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There’s more to the Cowboy State than Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Like nearly 100,000 square miles of mountain-studded cowboy country—and not a lot of tourists. Plus, Wyoming’s scenic byways and highways don’t transform into parking lots on weekends like some interstates we know. (Contrary to popular belief, I-70’s worst traffic comes during the summer, not ski season.) So the only question is: Why aren’t you there yet?
CHEYENNE FRONTIER DAYS
Drive Time: 90 minutes
In the 1870s and ’80s, Cheyenne served as an epicenter of American ranching. Cowboys from as far away as Texas would drive their herds to Wyoming’s capital city for cattle auctions and relax at rodeos and dances in between. In 1897, these antics were dubbed Cheyenne Frontier Days, an event that takes place from July 21 to 30 this year. Go for the Native American dancers, the frontier-town replica, the concert lineup (starring Jason Aldean) and, of course, the country’s largest outdoor rodeo.
BACKPACKING IN THE MEDICINE BOW MOUNTAINS
Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Everything that irks you about high-country travel in Colorado—crowded trailheads, mandatory campsite reservations, noisy neighbors—is a nonissue in the Medicine Bows. The three-day, 35-mile trip from Rock Creek trailhead to Lake Marie trailhead, which traverses 12,013-foot Medicine Bow Peak, takes you (and few others) through evergreen forests and conifer-ringed glacial valleys with sweeping views of the surrounding summits. Note: For this route, you’ll need to set up transportation from Lake Marie for your return trip—or retrace your steps.
DINOSAUR DIG IN THERMOPOLIS
Drive Time: Six hours
Wyoming’s Morrison Formation serves as one of the most fertile sources of sauropod—the largest dinosaur to have walked the earth—fossils in North America. Casual dino fans should opt for the basic dig-site tour ($10.50 to $12.50). Hard-core fossil lovers can embark on the Dig for a Day option ($100 to $150), during which a paleontologist will lead you through a morning of bone excavation, an afternoon of analysis in the lab, and then a tour of the on-site museum.
If you go: The August 21 solar eclipse’s path of totality will stretch across 365.7 Miles Wyoming. To celebrate, the city of Casper is hosting the Wyoming Eclipse Festival starting on August 17.