Hit the Road: 5 Summer Day Trips in Wyoming

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Wyoming is filled with rugged landscapes, rich history, and cowboy charm, making it the ultimate playground for warm-weather exploration. Whether you’re craving a dose of adrenaline, a restorative escape into nature, or a journey back in time, the Cowboy State has something for everyone. 

Looking for fun day trips for the family this summer? We’ve got you covered. Add one (or all five!) of these day trips to your travel itinerary to make the most of the season.

Day Trip #1: Exploring Fort Laramie & More 

Once the largest and most well-known military post on the Northern Plains, the Fort Laramie Historic Site is a fascinating destination for history lovers seeking a half-day trip. Start your adventure with an audio tour at the visitor center to learn about Fort Laramie’s storied past, from its origins as a fur trading post to its closing a half-century later. 

The Fort Laramie Historic Site.

Walk the grounds to discover the history of westward expansion and see the meticulously preserved buildings of Officer’s Row, such as the Post Surgeon’s Quarters and Lt. Colonel’s Quarters. For a fun detour, hike the nearby 1.6-mile Confluence Trail, weaving through a lush gallery forest with fast-flowing rivers on both sides. Visit the Fort Laramie Frontier Trading Post to shop for Civil War-era clothing and Native American artifacts like furs, beadwork, and dance sticks.

Afterward, pay homage to one of America’s most prominent leaders at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Monument, a massive bronze statue honoring Lincoln in the spot where he once served as a young soldier. Don’t leave the area without grabbing a bite at Vickie’s Saloon to indulge in classic pub fare and a well-deserved cocktail in an authentic Western atmosphere. 

Day Trip #2: Experience the Wild West in Cody

If you’re looking for a fun activity to fill your morning or afternoon, make your way to Cody. Kick off your journey into the Wild West at the 1890s Old Trail Town, a wonderland of Western nostalgia open seasonally from May 15th to September 30th. Walk through reconstructed frontier buildings complete with furnishings, like the original cabins used by outlaws Bush Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Check out an Old West saloon or the log cabin of “Curly,” an Indian scout for the army. You’ll also find gravesites of popular figures like John Johnston. All in all, this is a great place to spend an hour or two.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Photo Credit: Steve Cukrov – stock.adobe.com.

Your next stop is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where you’ll find five world-class museums under one roof. Marvel at renowned art at the Whitney Western Art Museum. Get an up-close look at Yellowstone’s diverse ecosystems at the Draper Natural History Museum. Trace the footsteps of legends like Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley at the Buffalo Bill Museum. From fine art and tribal artifacts to firearms and wildlife, each museum offers a unique perspective on the vibrant world of Western heritage.

Day Trip #3: Enjoy a Scenic Drive on Yellowstone’s Lower Loop

A scenic drive through Yellowstone’s Lower Loop is an amazing way for nature lovers to maximize time in the area. It’ll take you roughly five hours to drive the loop, including stops at attractions. You’ll drive past rocky flats, geothermal pools, and the pristine wilderness of what many call “America’s Serengeti.” 

Stop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin to admire the awe-inspiring beauty of the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. While you’re there, visit one (or both!) of the on-site hot springs – Abyss Pool and Fishing Cone – to witness the vibrant hues of blue, swirls of steam, and bubbling waters of one of Earth’s natural wonders. They’re incredible to look at but keep in mind that these hot springs don’t allow swimming.

Head to the world-famous Old Faithful Geyser to join the Yellowstone tradition of watching the unique thermal feature erupt. Before your visit, check the NPS app or go to the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center to learn the prediction time of the next eruption so you can plan accordingly. 

The next stop on your scenic drive is the Fountain Paint Pot, a natural mud pot named after the shades of red, yellow, and brown mud found throughout the area. As you stroll along the boardwalk, you’ll come across all four of the major thermal feature types: geysers, pools, mud pots, and fumaroles. 

Last but certainly not least, make your way to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Choose from several overlooks and embrace the grandeur of the Yellowstone River rushing through the canyon, with huge puffs of steam rising from the canyon walls. 

Day Trip #4: Get Up Close and Personal with Bison in Cheyenne 

Embrace your inner cowboy in the heart of the frontier at Terry’s Bison Ranch for an unforgettable half-day trip amidst Wyoming’s untamed beauty. Start your day with a thrilling two-hour Bison Train Tour, where you’ll get up close and personal with these majestic creatures as they roam freely across the vast plains. You’ll even get to stop during the train ride to feed the bison! 

Bison grazing in a field at Terry’s Bison Ranch. hot

Exchange bison for steeds and saddle up for a one-hour horseback ride through the picturesque rolling hills. If fishing is more your style, cast a line for rainbow trout at the on-site lake. After your day’s adventures, mosey on over to the Trading Post Gift Shop to commemorate your ranch visit with Western-themed souvenirs, novelty items, and snacks. And no trip to Terry’s is complete without a mouthwatering steak dinner at Senator’s Grill, conveniently located right on the property. Sink your teeth into juicy cuts of prime beef and locally brewed beer while soaking in the rustic charm of the Old West.

Day Trip #5: Dip Your Toes in the Hot Springs in Thermopolis 

Thermopolis, a town filled with ample mineral hot springs, is an ideal destination for an invigorating all-day adventure. Start your morning with a hearty breakfast at Black Bear Cafe, where you can enjoy mouthwatering breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and pancakes. Then, head to Hot Springs State Park for a soothing soak in the famous healing waters. The bathhouse is open year-round, and the water maintains a therapeutic 104 degrees.

Hot Springs National Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

Add some excitement to your visit by exploring some of the accessible hiking trails on the property or taking on the epic water slides at the on-site water park, The Star Plunge. Thrill seekers won’t want to miss the Super Star 500, one of the world’s longest water slides. Grab lunch at P6 Station for stone-fired pizza crafted from locally sourced ingredients like the Rancher, a red-sauce pie topped with pepperoni, bacon, sausage, hamburger meat, and Canadian bacon. 

After refueling, travel to the Jurassic era at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. Come face-to-face with more than seventy life-sized dino skeletons, hundreds of captivating displays, and dig sites. Cap off your day with dinner at One Eyed Buffalo Brewing Company to pair burgers and entrees like the chicken fried steak with locally brewed beers. 

Feeling adventurous? Start your meal with an order of the infamous Rocky Mountain Oysters – deep-fried bull testicles served with cocktail sauce. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it; it’s a Western delicacy!

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