Wyoming National Parks
Home of pristine rivers, majestic mountains, and America's first National Park, Wyoming is sure to wow you. Come #FindYourPark in Wyoming.
Wyoming National Parks
Table of Contents
7 National Parks in Wyoming
Other NPS-Affiliated Sites in Wyoming
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area includes 120,000 acres of protected areas along the Bighorn River in Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming. Popular activities include boating, camping, fishing, and hiking. The park has several Visitor Centers to explore, including the Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center in Lovell, Wyoming, the Afterbay Contact Station in Fort Smith, Montana, the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center in Montana, and the Crooked Creek Contact Station near the south entrance of the park.
The Yellowtail Dam was constructed in the 1960's creating the 71-mile Bighorn Lake. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area was designated in 1968 and today welcomes around 200,000 visitors annually.
California National Historic Trail - CA, CO, ID, KS, MO, NE, NV, OR, UT, WY
The California National Historic Trail is an incredible 2,000 miles long and recounts the journey of over 250,000 people who made their way to California during the 1840's and 50's searching for gold, prosperity, and a better life. It was the greatest mass migration in American history. The trail runs roughly from Independence, MO to Sacramento, CA, and spans ten states - California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
Passport sites and interpretive centers exist along the route in several states. A modern-day auto route is also available for those wanting to trace the trail by car.
Devils Tower National Monument
Rising up 867 ft. from the Black Hills, Devils Tower is a geologic anomaly, formed of rare igneous rock called phonolite porphyry. Devils Tower is also the largest example of columnar jointing in the world. Popular activities at the park include hiking, camping, rock climbing, and Ranger-led programs throughout the year. Because of its remoteness, Devils Tower National Monument is also suitable for spectacular night time viewing and stargazing.
The park is open all year long, seven days a week, but the Visitor Center is closed from December - March. Located in Northeast Wyoming, Devils Tower is close to other nearby parks like Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Devils Tower National Monument was established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Fort Laramie was originally established in 1834 as a fur trading center. It quickly grew to become a hub for trade and communications in the region and served as a conduit for the Pony Express, the transcontinental telegraph lines, and several trails and transportation lines. In 1890, the post was abandoned because of increasing irrelevance in the region. Fort Laramie was designated a National Historic Site in 1938.
Today, visitors can tour the Fort and Visitor Center to learn about the Fort's importance to the growing American West. Other activities include fishing, hiking, and interpretative programs.
Fossil Butte National Monument
Located south of Yellowstone in the southwest corner of Wyoming is Fossil Butte National Monument, one of America's best sites to see perfectly preserved fossils. The site is part of the ancient Green River Lake System and consists of 13 square miles of sediment, rocks, and fossils that were once part of the 900-mile Fossil Lake.
Visitors can explore the museum where there are more than 300 fossils on display, take a walk down the Journey Through Time Exhibit, hike on one of the many trails around the park, or sign up for a Ranger talk and a visit to the quarry. The park is open all year with seasonal hours.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929 and was later combined with Jackson Hole National Monument to become present-day Grand Teton National Park in 1950. The park protects about 310,000 acres total, and is most famous for the major peaks of the Teton Range that the park protects, including its highest, Grand Teton at 13,775 feet. The entire range is about 40 miles long and up to 9 miles wide.
Activities at the park are endless and are popular all year. The headwaters of the Columbia River System begin at the Snake River which provides water sport activities like rafting and paddling. River fishing, lake fishing on Lake Jenny and Lake Jackson, boating, and multi-day kayaking are also popular. Scenic drives, hiking, camping, backpacking, wildlife viewing, mountaineering, climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing are all possible here. There are four Visitor Centers in the park, none of which are open during the winter season. Grand Teton National Park is connected to Yellowstone National Park via the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, and it sees nearly 3.5 million visitors annually.
John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway
Dedicated in 1972 for Rockefeller's outstanding contributions to America's National Parks, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway is a scenic highway connecting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. This 24,000 sq. mile parcel is administered by Grand Teton National Park.
