Grand Teton National Park Itinerary

Discover History, Wildlife & Fun: Family-Friendly Museums in Wyoming

Written by Amelia Mayer
Guest Blogger from:
Tales of a Mountain Mama

Across the state of Wyoming there are a number of museums that are family-friendly. Not only do these museums all have hands-on features, but they also welcome kid exploration and learning.

National Historic Trails Interpretive Center – Casper

The National HIstoric Trails Interpretive Center is a free museum commemorating Native American history and early explorers. The exhibits in seven galleries are hands-on and help teach about the travel corridors of the Pony Express, Mormon hand carts, and the Oregon and California trails. It’s a great stop for a couple hours with kids to let them discover the rich Wyoming history.

 

We also think The Science Zone is worth stopping at for an affordable and fun place for kids to learn through science.

 

Museum of the American West – Lander

The Museum of the American West is open May – October and allows visitors to walk through original Lander buildings in the Pioneer village and Xeriscape garden. The museum also includes an outdoor performance area for Native American Dances.

Online the museum is also working on a homesteader database where you can search the names of people who homesteaded in Lander in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

 

We recommend stopping at the Lander Children’s Museum for a couple hours to let kids explore and play. Exhibits include a S.T.E.M. area, an art/drama area, a toddler room and a nature room.

 

Wyoming Dinosaur Center – Thermopolis

We can’t talk about the history of Wyoming without including a museum dedicated to Wyoming’s reptile claim-to-fame – the dinosaurs. The world-class facility has one of the largest and most unique fossil collections in the world, interesting for visitors of all ages.

There are dig site tours available four times daily in the summer months on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also an opportunity for kids aged 8-12 to do a full day kids-only dig (reservations required) for $100.

 

Wyoming State Museum – Cheyenne

The Wyoming State Museum is another free very hands-on museum that is a good stop with the family. While it is fairly small, it is full of Wyoming relics. It also has a special exhibit commemorating the National Park Service and it’s partnership in preserving wild spaces in Wyoming.

 

Buffalo Bill Center of the West – Cody

The Buffalo Bill Center in Cody is actually five museums in one and is known as the “Smithsonian of the West”. It is a museum you should plan on visiting for more than one day if you can manage it, but at least allow for a few hours.

The Buffalo Bill Museum gives a view into the world of Buffalo Bill and the Cody he loved. The Draper Natural History Museum showcases the natural beauty and animals of Yellowstone. The Whitney West Art Museum let’s visitors see the West through the artists who loved it. The Plains Indian Museum is an opportunity to explore the Plains Indian peoples. And, finally, the Cody Firearms Museum is a unique exploration of how firearms shaped the culture of the American West.

 

We also recommend visiting Old Trail Town during the summer months for a unique opportunity to walk through the original historic layout of Cody, Wyoming.

 

Laramie Plains Museum

The Laramie Plains Museum is located in the beautiful historic Ivinson Mansion and gives a glimpse into early Wyoming living. The Mansion itself was a Cathedral school for girls open until 1958, so shows a unique slice of western history. Now restored and full of Victorian charm, it’s worth spending a couple hours going through.

 

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

While Fort Laramie was originally established as a fur trading fort in 1834, it evolved into an expansive military post, pivotal in the west until it’s closure in 1890. The fort boasts 11 restored structures, cannon exhibits and an opportunity to get a glimpse into western culture through a self-guided tour.

 

National Bighorn Sheep Center – Dubois

For such a small town, the National Bighorn Sheep Center boasts quite a museum experience.  The Whiskey Mountain Herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is one of the largest herds in the world and are remarkable animals. The museum helps visitors understand the sheep’s behavior and their habitat.

At the center guided and self-guided tours are available along with various programs for youth. They also have an extensive list of online educational resources organized by grade level.

 

National Museum of Wildlife Art – Jackson

The National Museum of Wildlife Art is Jackson’s gem and has fantastic features both inside and outside. Throughout the summer the museum offers outdoor live music, theater, yoga and a great walk along the ¾ mile trail that overlooks the National Elk Refuge.

