WHERE TO TRAVEL WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING IN MIND? TAKE A ROAD TRIP TO WYOMING!

Consider a road trip to Wyoming if you are looking for an incredible travel destination that allows for social distancing. Most travelers head to Wyoming to visit Yellowstone National Park. Some venture out a little farther to explore Grand Teton National Park. Only a few go beyond these obvious attractions to discover the rest of this fascinating land featuring the Wild West culture and untouched nature. How untouched? Forty-eight percent of Wyoming’s open spaces are federal public lands. And you can have it all to yourself! Wyoming is the least populated state in the United States. It is a mecca for nature lovers, photographers, outdoor adventurers, or those simply looking for isolation and peace. In this post, you will learn about a road trip to Wyoming and how to get lost among its treasures.

At Red Reflet Ranch, I discovered the joy of horseback riding.
At Red Reflet Ranch, I discovered the joy of horseback riding.

WHERE TO TRAVEL WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING IN MIND? TAKE A ROAD TRIP TO WYOMING

So far, I visited Wyoming twice. Each time it was a road trip that took me through the fascinating less-traveled areas. Beyond the national parks, the state seemed untouched. I truly enjoyed the mountains, meadows, wildlife, and the western style small towns, each with its unique character. Whatever civilization brought to the state works in harmony with the heart and the soul of the land.

Presenting my brand new hat and the sunset over Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Presenting my brand new hat and the sunset over Grand Teton National Park.

Road Trip to Wyoming – Places to Visit

Yellowstone National Park

If you can see just one national in your life, Yellowstone should be it. With its historical importance, diverse scenic beauty, and an abundance of wildlife, the park can certainly impress. Established in 1872, it is the world’s first national park. Its mission is to preserve the beauty of the land for generations to come. Today the park is recognized by the United Nations as a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site for its worldwide significance of natural and cultural resources.

West Thumb Geyser Basin for some reason does not attract many crowds but it is stunningly beautiful.
West Thumb Geyser Basin, for some reason, does not attract many crowds but it is stunningly beautiful.

The beauty of Yellowstone goes beyond imagination and the area is enormous! Make sure to devote enough time to enjoy it. Visitors can take the 142-mile Grand Loop Road that forms a figure 8, with connecting roads to the five entrances. To make the most of your time, without driving back a forth, try to make a reservation at least at two different lodges or campgrounds. And do it well in advance, on the first day the reservations are taken for your dates! Also, remember to follow a well-planned itinerary for Yellowstone to see the most important attractions.

When visiting Yellowstone, remember, bison are mostly active at dusk
When visiting Yellowstone, keep in mind that bison are mostly active at dusk.

How to follow social  distancing in Yellowstone National Park

You may ask yourself, how can you find solitude in the park that receives 4 million visitors per year. Here is tip #1. Do not overload your itinerary. You need at least a week to enjoy all of the park’s treasures. Tip #2. Go against the flow. The majority of visitors sleep in and venture out at about 9 am. After a few hours on the go, around 4 pm, they are done. If you go against that trend, you will have the park to yourself. Get up for the sunrise, and then take a long relaxing break for lunch when everyone else is storming the most popular sights. Start moving again around 4 pm. You will be surprised how untouched the area will feel!

Sunset somewhere along the long at Yellowstone National Park..
Sunset somewhere along the road at Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Teton National Park

Despite being home to one of the highest mountain ranges in Wyoming, Grand Teton hides successfully in the shadow of Yellowstone. And that is a good thing. Not as vast as its famous neighbor, it reminds relatively uncrowded and easier to absorb without driving for hours. It is a place where visitors can enjoy the environment on a more intimate level.

At 6am even the most popular spots in Grand Teton National Park remain peaceful.
At 6am, even the most popular spots in Grand Teton National Park remain peaceful.

The park protects stunning mountain scenery and diverse wildlife. Established as a national park in 1929, it takes its name from its most prominent feature, Grand Teton (13,775 ft), the tallest mountain in the range. A total of nine peaks rise in the park to elevations above 12,000 ft. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching. Follow the combined itinerary for Grand Teton and Yellowstone to make the most of your visit. The park is open year-round, but some roads may be closed due to icy conditions in winter.

