Take a Wyoming Road Trip

2019 marks 150 years of women's suffrage in Wyoming, the first state to give women the vote. To celebrate, we take a female-focused zigzag across the Equality State, relishing the beautiful scenery, learning about the state's rich history and having some good old fun.

By: Carrie Hamblin
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Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Jesse Winner / Shutterstock

Photo By: Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Flash Parker / Sheridan Travel & Tourism

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Curtis Akin / NPS

Cheyenne to Laramie: Cheyenne

Starting in the southeast corner of the state, there is much to see and do in Wyoming's capital of Cheyenne. Particular times of the year will offer front-row seats to the world's biggest outdoor rodeo or fun at the various booze and music festivals befitting a capital city. Year-round attractions include the Governors' Mansion, Wyoming State Capitol Building and the city's several museums. We stop in at the Cowgirls of the West Museum to pay homage to the women of the frontier. This nonprofit museum is dedicated to highlighting the contribution of women in settling the American West. It's filled with artifacts, clothing and other memorabilia from the early pioneering days. After the museum, we head over to the State Capitol Building to check out the Esther Hobart Morris statue. Appointed in 1870, Morris was the first female Justice of the Peace and first woman in the world to hold any judicial office.

Cheyenne to Laramie: Curt Gowdy State Park

Off Interstate 80, between Cheyenne and Laramie, are a couple of wonderful spots to do a bit of outdoor play-and-stay. Curt Gowdy State Park offers fantastic mountain-biking terrain as well as reservoirs for fishing and boating. Nearby Vedauwoo provides gorgeous hiking and some of the best boulder-scrambling to be had in Wyoming. We can camp here amongst the towering stones for unforgettable night skies, but if we'd rather forgo the tent, we head over to family-owned Vista de la Luna Bed & Breakfast.

Laramie to Casper: Laramie

Once we arrive in Laramie, we pay a visit to the Wyoming House for Historic Women to learn about 13 amazing female pioneers of women's rights. Outside the museum is a bronze sculpture of Louisa Swain, the first woman to cast a ballot here in Laramie under the new 1869 voting law. This law permitted Wyoming women to vote 50 years before women in the rest of the country. We grab a bite at Sweet Melissa, the popular vegetarian café run by Melissa Murphy. Before we head out, we pop over to The Bent and Rusty, a craftsman co-op (the largest in the U.S., thank you) started by talented local female artisans and makers. Don't worry, they have small stuff here that we can fit in the trunk.

Casper to Lander: Casper

Now we head north to the mountain town of Casper, the crossroads of Wyoming. Well, the cross-trails to be specific. Back in the day, folk traveling the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Pony Express Trail all passed through here. The streets are now patroled by local mascot Thomas Gobbles, a wild turkey with his own Facebook page. We can pull the bikes off the rack and head for the trails on Casper Mountain or get the canoe off the roof and venture over to the North Platte River—a great spot for fishing. Later, we take a tour of Backwards Distilling Company to sample local distiller Amber Pollock's now nationally famous intoxicants. Don't worry, if we overindulge, we'll visit Sherrie's Place in the morning and throw eggs and bacon at our headaches. Sunburst Lodge, a beautiful B&B on Casper Mountain run by attentive innkeeper Nancy Yust, is a great place to stay. Before we head out, we visit the Nicolaysen Art Museum, a Wyoming gem started in 1967 by local Mary Durham and now curated by artist Amanda Yonker.

Lander to Wind River Indian Reservation: Lander

We head west now to Lander, the civilization outside Sinks Canyon State Park named for where the Popo Agie River vanishes underground. Sinks Canyon is a great place to reconnect with nature: pure waterfalls, abundant wildflowers and wildlife, and—oh, yes—a rugged canyon. If we want to rough it, we can camp at one of the many designated campgrounds or yurts. To rest in refinement, we try for a room at The Mill House, a gorgeous boutique hotel back in Lander that is meticulously managed by Jill Hunter. We’ll lunch at the popular Middle Fork restaurant, run by Pennsylvania transplant Jenna Ackerman.

Wind River Indian Reservation to Thermopolis: Wind River Indian Reservation

Out of Lander we head north to the Wind River Indian Reservation—the seventh-largest Indian reservation in the U.S. and home to Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes. Along the way, we can tour the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary. The Oldham family cares for a group of unadoptable wild mustangs in their free-roaming space on the Oldham family's 900-acre working cattle farm, the Double D Ranch. In Fort Washakie, we visit the gravesite of one of Wyoming's important historical women, Sacajawea. Despite being kidnapped, enslaved and sold into marriage, this young Shoshone girl was indispensable to the Lewis and Clark expedition, with her knowledge of travel routes and ability to communicate with the Indians they encountered on their journey, and upon whom they depended for trading and safe passage. We would be smart to plan our trip through Fort Washakie during the annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Powwow and Indian Rodeo.