Inside, the Children’s Discovery Gallery is a  place to let kids safely explore. This area includes a hands-on artist’s studio, life-size diorama, animal costumes, a reading nook and puppet theater.

 

For kids we also recommend visiting the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum. However, note that the museum is currently in it’s temporary home which is a variety of small portable buildings.

 

Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting – Greybull

The outdoor Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting was started in 1987 to help preserve the history of aerial firefighting. While the museum is small with a handful of planes and a trailer with some information, it is a great place to make a quick stop as you’re driving by.

 

Museum of the Mountain Man – Pinedale

The Museum of the Mountain Man preserves the history of the Rocky Mountain fur trade which is a significant part of Wyoming’s history. The museum helps visitors understand the heritage of Wyoming settlers that came battling the harsh conditions of this remote land.

 

Amelia Mayer, guest blogger

About Amelia Mayer

Amelia lives with her husband and five young children in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom she quickly learned that the days were a lot more enjoyable when spent outside where tantrums are more subdued. They have made it a family mission to make an outdoor life as their “normal” and love exploring their home state of Wyoming together.
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Yellowstone National Park Itinerary

Black to Yellow Itinerary

Stories of the American West echo throughout the Black to Yellow region, home to kaleidoscopic landscapes and iconic sights. During your journey, discover geologic marvels, dense evergreen forests and sprawling prairielands. Step into the past to meet larger-than-life characters like Buffalo Bill Cody, and find out what life was like in Wyoming during different periods in history.

To read this article visit: https://travelwyoming.com/itinerary/salt-to-stone/

Salt to Stone Itinerary

Welcoming small towns brimming with local flavor and stretches of unscathed wilderness make the Salt to Stone region a colorful adventureland waiting to be discovered by road trippers. Trace the footsteps of mountain men and women, discover dreamy mountain vistas by foot, bike or car — and tour museums and attractions that showcase Western culture at its finest.

To read this article visit: https://travelwyoming.com/itinerary/salt-to-stone/

Rockies to Tetons Itinerary

Those pining for epic outdoor pursuits will find plenty to do on a road trip through this region, where the beauty of the Snowy, Medicine Bow, Seminoe and Wind River mountain ranges heighten the scenery — literally. Immerse yourself in nature through activities like rock climbing, hiking and biking, and delve into American Indian, women’s suffrage and frontier history.

To read this article please visit: https://travelwyoming.com/itinerary/rockies-to-tetons

Park to Park Itinerary

This region is packed with road-trip stops too special to ignore, from Wyoming’s lively capital city to quaint small towns that move at a refreshingly shower pace. Drop a line in one of the West’s most renowned fishing destinations, revel in prehistoric and natural wonders, and pick up perfect Wyoming mementos – like cowboy boots and local wine – to remember your journey.
To read this article please visit: https://travelwyoming.com/itinerary/park-to-park

Yellowstone’s Best Geothermal Features

Written by Amelia Mayer
Guest Blogger from:
Tales of a Mountain Mama

The geothermal features in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park are awe-inspiring, must-see natural wonders. However, the vastness of Yellowstone can get overwhelming as you try to see it all. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite geothermal features, showing there is certainly more to see in Yellowstone than Old Faithful.

Before we get into our favorites, take a look at this run-down of the five types of hydrothermal features you’ll see in Yellowstone. Here they are, in no particular order:

Hot springs: Pools of hydrothermally heated water.

Geysers: Hot springs with constrictions in their plumbing, which causes them to periodically erupt to release the pressure that builds up.

Mudpots: Hot springs that are acidic enough to dissolve the surrounding rock and typically also lack water in their systems.

Travertine terraces: Hot springs that rise up through limestone, dissolve the calcium carbonate and deposit the calcite that makes the travertine terraces.

Fumaroles: These hot features, also known as steam vents, lack water in their system, and instead constantly release hot steam.

Most Impressive: Upper Terraces

The Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs are especially impressive because of the size of them and the fact that they are moving and growing (which often means boardwalks have to move too!) They are a beautiful bright white with darker yellows intermixed.

