Cowboy State is Best State for Road Trips This Time of Year

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Road trip. Is there any better place in the world to take a road trip this time of year than Wyoming?

Recently, we made two such trips and saw a bunch of wonderful sites in our great state. Two things stood out:

First, I have rarely seen the countryside as green as it is now this late in the year.

Second, for the first time in a long time, you can see for a100 miles or more. There are no smoky horizons blocking views because of California or Canadian fires. What a relief that is.

The book The Big Sky by Montana author A. B. Guthrie Jr. was actually about the big sky in Wyoming, not Montana. The state of Montana was smart enough, though, to grab that as one of their primary mottos. The Big Sky has never been prettier than nowhere in the Cowboy State.

We took two trips, both of which ended up out-of-state. The first one headed north. The second headed south. Here are my observations:

Yellowstone National Park is my favorite place on earth. I have probably visited our country’s first national park 120 times. I just cannot get enough of it.

This first national park is the main draw for tourists coming to Wyoming.

But, and this is a big but: it probably is not a good idea for a Wyoming tourist to visit there around noon during the July 4 holiday. Whew! We went through the park on July 2 and there was a lot of traffic heading to and from the park and inside the park.

We headed in through the south gate, which involves waiting 12 minutes in line to get through the Grand Teton Park entrance. Then you drive the Rockefeller Parkway. Then you wait for miles with other vehicles to get into the Yellowstone entrance. That wait took 31 minutes. Can’t think of a nicer place to wait, but instead of being in Wyoming, all the traffic made it feel more like Interstate 25 north of Denver.

Ran into a Mr. and Mrs. Eisenheiner at the Old Faithful parking lot. They were riding a motorcycle to Alaska. They had started in Los Angeles. Wow, what a ride. I believe that the name Eisenheiner is German for “Iron Butt.”

On this trip, we left Lander about 8 a.m. and took US Highway 287 north through the Wind River Reservation. The gigantic Wind River Mountains were looming on our left and were just awesome. Next comes Dubois, one of the state’s prettiest little towns and it was jammed with tourists.

From there, we headed over Togwotee Pass, which tops out at about 10,000 feet near Brooks Lake. As you head over the pass to Jackson Hole, the spectacular Tetons are shining in the distance – a million-dollar view. As you descend into Jackson Hole, it is common to see a grizzly or two, but not on this warm day.

This is one of the most beautiful drives in the state and is just keeps getting better, the closer you get to the national parks. Then, on this day at least, it got a little crowded.

I was headed to a meeting in Bozeman, MT, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country at 112,000 people.

My trip home involved coming through Cody, Thermopolis, Shoshoni, and Riverton. Everything is so green!

Our next road trip involved heading to Montrose, CO by way of Rawlins and Baggs. Then over to Denver to see my 95-year old mother and back home via Cheyenne, Laramie, and Rawlins.

Wyoming is famous for its wildlife. No other state in the lower 48 even comes close to the antelope, deer, elk, moose, bear, coyote, and jackrabbit you see along our roadways.

Some of the biggest antelope herds in the state can be seen along the route we took. Not sure we can call them wildlife, but the state’s biggest herd of wild horses roams the Red Desert between Lander-Rawlins-Rock Springs-Pinedale areas.

Wildlife Worth the Watching was a program used for many years to promote folks visiting Wyoming to see actual wild animals actually in the wild. A great program.

We made the mistake of taking Colorado’s Interstate 70 going east into Denver on a Sunday afternoon. Spent an extra two hours jammed in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Horrible experience.

Cheyenne was gearing up for Frontier Days, Laramie looked prosperous, as did Rawlins, as we sailed through on our way home.

Great trips but a little too purposeful for me. I prefer to travel slowly and stop and visit folks and interesting places. Will do that on our next trip.