There are literally millions of Americans who will be visiting Wyoming this summer seeking out those secret spots. I will be one of them.
This column is my annual “Wyoming Bucket List” of those places that I have always wanted to visit. Some of them were featured in my three-volume trilogy of coffee table books about Wyoming but many were not.
Either way, I am eager to go see them.
Now readers need to know that Wyoming is full of many of the most scenic places in the world, such as Yellowstone National Park, Teton National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, the Medicine Wheel, the Oregon Trail, the Red Desert, and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
I have been to those places and, if you have not, I would encourage you to go there. Be smart about it, though, as you will be joined by millions of Americans who have been yearning to get “out there,” and nobody does “out there,” better than Wyoming.
This is the year that I will finally visit Fossil Butte National Monument near Kemmerer. Hopefully Vince Tomassi will be my tour guide as we sort through all those millions-of-year-old fossils there.
Dave Peck of Lovell will be on my speed dial this summer as Nancy and I want to finally see the Big Horn Canyon and Reservoir. This amazing place spans Wyoming and Montana and it’s time to go take it all in.
My friend John Davis and his wife Celia of Worland have been wanting a tour of the Oregon Trail. Hopefully, I can be their tour guide and show them some of the sights here in Fremont County.
I am very familiar with the bands of wild horses that roam the Red Desert between Lander and Rawlins and Rock Springs. But Pat Schmidt, who grew up in Greybull and was publisher of newspapers in Lovell and Thermopolis, says it is time to see the wild mustangs near Lovell. We have never explored the Pryor Mountains and we are overdue. This area also spans both Wyoming and Montana.
Wyoming’s most noted historian Phil Roberts of Laramie grew up in Lusk and has always touted the “breaks” north of Lusk. I would very much like to see them and with his help, this might be the year.
One of the oddest places I have ever seen is Rawhide Butte near Lusk. Quite a story attached to that place which is celebrated each year in that Niobrara County seat. The buttes are a geological marvel. Would not mind seeing them again.
East of Jeffrey City is a rock formation called the Castle or Stonehenge. You can see it from Highway 287 but it is quite a trek to get to it. Charlie Smith promised me he would take me there some day. Hopefully, this will be the year. Lots of pioneer names scrawled on the walls, I’ve been told.
Afton publisher Dan Dockstader is a busy guy — being the president of the Wyoming Senate, besides his day job. But I am hoping for a tour of the Afton Star Valley area. It has been a long, long time since I have been over there.
Here are a few more of my favorite places:
Did you know that Fort Laramie in Goshen County was the preeminent place in the northern Rocky Mountains for 50 years, from 1830 to 1880? It is a fantastic site with restored buildings. It is a national site and closes at 4:30 p.m., so do not get there late.
In Cheyenne, a tour of the newly-refurbished State Capitol building is on my list. It cost over $300 million and from what I hear, it is spectacular.
Devils Tower was the country’s first national monument. I love everything about northeast Wyoming. The Gore Buffalo Jump is incredibly impressive, as is Ranch A. Little Hulett has one of the nicest golf courses in the state, too.
Our mountain ranges are spectacular. My favorite mountain roads will give you goose bumps. Highway 14A out of Lovell, the Beartooth Highway north of Cody, the Loop Road outside of Lander are some of the most scenic. Shell Canyon out of Greybull and Tensleep Canyon out of Worland are terrific mountain passes with good roads.
The brand new National Museum of Military Vehicles just south of Dubois will take your breath away. At a cost of over $100 million, Dan, Cynthia, and Alynne Starks have created a modern masterpiece.
Those are a few of the places listed on my 2021 edition of the Wyoming Bucket List. What are some of yours?