The 1.7 miles of boardwalks protect the delicate features, yet allow you to really see the levels of terraces from different views.

We also love driving (or, better yet, cross-country skiing in the winter) the Terrace loop for a view of Orange Mound on the backside of the terraces.

A view of the Upper Terraces in Yellowstone National Park.

Loudest from the Inn: Beehive Geyser

Beehive is a favorite in the Upper Geyser basin. It erupts less frequently than Old Faithful (only about twice a day), but it is taller (up to 200 feet) and lasts longer (about 4-5 minutes).

Be prepared to get wet if you’re on the boardwalk next to it; wind going in the right direction will result in you getting drenched from the spray.

Fun Fact: Beehive Geyser happens to roar loud enough to hear from inside the Old Faithful Inn on a quiet night.

Most Fun to Watch: Mud Pots

While Yellowstone’s geysers are impressive in their few minutes of glory, the mud pots are truly mesmerizing. They bubble, gurgle and splatter. Due to the hydrogen sulfide gas they emit, they also smell like rotten eggs (so be prepared!)

Plan on spending some time just sitting and watching them; it’s surprisingly calming.

Oldest: Castle Geyser

Actually, Castle may be the oldest, as it’s very hard to know for sure. However, experts agree that its 12-foot high cone proves that it has been building via mineral deposits from eruptions for anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 years.

The geyser itself currently erupts every 9 to11 hours, and the jet is up to 90 feet tall.

Most Intriguing: Anemone Geyser

Anemone Geyser is our favorite because it’s like watching a toilet flush or a bathtub drain. Every few minutes you can watch it fill up, splash-erupt, then drain again.

Anemone Geyser is especially great for kids because you can get very close to it on the boardwalks and spend some time watching the cycle repeat itself.

Anemone Geyser erupts every 6-10 minutes.

Tallest: Steamboat Geyser

Steamboat Geyser is the tallest geyser in the world, but it also happens to be extremely unpredictable. In fact, while since 2018 eruptions have been more frequent, previously it has gone as long as 50 years between eruptions.

Steamboat has been measured to shoot steamy water between 300 and 400 feet in the air.

Prettiest: Grand Prismatic & Morning Glory

Because of the changing temperatures and microorganisms within the pools, we can’t list just one!

Grand Prismatic is certainly the most well-known pool and appears in numerous Yellowstone glamour shots. And for good reason – the deep blue center and orange spider legs radiating out are simply stunning. Grand Prismatic happens to be Yellowstone’s largest single hot spring and the world’s third largest.

Avoid the crowds just a bit by climbing up the new trail to an overlook on the nearby hillside. The 0.6-mile hike is worth the view.

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States.

Morning Glory is a great example of how much humans’ negligence can negatively affect thermal pools. Decades of litter being thrown in the pool actually clogged the heat sources and cooled it off. The change in temperature allowed new photosynthetic microorganisms to live there, which also changed the color.

The good news is that in recent years, attempts have been made despite challenging conditions to clean out the ‘Garbage Can’ and vibrant colors are coming back.

Amelia Mayer, guest blogger

About Amelia Mayer

Amelia lives with her husband and five young children in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom she quickly learned that the days were a lot more enjoyable when spent outside where tantrums are more subdued. They have made it a family mission to make an outdoor life as their “normal” and love exploring their home state of Wyoming together.
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Virtual Tours in Wyoming

The beauty of Wyoming doesn’t have to be hidden while travel is limited. From our state parks to national monuments, Wyoming’s scenery and towns have a diverse display of landscape and wildlife. Check out the links below to virtually explore these destinations.

National Parks and State Sites

Our national and state parks contain amazing scenes of nature. The parks are abundant with wildlife. Each virtual tour brings you to a new part of the state to explore.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park’s virtual tours feature some of the most visited areas in the park. They show a mud volcano, geysers and take you around the boardwalks to see the pools.

Grand Teton National Park

Through the Grand Teton National Park’s virtual tours you can hike to the top of the Tetons to see beautiful vistas or drive through the Moose-Wilson Corridor to learn more about wildlife.