Step our from the main road at Grand Teton and you will have this view for yourself.
Take just a few steps from the main road at Grand Teton, and you will have this view for yourself.

Devils Tower National Monument

In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt named the tower the United States’ first national monument. I visited it almost twenty years ago, on an epic family road trip from Pennsylvania to Yellowstone National Park. Devils Tower appeared in front of us out of nowhere, just spiked 867 feet above Wyoming’s rolling prairies.! To put in perspective, from its base, it is more than four football fields tall. Visitors enjoy hiking and rock climbing there.

If you are traveling from the East, stop in South Dakota to Explore Mount Rushmore.

Devils Tower is a great stop on the way to Yellowstone from the East Coast.
Memories of good old days. Devils Tower was one of our many stops on the way to Yellowstone from Pennsylvania. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This is not exactly a place to find solitude but visit it anyway for a change of pace and a taste of the West. The town is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the ski resort as well as Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Jackson Hole valley is where pioneers sought new adventures, and today, the town retains its unmistaken cowboy charm with western-style bars and restaurants. You will find many more beautiful cowboy towns in Wyoming.

The main square in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The main square in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Visitors enjoy Jackson Hole as a thriving outdoor paradise during the summer months. You can take a scenic float through the park or enjoy whitewater rafting in the Snake River Canyon. Mountain biking trails leave right from the town. Horseback riding excursions are also available.

The Wild West theme is still alive and well in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The Wild West theme is still alive and well in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Castle Gardens Scenic Area in Ten Sleep, Wyoming

If you really want to have a whole attraction to yourself, Castle Gardens is the place to go. This scenic area, at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains at an elevation of 4,500 feet, features fantastic rock formations, many of them resembling elaborate castles. Due to its secluded location and lack of information about its existence, this hidden gem can satisfy anyone’s need for social isolation.
Castle Garden, Wyoming.
Castle Garden, Wyoming. I found my own throne in a castle!
If this natural phenomenon was located closer to any more populated areas, it would be a hit among travelers for sure. Out-of- this-world formations serve as great day-use or overnight camping area. Four campsites with shade structures, tables, grills, fire rings, and a restroom are provided. You will, however, need to bring in your own water and take back out your trash.
There are actually two Castle Gardens in Wyoming. Take note that this one is located by Ten Sleep, Wyoming.
Before thunderstorm at Castle Gardens, Wyoming. Social distancing guaranteed here.
Before thunderstorm at Castle Gardens, Wyoming.

Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area

This is another fantastic area to get away from it all during your road trip to Wyoming. Flaming Gorge, a wild country located on Utah and Wyoming border, promises a great adventure, and social distancing is guaranteed. Overshadowed by famous by national parks, it remains unknown despite its breathtaking scenery. With an outstanding red rock landscape magnified by its reflection in the 91-mile reservoir, the area is a photographer’s paradise. Here you will find a true escape to nature, so pristine that your only distraction will be the song of the birds.

Wait for the sunset to get to get a effect of "flaming" gorge. You can count on social distancing here.
Wait for the sunset to get an effect of “flaming” Gorge.

The reservoir provides varied recreational activities such as boating, waterskiing, parasailing, swimming, and fishing. It is famous for its trophy trout fishing. Boating is a must to truly experience the area. Rent a pontoon boat at Cedar Springs Marina and enjoy rocks reflecting in the water creating a vibrant tunnel of colors.

Boating is spectacular at Flaming Gorge and allows for social distancing.
Boating is spectacular at Flaming Gorge.

Bighorn National Forest

Located in north-central Wyoming, the Bighorn Mountains are a sister range of the Rocky Mountains. Conveniently located halfway between Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorns are a great vacation destination in themselves. Visit the Bighorn National Forest and enjoy the multiple reservoirs, 30 campgrounds, four group campgrounds, three scenic byways, 10 picnic areas, eight lodges, many miles of streams, 189,000 acres of Wilderness, 1,200 miles of trails, and much more. With  all of this available, you can rarely see a car on the road. Social distancing at its best!