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail - IL, IA, NE, UT, WY
The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail marks the path taken by the Mormon Pioneers led by Brigham Young on their journey from Illinois to Utah, beginning in 1846. On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young arrived in what is now Salt Lake City, Utah to begin a new life with his fellow Mormons.
The 1,300 mile route begins in Nauvoo, Illinois, and moves through the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. Modern-Day auto routes with maps are available with many sites along the way for guests to visit. The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail was made part of the National Trails System on November 10, 1978.
Oregon National Historic Trail - ID, KS, MO, NE, OR, WA, WY
Beginning in Independence, Missouri and ending some 2,130 miles later in Oregon City, Oregon, and passing through seven states along the way, the Oregon Trail was the passage west for many settlers looking for a new life. The Oregon National Historic Trail marks the stories, landmarks, and landscapes of this incredible 4-month long journey made during the mid-1800's.
Today, there are several ways to experience the trail, with the most popular being by car. Maps citing various markers in each state are available to help you plan your journey . Of course, you don't have to travel the entire 2,000 miles to enjoy the trail, but for the purists who like to collect NPS Passport Stamps, you will find them at various Visitor Centers along the route here:
- Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center - Idaho
- Craters of the Moon National Historic Site - Idaho
- Three Island Crossing State Park - Idaho
- Shawnee Methodist Indian Mission State Historic Site - Kansas
- Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historical Site - Kansas
- Marysville Chamber of Commerce & Convention & Visitors Bureau - Kansas
- Harry S Truman National Historic Site - Missouri
- Trailside Center - Missouri
- Alexander Majors House Museum - Missouri
- National Frontier Trails Museum - Missouri
- Scotts Bluff National Monument - Nebraska
- Homestead National Monument of America - Nebraska
- Flagstaff Hill/National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Oregon
- McLoughlin House - Oregon
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site - Washington
- National Historic Trails Interpretive Center - Wyoming
- Martin's Cove - Wyoming
- Fort Bridger State Historic Park - Wyoming
-Fossil Butte National Monument - Wyoming
Pony Express National Historic Trail - CA, CO, KS, MO, NE, NV, UT, WY
Before there was the telegraph, the most efficient method for getting messages across the country was the Pony Express. Riders could get a piece of mail from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California - 2,005 miles - in just ten days. As thousands of settlers traveled west along the Oregon Trail during the mid-1800's, along with the height of the Gold Rush and the Mormon migration, the need arose to get mail quickly to the West. Although the Pony Express only existed for eighteen months in 1860-1861, it became synonymous with the Old West.
Today, you can trace the Pony Express National Historic Trail at various points throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. Check here for sites and points of interest in each state. The Pony Express National Historic Trail was designated by Congress in 1992.
Snake River Headwaters Wild and Scenic River
The Snake River Headwaters system runs for a total of 413 miles throughout the mountains of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Several tributaries, creeks, and rivers make up the system which have been designated for their beauty and recreation. The Snake River Headwaters Wild and Scenic River runs through the Greater Yellowstone Area and includes some of the most pristine rivers anywhere in the world.
Yellowstone National Park - ID, MT, WY
Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park became America's first National Park and also the first in the world. The park is enormous, covering 3,468 square miles, which offers visitors a variety of ways to enjoy the scenery. Yellowstone's most popular features are its geysers, the most famous being Old Faithful. Yellowstone is situated on the Yellowstone Caldera - America's largest super-volcano - which is responsible for the geothermal activity in the park.
Besides viewing the geysers, other popular activities in Yellowstone include hiking, backpacking, camping, cross-country skiing, biking, horseback riding, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. Yellowstone's reintroduction of the gray wolf to the park is one of the park's successes in recent years. Other popular wildlife include bison, black bears, bighorn sheep, elk, grizzly bears, mule deer, pronghorn, and many more.
Yellowstone National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1978 and was America's first to receive such a designation. It is also designated as a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations. Yellowstone is a busy park - one of America's busiest - and receives more than 4 million visitors annually, so plan accordingly. Yellowstone has ten Visitor Centers scattered throughout the park to explore, and it shares borders with Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.