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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Castle Gardens Scenic Area in Ten Sleep, 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Road Trip to Wyoming – What to look for
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.