One of the best place in Wyoming for social distancing.Traffic at Bighorn National Forest.
Traffic at Bighorn National Forest.

Red Reflet Ranch

Skip this paragraph if you cannot afford five stars accommodation! 

This the first time I recommend a resort as a tourist attraction, but there is a reason for that – 30 acres of incredible red rock beauty! I never knew that Wyoming has its own red rock country until I was invited to visit the ranch. Red Reflet Ranch, one of a kind Wyoming dude ranch, delivers it all: outstanding accommodation, classic western scenery, a wide range of activities for all ages, and sophisticated all-inclusive dining.

MIles of dirt road and hiking terrain await at Red Reflet Ranch.
Miles of dirt roads and hiking terrains await at Red Reflet Ranch.

The resort accommodates 20 people in 4 top-notch lodges spread far apart from each other. They offer fascination views of the mountains, fully stock kitchen, and even a hot tub for chilly desert nights! If you can afford that kind of isolation, go for it! It is worth every penny.

Red Reflet Ranch, the main lodge.
Red Reflet Ranch, the main lodge.

Road Trip to Wyoming – What to look for

Wildflowers

If you are a wildflower enthusiast like I am, you will love a road trip to Wyoming. I visited in the middle of July and found many carpets of flowers, including beautiful lupine along the roads. Keep your eyes open at Grant Teton and Yellowstone for stunning colorful meadows. Pack your food and camping chairs and find a place for social distancing among those natural gardens.

Wildflowers somewhere along the road in Wyoming.
Somewhere along the road in Wyoming.

Wildlife

With more than 98,000 squares miles of terrain and one person per every 111 acres, it’s no wonder that Wyoming is one of the best wildlife-watching destinations in North America. Home to more than 100 mammal species and 400 species of birds, Wyoming’s wild residents include bison, mountain lions, wolverines, bobcats, grizzly bears, black bears, elk, moose, deer, and pronghorn antelope, as well as wild horses. Many of Wyoming’s wildlife reside in state and national parks, national forests, national wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges, but you can see animals anywhere along the roads.

When visiting Yellowstone National Park, you will certainly meet the locals, but follow the rules of social distancing.
When visiting Yellowstone National Park, you will certainly meet the locals.

The Charm of the Wild West

No matter where your travels take you in Wyoming, you’ll be roaming through landscapes and history of the Wild West. If possible, stay at one of many ranches and maybe even learn to ride a horse. There are many places to experience true Wild West in Wyoming. 

Hart Six Ranch Wyoming. How is this as a wake up call?
Hart Six Ranch, Wyoming. How is this for a wake-up call?

Wyoming has been a romanticized part of American culture for over a hundred years. In the days of the Wild West, the state was full of buffalo herds and cowboys. It was originally inhabited by the Crow, Shoshone, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Ute Indians, and the “Cowboys and Indians” theme of Wyoming was popularized across America by Buffalo Bill and his Wild West troupe. It seems that even these days, the charm remains relatively untouched.

Wyoming road trip allows for social distancing among incredible nature.

Solitude

To sum it all. I can’t imagine a better state for social distancing than Wyoming. The state is the 10th largest by area, the least populous, and the second most sparsely populated state in the country. The largest city in Wyoming is Cheyenne, with a population of 65000! It can’t get any better than that if you want to enjoy nature without interruptions.

Early morning at Grand Teton National Park. Social distancing at its best.
Early morning at Grand Teton National Park.  You can hear the silence. 

Forty-eight percent of Wyoming’s open spaces are federal public lands, and nearly 6 percent is managed by the State of Wyoming. This means one thing: Wyoming is the ultimate place for an outdoor adventure or peaceful retreat.

Find your own outdoor adventure in Wyoming.
Find your own outdoor adventure in Wyoming. Just you and the river! How is this for social distancing? 

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