Wyoming September 01, 2017
6 Amazing Natural Wonders Hiding In Plain Sight In Wyoming — No Hiking Required
Wyoming has loads of natural wonders – you could easily spend a lifetime traveling from one end of the state to the other exploring them all. You’d definitely get your exercise doing it, as many are located in remote areas that involve taking a hike to get to them.
For those who would like to get a glimpse of some of the amazing natural wonders in the Cowboy State but don’t want to or simply can’t spend time hiking, here are a handful of them that are easily accessible – no hiking required.
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. Castle Gardens, Castle Garden Road, Riverton, Wyoming
Castle Gardens is around 55 miles east of Riverton, but at least you can drive there instead of hiking. Visitors can appreciate this natural wonder in two ways. First, the massive sandstone outcroppings themselves are stunning. It has taken the Wyoming wind eons to sculpt the stone into shapes that amazingly resemble castle towers and turrets.
The carvings adorning the stone are the second feature at this site. Scores of prehistoric carvings are etched into the sandstone depicting shields and warriors, earning Castle Gardens the title of one of the state's best sites for ancient rock art.
2. Grand Teton Mountain Range, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Rising to 13,770 feet at the highest peak, the Teton Mountains are visible from numerous locations on the western side of the state and even in certain areas of Idaho. You can see the majestic mountains when driving anywhere along US-191 between Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park - provided the peaks aren't obstructed by clouds. You can get closer than that, however. Teton Village, about 12 miles northwest of Jackson, sits at the base of the mountains. Year round gondola rides up the mountainside get you up close and personal.
3. Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Practically everyone knows Yellowstone National Park is home to one of the most famous natural attractions in the country but, unless you've been there, you might not know how easy it is to get to Old Faithful to watch it spout off. The great geyser is about 1 1/2 miles from Old Faithful Inn, and just steps from the Old Faithful Visitor Center.
4. Chugwater Formation, northern and southern Wyoming
Certain red rock hills in northeastern and southern Wyoming (redder in person than these ones in Platte County appear in this photo) are fascinating geologic formations, and some are right there by the roadside. Though similar ones exist in neighboring states, the ones in Wyoming are unique in that geologists recognize them as a "group," rather than a singular formation.
Another feature that makes the outcroppings in Chugwater different is their size. Most of these types of rock formations are made of shale and siltstone with sandstone interspersed in, making them fairly brittle, but these extraordinary outcroppings have been able to withstand excessive erosion and maintain their size thanks to the quartz content they possess.
5. Devil's Tower National Monument, WY-110, Wyoming
Like the Tetons and the Chugwater Formation, Devil's Tower is massive enough to be seen for miles from all directions. This monstrous monolith is considered sacred by Native Americans and is a national monument to boot. Campgrounds and viewing paths right at the base of it are easily accessible.
6. Teepee Fountain, Thermopolis, Wyoming
Many natural travertine attractions can be easily seen around the hot springs hotbed of Thermopolis, but Teepee Fountain wins the prize for being easiest to get to. Located in a town park-like area inside Hot Springs State Park, this natural attraction did have a bit of human help getting started, although the results were unintended and entirely Nature's doing.
Sometime in the early 1900s, an iron pipe was driven into the ground to create a steam vent for scalding mineral water that was being piped underground through the park. As the mineral water flowed up and out of the pipe, it did what it naturally does: deposited layers of travertine on the pipe as the water cooled, eventually forming this giant teepee-like mound.
What other Wyoming natural wonders have you found hiding in plain sight?