Best Places to Relax in Wyoming

Sometimes real life is too full of adventure. Tip back your hat: Wyoming has plenty in store for visitors who just want to chill.

By: Carrie Hamblin
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Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: New Thought Digital

Photo By: Cathryn Kerns of Kerns Photography

Photo By: Courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch

Photo By: Cheryl Nemazie / Courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch

Photo By: Marina Poushkina / Shutterstock

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Jeff Vanuga / Bitterroot Ranch

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: NPS / Diane Renkin

Photo By: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Photo By: Albany County Tourism Board

Camping in Calm

We all have different versions of what being relaxed looks like: isolation for some, activity for others. Wyoming has it all. Your first consideration is where to stay. With a whole lotta land and just a few residents, there is plentiful space to pitch a tent if you want to get up close and personal with nature. Recreation.gov has a searchable list of campsites, cabins and yurts throughout the state, and WYO Parks has information specific to the state parks. There is no surer way to let go of that anxiety around your last project than to contemplate the vastness of the sky on a clear Wyoming night. The Milky Way doesn't care about that TPS report.

Restful Ranches

If your version of relaxed is a little more civilized, Wyoming is chock-full of lodges, resorts and ranches run by friendly proprietors who are happy to take responsibility for your personal comfort. These residences range from down-home to fancy-schmancy and everything in between. Maybe you're run ragged with the work or family routine at home. In that case, choose an all-inclusive accommodation like those offered by Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa in Shoshone National Forest outside Dubois: cozy abodes, delicious dining and curated activities surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks. A facial or massage at the on-site spa is the perfect way to finish off a day of hiking, trail-riding or fishing.

Stillness in Activity

Alternatively, if you are stuck at a desk all day and find relaxation in hard outdoor work, consider staying at one of the authentic working ranches around the state. Or spare the indoors entirely and spend a week with Double Rafter in Ranchester driving a cattle herd into (or out of) the Bighorn Mountains. Rain or shine, each day involves hours on horseback followed by tent camping in gorgeous surrounds. Restorative, indeed.

Signature Spas

If pampering is what you're after, Brush Creek Ranch in the North Platte Valley near Saratoga will deliver. This award-winning, 30,000-acre all-inclusive resort offers a massive menu of activities, adventures and entertainment and has its own world-class dining establishment and spa. The Trailhead Spa menu incudes manis, pedis and seriously luxurious spa treatments. The Signature Teepee Journey is what the proprietors refer to as "a world-renowned teepee excursion" and includes a three-hour intuitive massage in one of the spa teepees. The river will carry off all the worries of home.

Wilderness Intentions

You can even use your Wyoming vacation to take yourself from "MOM!" to the asana mama you've always wanted to be. The Rocky Mountain air and expansive sky make for the perfect yoga environs, and all-inclusive ranches like Brush Creek Ranch offer classes and private instruction as part of the repertoire.

Mountain Meditations

For those preferring meditation, several centers in Wyoming offer seminars, retreats and classes. The unaffiliated Ring Lake Ranch in the Wind River Mountains features topical seminar weeks promising "renewal in a sacred wilderness," and the Episcopal Church-affiliated TAC near Cody is "dedicated to fostering spiritual renewal and creative thinking in a quiet and reflective environment." For the drop-in experience, visit Buddhist meditation classes in Cheyenne. And then there is always you, that outcropping on the hillside and the moment.

Harmonious Hot Springs

Wyoming's geology generously provides opportunities to steep away your stress. Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis in the middle of the state has the largest mineral hot spring in the world, and the State of Wyoming Bath House makes those waters available in public or private tubs at a comfortable temperature for soaking. The Teton area features the waterfall-fed Granite Hot Springs. In the south, the Healing Waters Spa at Saratoga Hot Springs Resort is located on the site of the original State Bath House and gives its guests the option of the large pool or private teepee-covered pools (on a first-come, first-soak basis). The only human-safe hot spring in Yellowstone isn't really a hot spring but where the Boiling River Hot Spring runoff mixes with the Gardner River, making it a pleasant temperature for soaking.

