Embrace the untamed spirit of the Wild West and the beauty of the natural world when you escape to an incredible Wyoming vacation rental during the Christmas season. In addition to the outdoor playgrounds of Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park, the Cowboy State is home to some amazing little towns. These quaint communities make the holiday season a special and memorable time for locals and visitors alike. Book a cozy log cabin in the Wyoming mountains, pack your cold weather sports gear, and get ready for a fun time in a winter wonderland. Here are some of the state’s best Christmas getaways.

1. Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole’s ski season begins toward the end of November, and there’s plenty of fun for nonskiing family members to enjoy during the holiday season. Join in the annual Town Square lighting, where the iconic elk antler arches are festooned with thousands of LED lights and there are cookies and hot chocolate, carols, holiday music, and a visit from Santa Claus. Go stargazing for free at the Center for Arts, where astronomers set up a Dobsonian telescope to study the night sky. Enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides through the National Elk Refuge, seeing the thousands of elk that make the refuge their home. Keep a lookout for other wildlife, such as eagles, bison, and deer to add to the experience.

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2. Cheyenne

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in Wyoming’s capital city of Cheyenne. Enjoy browsing the small town retailers to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts, watch the Christmas parade on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, and take a magical tour of the town’s Christmas light displays aboard the street railway trolley, decorated especially for the occasion. Visit the Historic Governor’s Mansion, which gets dressed up for the holiday season, and get a ticket for the annual Christmas House, where you can buy specialty handcrafted items.

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3. Sheridan

The holiday season in Sheridan starts off in style with the Main Street Christmas Stroll in November. The Main Street and Grinnell Plaza close down to allow four hours of shopping and fun. Hundreds of local businesses take part, offering great deals for Christmas shoppers. Travel through the area on the trolley or minitrain, or throw caution to the wind and jump on a hay ride. Pick up a numbered “Stroll” button from the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, and get entered into weekly draws with prizes of up to $1,000 in Chamber bucks to spend at local businesses. In the first weekend in December, the Trail End Holiday Open House event features live musical performances and an appearance by Santa Claus. Before or after the performance, guests can enjoy some traditional figgy pudding and hot drinks in the kitchen or butler’s pantry.

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4. Casper

The mountain town of Casper puts on a superb Christmas parade. Reserve your place on the sidewalk to watch the floats go by with their twinkling lights, and enjoy the holiday music, a great atmosphere, and a visit from Santa and his elves. In December, the tempting Chocolate Walk takes place. Pick up your map, and make your way around the participating stores, enjoying chocolate treats and other goodies as you follow the trail. Return your maps to the designated location to enter a prize draw. Make sure to visit Santa’s workshop at Market Square, where the kids learn that Christmas is about giving as well as getting. Get a photo of your kids with Santa, and donate a gift for Toys for Tots. If you’re fans of ice hockey, book tickets to watch a Casper Coyotes home game.

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5. Buffalo

Buffalo, around 110 miles north of Casper, celebrates the start of the holiday season with its annual Lighted Christmas Parade and Chili Feed. Watch the many brightly colored floats as they travel through the streets, and join the festive feast in Crazy Woman Square. Residents and visitors alike are invited to dip into the free chili prepared and donated by local restaurants and merchants. After dinner, gather around the open fire for hot chocolate and s’mores.

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6. Cody

Located just 50 miles from Yellowstone’s East Gate, Cody is a great place for a vacation at any time of the year. This little town really goes for gold in the holiday season with its Cody Cowboy Christmas. Starting with one of the largest lighted Christmas parades in Wyoming, Sheridan Avenue completely shuts down to accommodate the parade, the Christmas Stroll, shopping cart races, and other events. You can also bid for your own ready-decorated Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees to take back to your vacation rental. The kids can meet Santa at his gorgeously decorated log cabin. Be sure to book tickets for the spectacular performances of “The Nutcracker Suite” by 100 dancers from the Rocky Mountain Dance Theatre, and don’t miss the annual Holiday Open House at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

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7. Moose

Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in the small community of Moose. This tiny town north of Jackson Hole marks the southern entrance to the Grand Teton National Park. If you take a vacation rental here, you have access to all the Christmas fun and festivities at Jackson Hole. However, if you’re seeking a peaceful time and place to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas, take the opportunity to wrap up warmly, strap on skis or snowshoes, and make your way through the crisp snow to the Chapel of the Transfiguration for a magical night of carols and candles. This simple log cabin chapel amid the magnificent Teton mountains captures the true Christmas spirit.

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