Thermopolis to the Bighorns: Thermopolis

Continuing our journey, we visit Thermopolis. After admiring the pretty Big Spring and the Rainbow Terraces at Hot Springs State Park, we head to the free public pool at the State Bath House. This is the place to tend to our aching muscles, sore from all the walking and hiking. If the relaxing soak leaves us short of full rejuvenation, a visit to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and its 150-million-year-old specimens will make a person feel pretty spry indeed. Heading out of town, we visit Wyoming Whiskey founded by Kate and Brad Mead, either for a tour or just to pick up a bottle or two of their nationally lauded spirits.

The Bighorns to Buffalo: Crazy Woman Canyon

We head west through Ten Sleep and hop on the Cloud Peak Skyway to Buffalo. This route gives us a great view of the highest peak in the Bighorn Mountains—Cloud Peak—and access to the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area and the Bighorn National Forest. Stick to the 64-mile paved route or hop off on gravel roads that afford worthy diversions. A detour onto Forestry Service Road 33 will take us through Crazy Woman Canyon, offering picturesque views of the gorge, creek and (hopefully) moose. If we want to stay the night nearby and have supplies, we will try for the cool-in-its-own-right Muddy Guard Cabin—the 1930s Forestry Service guard shack. If we make it to Buffalo in the morning, we head over to proprietor Trinity Rodriguez's The Fix Coffee Shop for an Italian espresso. If we arrive after 1 p.m., well, it's 5 p.m. somewhere and late enough for one of brewer Emily Voigt's lauded beverages at MISHAP! Brewing Company.

Buffalo to Sheridan: Sheridan

Sheridan is a Western town through and through, with the downtown Main Street district sporting a whopping 46 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. This town deserves a walk-through and we won't miss King's Saddlery—selling ropes, saddles and Western-themed gifts—along with the Don King Museum containing the family's collection of Western and cowboy memorabilia. Speaking of collections, before we reach Sheridan, we need to stop at the Brinton Museum in Bighorn to learn about the American Indians tribes of this area and enjoy their renowned American Indian and Western art collection, dating from the 19th century.

Sheridan to Cody: Medicine Wheel

Leaving Sheridan, we hop on the Bighorn Scenic Byway that picturesquely passes us over the mountains. If we choose US 14A to get to Cody, we are rewarded with several worthwhile excursions. The first is the opportunity for a short hike up to the National Historic Landmark, The Medicine Wheel. This 82-foot diameter stone configuration is a sacred Native American site that has been used for ceremonies and prayers by local tribes for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands. We also pass by the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center in Lovell. The information center offers tours of the Pryor Mountain Range on the Wyoming-Montana border. Shortly before we reach Cody, we can stop for a day hike to the summit of Heart Mountain for spectacular views of the Bighorn Basin. Then we visit the museum of Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, a site of Japanese internment during World War II.

Cody to the Parks: Cody

Cody is the major northwest Wyoming gateway city to Yellowstone and was named after its celebrity founder, “Buffalo Bill” Cody. We stop here to check out the Buffalo Bill Center of the West five-museum complex, where we can get our art, history and culture all in the same place. For example, see Women in Wyoming, Lindsay Linton Buk's exhibit on the State's trailblazing women, or the world's most comprehensive firearm collection at the Cody Firearms Museum, curated by Ashley Hlebinsky. To live the brand, stay at Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel, named after his daughter, or in one of the many guest houses and bed and breakfasts, like Robin's Nest B&B, run by Robin and Bob Berry.

National Parks

Ah, the crescendo! The vast beauty, culture and entertainment we were able to enjoy in our travels across Wyoming has led us to the place the state is most known for—one of the foremost destinations in the United States and the world's first national park—Yellowstone. Sixty percent of the world's hot springs and geysers are in Yellowstone National Park and days can be spent here exploring—marveling at the hydrothermal wonders, admiring the resident wildlife and learning about the history of the park. Did you know that Yellowstone is where the National Park Service installed its first permanent female park ranger—a Yellowstone area local, Marguerite Lindsley—in 1925? Yellowstone is magnificent, but it certainly isn't all this side of Wyoming has to offer. The park is surrounded by six national forests and borders Grand Teton National Park. All have their own rich bounty to offer visitors.