Open to Exploration

After you're suitably unwound, it's time to explore. Whatever the contrivance, there is something to be seen. The Wyoming Department of Transportation has descriptions of the six scenic byways, and America's Scenic Byways has a few more—some a brief hour, some worthy of a day trip. Or, if your travels are taking you to different areas in the state, make a point to use one of these methods to get there. Lodge and ranch proprietors are excellent resources for the most scenic way to get to and from their establishments. Windows down, radio on—your stress flew out the window miles ago.

Healing on Horseback

If you want the true Wyoming experience—the experience of every resident—you'll hop on a horse during your visit. The therapeutic bond between horse and human has been well established. And horseback is a wonderful way to take full advantage of the vast natural splendor of Wyoming, allowing distance jaunts that may be too much, or inaccessible, by foot. Whether you want trail rides through mountains or running free through meadows, using horses is welcomed on much of the public land in the state. Tour providers have short and longer excursions, and pack trips offer the opportunity to get deep into the heart of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Bitterroot Ranch in Dubois offers guests horseback-riding focused vacations, with the opportunity to spend the entire vacation in the saddle. Annual Horseback Riding & Yoga retreats pair yoga instruction with rides into the wilderness.

Windless Waters

Leave the land and get out on Wyoming's thousands of miles of rivers and hundreds of lakes and reservoirs for a not-to-be-missed perspective on the state's vast expanse. Gaze up at the bald eagles on the bluffs during a leisurely kayak trip down the North Platte River outside Saratoga. Marvel from below at the colorful canyon walls on a paddle along the Green River in Flaming Gorge south of the state. After an evening fishing, watch the sun set from your boat on Fremont Lake in Pinedale. Enjoy a foggy morning canoe trip on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park or a daylong wildlife spotting excursion from Lewis River Channel to Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone. The water is gently lapping your boat as you gaze up at the sky beyond the surrounding mountains. You drift right out of your worries.

Center in Winter

There is simply nothing more serene than the natural world in winter. The cold, clean air and insulation of snow deliver only the sound of nonhibernating residents and the crunching of snow beneath your feet. Wyoming is like this for a good portion of the year and lucky for us it's during that holiday time when we most need a recharge. You don't have to bring all the gear—rental companies are plentiful. Resorts and lodges often have close access to the numerous trails traversing the state, including in the national forests and parks. Yellowstone permits skiing and snowshoeing on all unplowed roads and trails, and authorized operators offer guided tours. Take one of the Yellowstone Forever tours to learn about the park and its residents from an experienced guide, or head to Bridger-Teton National Forest and venture out on your own, skiing the 10 miles out to Granite Hot Springs to warm up.

Lulling Libations

Who can truly feel relaxed without good sustenance and, similarly, what vast comfort can be provided through delicious food and beverage! Numerous Wyoming culinarians, distillers and brewers come through for us. Five-star meals can be had across the state, from carefully concocted cosmopolitan fare from city proprietors to indulgent comfort food made from on-hand ingredients at the ranches across the state. Additionally, Wyoming boasts more than 25 breweries and a handful of distilleries and wineries, meaning you always have a local libation available. Experience the Firehole Chili Porter at MISHAP! Brewing Company in Buffalo, the Contortionist Gin at Backwards Distilling Company in Casper and Crazy Woman or Wild Man mead at Big Lost Meadery in Gillette. As Virginia Woolf once said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

Social Harmony

Sometimes untangling those knots simply means cutting them loose, right? If your version of relaxation is distraction, Wyoming has its share of fair and festivity. There are annual beer festivals in several cities, craft and makers events, climbing, biking and woodchopping competitions and innumerable rodeos across the state. How about a little edification with that festivity? Native American powwows are celebrations of culture with dance and drumming competitions and games. Several powwows take place in Wyoming every year, many on the Wind River Indian Reservation and also in Cody and Cheyenne. The brightly colored clothing, the enthusiastic dancing and the mesmerizing drumming will pull you out of your worries and root you in the moment.