Most people have been to the top spots for tourists in Wyoming, but we have so much more to offer, from hidden hideouts to rare waterways to out of the way roads perfect for wildlife viewing. The next time you visit the Cowboy State, go ahead and stop by the typical places along the beaten path, but be sure to save time to hit a few of these 10 lesser-known but still fantastic locations.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Gannet Peak
It may be no Mount Everest but Gannet Peak, located on the Wind River Mountain Range, is plenty of mountain for most seasoned climbers. At 13,804 feet, Gannet is actually 34 feet taller than the tallest point on the better-known Grand Tetons. There are numerous ways to access this hardly-heard-of peak, but one of the most common is to hike the roughly 20 miles from Pole Creek Trail outside Pinedale over Bonney Pass to reach Gannet Peak's summit.
2. Granite Creek Falls
What happens when the cold water of Granite Creek flows over one of the Rocky Mountain region's biggest fault lines? Steaming falls. The water circulates through deep fractures in the rock of the creek bed, getting super-heated before it returns to the surface, feeding Granite Falls Hot Springs further upstream, a little over 40 miles east of Hoback.
3. National Historic Trails Center
Everything you ever wanted to know about the historic pioneer trails running through Wyoming can be found in one place. The National Historic Trails Center in Casper offers historic information on the California, Oregon, Pony Express, and Mormon Trails, all enhanced with striking, authentic exhibits and surrounded by the gorgeous scenery Casper is known for.
4. Hole-In-the-Wall Outlaw Hideout
Still remote and secluded today, the Hole-In-the-Wall Outlaw Hideout was a favorite among such infamous bandits as Jesse James, the Logan Brothers, and Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. You'd think it got its name from the isolated location, but the hideout was actually named for a hole that had eroded in one of the surrounding mesas. Thirty-five miles southwest of Kaycee and 60 miles north of Casper along the Red Wall Back Country Scenic Byway, it used to take a day's ride on horseback to get there. Today, the Hole-In-the-Wall is part of the Willow Creek Ranch, so there are foot trails and dirt roads leading to the outlaw hiding place.
5. Intermittent Spring
Also known as the Periodic Spring, this charming stream located a little over 5 miles northeast of Afton is one of just three of its kind on the entire planet. The irregular flow is what makes it so unique: the water flows in a stop - start fashion, alternating between running normally for about 18 minutes, then stopping for about 18 minutes.
6. Menor's Ferry
As long as you're driving near Moose, stop in to see the Menor's Ferry Historical Landmark. It marks the point along the Snake River where William Menor started his ferry business in the late 1800s. Menor's whitewashed log house still stands today, currently housing a quaint general store. Time your visit right and you can enjoy a freshly-baked ginger cookie piping hot and right out of the original old-time stove.
7. Wildlife on the Moose - Wilson Road
There's an abundance of wildlife to be seen across the beautiful state of Wyoming, but there are few places where you're guaranteed to get a glimpse of the indigenous animals. One of the best chances you'll have to see moose, mule deer, and more is driving along the little two-lane, roughly 8-mile road between Wilson and Moose running past Teton Village northwest of Jackson Hole.
8. Leigh Lake
Other lakes may come to mind when you think of Grand Teton National Park, but one of the lesser known lakes also happens to be one of the most beautiful. Less than 3 miles from Mount Moran, Leigh Lake is clear as crystal and features picturesque white beaches. It's a delightful place to hike, camp, fish, or even drift peacefully along in a canoe.
9. Grand Targhee Ski Resort
The secret at Grand Targhee Ski Resort is that it offers year-round enjoyment of the gorgeous Wyoming terrain. True, it's a terrific destination in the winter for snowcat, Nordic, and basic downhill skiing in addition to tubing, sleigh rides, and snowshoeing. However, there are tons of activities at Targhee in the summer as well such as hiking and trail running, horseback riding, bike trails, and you can even schedule some time EuroBungy jumping, flipping and bouncing like a professional acrobat on Grand Targhee's trampoline/bungy hybrid. Located at 3300 Ski Hill Road in Alta, Grand Targhee is just over 40 miles north of Jackson Hole.
10. Castle Gardens
These gardens aren't botanical, but feature naturally sculpted sandstone formations, formed over several millennia by the wind that's constantly blowing in Wyoming. Getting up close, you'll see that nature's sculptures have been enhanced by prehistoric human creativity. The wind-chiseled creations sport hundreds of painted and carved figures and objects. Around 45 miles east of Riverton, Castle Gardens is a fascinating place to spend a few hours viewing the man-made petroglyphs on nature's carved canvases.
These are only a sample of the hidden treasures that can be found across Wyoming. What secret places have you visited in WY?