With its large land area, soaring mountains, and sparse population, Wyoming is brimming with adventure. Once you venture away from the most popular sites like Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, you’re rewarded with a wide variety of hidden gems. From Wild West outlaw hideouts to Plains Indians archaeological sites, Wyoming offers something special for every traveler. As you research Wyoming vacation rentals and routes, keep these lightly visited spots in mind.
1. Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is famous for its jagged mountains and spectacular views. If you’re visiting on a hot day, get off of the main tourist trail and head to Leigh Lake. Here, a small beach makes the perfect spot to rest after a hike, and the perfectly clear lake makes a great spot for swimming; be sure to take a few photos with the forest and mountains in the background. To get to the lake, hike up the Leigh Lake Trail. The best local vacation rentals are in nearby Jackson.
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2. Bighorn Medicine Wheel, Lovell
Get a glimpse at Wyoming’s Native American heritage at the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, which was originally built by Plains Indians between 300 and 800 years ago. This 80-foot circle of stones sits high in the Bighorn Range, and is only accessible during the summer. Historically, the wheel was used as an astronomical tool, and may also have been part of traditional rituals. Book vacation rentals in Lovell and make the 36-mile drive via Highway 14A and Forest Road 12.
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3. Hole-in-the-Wall, Kaycee
Feel like a Wild West outlaw at Hole-in-the-Wall, a pass that sits high in the Big Horn Mountains. In centuries past, outlaws including Jesse James and Butch Cassidy used this spot as a hideout; today, it’s a part of Willow Creek Ranch, where the staff can arrange excursions to the site on foot or horseback. Plan to visit in the warmer summer and fall months and stay in Kaycee, or if you don’t mind a drive, Casper.
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4. Killpecker Sand Dunes, Farson
As you drive through Wyoming’s Red Desert, an unexpected sight appears: huge, rolling sand dunes. The Killpecker Sand Dunes shift with the wind, creating the second-largest moving set of dunes in the world. Bring a four-wheel drive vehicle with excellent clearance and enjoy a high-speed spin up the dunes; if you prefer to explore on foot, the sandy hills offer excellent hiking year-round. Rock Springs and Farson both make great overnight stops for trips to Killpecker.
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5. Vedauwoo Climbing Area, Buford
See one of Wyoming’s most unusual rock formations at the Vedauwoo Climbing Area. Here, thousands of years of wind and water have worn the granite cliffs into smooth, strangely rounded shapes. Climb around the rocks from spring through fall, and keep an eye out for the ancient fossils embedded in the stone. If you’re a technical climber, you can find plenty of lines along the cliffs. The best local vacation rentals are 25 minutes away in Laramie.
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6. Guernsey Ruts, Guernsey
When settlers crossed the country on the Oregon Trail, they passed through Guernsey. Though wagons no longer roll across the plains, you can see where they passed at the Guernsey Ruts. A five-foot-deep rut is carved into the sandstone, along with well-worn tracks from wagon wheels. Visit any time of year, and book vacation rentals in nearby Guernsey.
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7. Vore Buffalo Jump, Beulah
In the far corner of northeastern Wyoming lies the Vore Buffalo Jump, a sinkhole and an archaeological site. Ancient Plains Indians would set off stampedes of buffalo in the direction of the sinkhole; the animals would fall in, providing meat for the tribes. Today, the pit is a dig site; a boardwalk enables you to walk over the top to see the work of archaeologists. The Buffalo Jump is open in the summer months; stay in Beulah, Sundance, or Aladdin.
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8. Periodic Spring, Afton
Watch a bizarre natural phenomenon at Periodic Spring – the flow of water in this mountain spring stops completely and starts at 18-minute intervals throughout the entire year. This unusual occurrence, which is found only at two or three other places in the world, makes Periodic Spring extremely rare. Getting to the spring requires a one-mile hike through a stunning canyon. Stay in nearby Afton, and be sure to check out the nearby elkhorn arch, which is the largest in the world.
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9. Curt Gowdy State Park, Cheyenne
Pack your mountain bike for a spring, summer, or fall trip to Curt Gowdy State Park. This hidden gem is a biker’s paradise, with miles of hilly singletrack and unparalleled views. The trails aren’t for the faint of heart, so be sure to bring your helmet and safety gear. When you’re finished, head to Granite Reservoir for some of the best rainbow trout and salmon fishing in the state. Cheyenne, which is about 30 minutes away, makes a great base of operations.
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10. Lake Louise Trail, Dubois
Many visitors to Wyoming head straight for the Grand Tetons, but some of the state’s best hiking is in the lightly-traveled Wind River Range. For a beautiful day hike, climb to stunning Lake Louise, a brilliant blue lake surrounded by rocky cliffs. Take the Glacier Trail from the trailhead right outside of Dubois; the trip is about 4 miles round trip and can be completed spring through fall. Stay in Dubois for the easiest trail access.
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