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Wyoming? The Whole State? Yes. We think the United States made a serious error in 1890 when they approved the upgrading of the Wyoming Territory to a full fledged state. We think instead they should have declared it as Wyoming National Park. All of it. They should have grandfathered in the vast cattle ranches under the condition that they also add guest facilities, as most of them have done anyway. We think the existing 1890s towns should have become servicing centers but not allowed to grow, much like Gatlinburg, East & West Glacier, Tusayan, Ely and the towns on the Outer Banks. We think all of this because the Wyoming landscape is so vast, so spectacular, so inspiring, so symbolic of everything that is America, that it deserves to be protected forever. As John Muir famously said, "You should be very careful not to visit Wyoming until later in life, because once you have seen Wyoming, everywhere else you go will seem disappointing."
The United States did not declare all of Wyoming a national park, but much of it is still in pristine condition anyway. There are a few more roads than we'd like (we remember when the whole state had 12 paved highways; now there are 18), and the towns are a little bigger, but you can still vanish into the wilderness in any part of the state. The two best ways to see Wyoming are by backpacking and horsepacking. There's a little canoeing, rafting, mountain biking, skiing, off roading and rock climbing, but the most breathtaking locations are accessible only by foot or saddle. So we'll touch on those other activities, but most of our attention here will focus on backpacking and horse packing.
There are so many great attractions in the state,, and some of the remote, rarely visited corners hold some of the most unique treasures. But we only have so much room, and you only have so much time, so we have carefully chosen what we think are the six most spectacular mountain ranges plus the Yellowstone Plateau, and within each of those have selected what we believe to be the best routes. We'll mention some of the other attractions as sidetrips. Several of them are Must See stops : Fort Laramie and the Oregon Trail, Devil's Tower, the big rodeos in Laramie and Cheyenne, the hot springs at Thermopolis, the Red Desert, Flaming Gorge and Fossil Buttes National Monument. Some of the towns deserve attention, too. Dubois, Pinedale, Medicine Bow, Tensleep, Centennial, Saratoga and Buffalo have historical, literary and cultural importance even though each of them is very small and several are little more than villages.
As we have done in every section of this website, we always recommend the best places to stay and eat on the nights just before and just after your trips into the back country. Wyoming is especially good at this. Incredible lodges, bed & breakfasts and cabins, and some very fine restaurants, are located within a few miles of some of North America's greatest trailheads. The most famous of the bunch are The Corral in Centennial, one of the top three steak houses in America; Tensleep Saloon with its famous ribeyes; Elk Mountain Hotel at the base of the famous Rock Creek Trail in the Medicine Bows; the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow; The Stockman in Pinedale; and several of the lodges and guest ranches out in the national forests. More than anywhere else, Wyoming demands that you give it Time. Allow at least two weeks for a good trip. And there is a lifetime's worth of trails, fishing holes, mountain ranges and other attractions to bring you back year after year. Saddle Up and Enjoy.
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