Most people have visited the world-famous national parks and forests in Wyoming, but there is unparalleled wilderness all across our great state. You may have visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, and maybe you’ve even explored one or more of our five national forests. If you’re ready for a new adventure, here are 12 Wyoming state parks, some of which you may never have heard of but all of which you’re sure to love.
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. Seminoe State Park, Sinclair, Wyoming
Thirty-five miles north of Sinclair, you'll find the Seminoe Mountains with this gem of a state park nestled up next to them. There are campgrounds for overnight excursions and facilities for day-use fun like picnics and hikes. Plus, enjoy whatever water activities you like on the reservoir.
2. Glendo State Park, Glendo, Wyoming
The area along the North Platte River is one of the most historic in the state. Over the years, dig sites have revealed evidence of the different Native American tribes that have lived in Eastern Wyoming through the centuries including Arapaho, Cheyenne, Oglala, and Brule Sioux. Take a hike almost anywhere in Glendo State Park and you might come across tipi rings or a number of other cultural artifacts. The Oregon - California - Utah trail also came through the area, and wheel ruts in the earth are still visible in some areas.
Glendo State Park has seven campgrounds to choose from. The Glendo Reservoir is ideal for boating and fishing, and there are shelters in the park that can be reserved for parties and get-togethers.
3. Bear River State Park, Evanston, Wyoming
You can make use of this state park just outside of Evanston year round, though it is day-use only with no camping allowed. Still, with over 300 acres that includes more than 6 miles of trails and a footbridge that can take you across the Bear River, it's a terrific place to spend an afternoon so pack a picnic. Small herds of bison and elk call this state park home, so you're guaranteed to see some wildlife. Plus, during the winter, the foot trails can be used for cross-country skiing and there are additional places in the park for snowshoeing.
4. Boysen State Park, Shoshoni, Wyoming
If you're looking for a larger state park that's open all year long, welcome to Boysen State Park. You're welcome to stay overnight here at one of the six campgrounds. You'll enjoy exploring the area around the lake, but you'll appreciate the water-oriented activities as much. Fishermen particularly love the waters here; Stateparks.com says several state record fish have been caught at Boysen.
5. Curt Gowdy State Park, Cheyenne, Wyoming
You'll find Curt Gowdy State Park smack dab in the middle of Cheyenne and Laramie - 24 miles west of Cheyenne and 24 miles east of Laramie. Most of the park is for day-use, but the Hynds Lodge can be reserved for large and small groups for short-term stays. Spend your days hiking in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains, taking in the beautiful landscape, or enjoy boating and fishing on one of the three reservoirs in the park.
6. Edness K. Wilkins State Park, Evansville, Wyoming
If you love wildlife and water fun, this day-use park just outside Evansville is for you. In addition to mink, turtles, porcupines, and deer, you could catch a glimpse of the nearly 40 different bird species that have been sighted at this park as you walk along almost 3 miles of foot paths. There is a playground for the children along with picnic grills, tables, and shelters. If you prefer boating to swimming, this park offers a launching ramp for rafts and canoes, plus it boasts a one-of-a-kind fishing pier.
7. Guernsey State Park, Guernsey, Wyoming
Being located along the Oregon Trail, Guernsey State Park has some of the best examples of the historic wheel ruts the wagons left as they headed west. With seven campgrounds - five situated near the lake - you can make a weekend or a whole week out of your trip to this state park. Visit the Guernsey Museum, have a picnic in the Guernsey Castle while enjoying the spectacular view, then set out for Register Cliff where Oregon Trail travelers chalked their names onto the landmark. Historians say the area today still looks pretty much the same as it did to the pioneers.
8. Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis, Wyoming
Centuries of mineral water flowing along the Big Horn River at Thermopolis has worked to create the interesting and colorful terraces that this state park is known for. You'll want to take a dunk at the free bathhouse that's open 7 days a week (except for on holidays during the winter), but there are other things to do at Hot Springs State Park. Boat and fish on the Big Horn River. Picnic in the shelters. Hike the over 6 miles of ADA - accessible trails. Also, be sure to check out the bison herd which typically numbers over 20 animals at any given time.
9. Sinks Canyon State Park, Lander, Wyoming
This state park's claim to fame is the vanishing river phenomenon. At one point, the Popo Agie River disappears into the Sinks Cavern and reappears in the Rise, a pool around half a mile down the canyon that's filled with trout. The trout in this particular pool are protected, as no fishing is allowed in the Rise. There are plenty of other places to fish, however, at Sinks Canyon State Park. There are also opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, camping, and wildlife viewing. You could spot a black bear, red squirrels, porcupines, bighorn sheep, moose, mule deer, or golden eagles.
10. Buffalo Bill State Park, Cody, Wyoming
Located 9 miles west of Cody you'll find the Buffalo Bill State Park set beneath the stately peaks of the Absaroka mountains. A planned trail system along the north shoreline of the reservoir is being blazed in phases and hikers can already enjoy the Eagle Point Trail. There are two campgrounds as well as two day-use areas that offer shelters, tables, and grills, and the Sheep Mountain area includes a playground for the kids.
11. Keyhole State Park, Moorcroft, Wyoming
With 10 campgrounds, this state park on Marina Road in Moorcroft provides one of the best opportunities for tent and RV camping. It's also a spot that attracts loads of wildlife including native and migrating birds, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer. The marina features a boat ramp so you can enjoy boating along with swimming and fishing when you visit Keyhole.
12. Hawk Springs State Park, Guernsey, Wyoming
About 62 miles south of Guernsey is a picturesque reservoir and state park: Hawk Springs. It's a big draw for birds and birdwatchers alike. Enthusiasts could see a number of feathered wildlife including blue herons, pintails, wood ducks, gadwalls, blue-winged and green-winged teal, and great horned owls. Fishermen come for the largemouth bass, channel catfish, and walleye, and die-hards even come in the winter to ice fish. With two dozen camping units and accommodations for trailers, Hawk Springs is a comfortable as well as beautiful place to spend a vacation.