unzip your tent and look up at this colossus will be an experience to remember.
Getting to Devils Tower National Monument is simple. It can only be accessed by a single road, Wyoming Highway 24. Located just 9 miles south of the town of Hulett, this is a great place to stock up on anything you need for the trip
This Wyoming monument is well geared to family excursions and learning experiences. As the name suggests, there have been many fossils uncovered here and it is referred to as “America’s aquarium in stone”.
The visitor center will teach you all that you need to know, with numerous displays and literature for all ages.
You can join an informational talk at the center or simply set out on your own. There are a number of lovely hiking trails in the park, and if you go at the right time of the year, you’ll see flowers in abundance. There is also a great picnic area for when you get peckish.
This is an excellent spot to visit if you or a family member or friend have an interest in science, geology, or both. It is packed with great fossil specimens and information, as well as knowledgeable and kind park employees.
This monument is a bit further out of the way than the others. It is a 3-hour drive from Grand Teton National Park and a 2.5-hour drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.
The monument is 9 miles west of Kemmerer on U.S. Highway 30. You can follow the clear signage to the visitor center.
In Wyoming, each season ushers in a new beauty to admire. This makes it tricky to choose the best time to visit, and it really depends on what you’re wanting to experience.
If you want to see the mountains covered in snow and the frozen lake, winter is your clear winner. Winter in Wyoming is from January till mid-April. During this season you can ski and snowshoe your way through the park.
Spring, from mid-April till the end of May, is a time of thaw and new life. The days and nights will still be cold, but you can start taking advantage of more of the park’s available activities, including cycling and hiking.
Summer is perhaps the most popular time to visit. From April through September the leaves are green, the snow has melted, and the full glory of the park is on display.
During October and November, fall spreads throughout the park. The days get shorter and colder, and all but the evergreens turn brilliant hues of yellow and red.
This golden season is short but sweet, and a great time to visit the national parks and monuments in Wyoming.
Wyoming is undoubtedly one of the most stunning natural areas in the United States. With so much beauty and adventure in one state, there is certainly lots to see and do.
If you can only choose one place to visit, I would recommend Yellowstone National Park, as it has a beauty seldom seen elsewhere. However, wherever you may go, it is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
And if you think Wyoming won’t suit you right now, check out the best places to travel for each month.
Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip to Wyoming
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Kayak. These are two of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.
BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
If you’re looking to save money by staying at a hostel, HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels. On the other hand, Airbnb offers a wide variety of rooms and apartments at affordable prices. (Get $40 off your first Airbnb booking with this link.)
For hotels, guesthouses, and other types of accommodation, I also recommend Booking.com. They usually have the cheapest fares for guesthouses and hotels. I always book my hotels with Booking.com.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness. I use World Nomads and highly recommend it.
If you’re a nomad and travel often or long term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on travel insurance.
FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day-tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.
OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.
LET ME HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE BY GETTING ADDITIONAL TIPS AND INSPIRATION VIA THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
Plus, receive a short e-book with 15 Beginner Tips and Tricks to Start Travel Hacking!