Devils Tower National Monument

Our national monument, Devils Tower, is a towering landmark. This virtual tour will show you just how amazing the monument is.

This 3-D rendering of Devils Tower gives you a new perspective on the monument. Credit: nps.gov

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Fort Laramie was established in 1834 as a fur trading post, which evolved into a military post. For over 50 years this post stood as a monument of the Northern Plains. The historical site’s virtual tour offers a self-guided tour with panoramic views, maps and narration.

Quebec 01 State Historic Site

This site is the only accessible Peacekeeper Missile Alert Facility in the world. It was built to be hidden in plain sight. This virtual tour offers a photo walk through and 360 views.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Even when the center’s five museums are closed, the learning can continue. the Buffalo Bill Center of the West offers several ways to experience their exhibits and provide virtual programs that are fit for all ages.

Scenic and Recreation Areas

Wind River Range

The Wind River Range covers 2.25 million acres and forms a triple divide for the Columbia, Colorado and Missouri Rivers. The range includes over 40 named peaks including Wyoming’s highest: Gannett Peak at 13,804 feet. The virtual tours take you to some of the state parks within the range.

Explore Wind River Country from your couch with this engaging virtual tour. Credit: windriver.org

Snowy Range

This 360-video follows a snowmobiler’s adventure through the mountain range. The snow-covered range offers a different perspective to the mountains.

Enjoy the snow topped Snowy Range through this virtual 360 degree tour. Credit: visitlaramie.org

Vedauwoo Recreation Area

This recreational area is full of hiking paths and camping areas. The gravity-defying rock formations provide beautiful scenery. The 360-view allows you to control your experience.

Wyoming Game & Fish Live Videos

Wyoming Game & Fish have provided live webcams of their fish hatcheries and wildlife crossings. The cameras are changed every so often to give the views a new chance at catching glimpses of wildlife.

Wyoming Towns

Jackson Hole

The virtual tours of Jackson Hole include Jackson Lake Dam, Teton View Point, the Visitors Center and Granite Canyon Trail. Explore the town and surrounding areas with their unique tours.

Cody

The town of Cody has put together a selection of videos that showcase things to see and do while visiting. They have fireside chats under the stars with cowboy musicians, outfitters, fishing guides and museum curators. Catch a glimpse of Cody from the people who know it best.

Greybull

This tour includes a look at the geoscience center, the historic Greybull Hotel and the railroad. They also look at dinosaur track sites and museums.

Pinedale

These videos showcase the beauty of Pinedale. The videos will take you through Pinedale’s countryside and include a documentary about the pronghorn.

Wind River Country

These tours take you from South Pass Historic Site to the Dubois Museum. They cover some of the most exciting features Wind River has to offer.

Laramie

The live webcams feature downtown Laramie and the train depot, while also including the reservoirs and surrounding towns.

Check out downtown Laramie and its surrounding wilderness in real time with their live webcams.
Credit: visitlaramie.org

Casper

This live webcam captures the view of the Casper Mountain Trails Center Weather Station. If you catch it at the right time you may see wildlife.

Rock Springs

See Downtown Rock Springs as it was in the early 1900s with this virtual historical tour. You’ll learn some fascinating history behind the area’s oldest and most storied buildings.

We hope you have enjoyed seeing Wyoming through virtual tours and live webcams. When the time comes for us to travel safely again, we hope that you may visit these places to experience them for yourself.

A stronghold of Wyoming history.

Oh, if the walls could talk. Fort Laramie National Historic Site would have some stories.

Wild, western stories.

Fort Laramie — called Fort William and Fort John in previous iterations — was originally established in 1834 as a fur trading post. A bastion of civilization in the middle of the still-settling west. A place where travelers of all kinds stopped through. Swapping beaver and bison pelts along with tales of the road.

“The embassy on the Plains,” Park Ranger Eric Valencia calls it.

It was purchased by the U.S. Army in 1849 to establish a military post along the busy Oregon, Mormon and California trails. This also established Fort Laramie as a hub of information for those making their way to the west coast.

The Pony Express and transcontinental telegraph ran through Fort Laramie, and it even got a nod to its legacy as a trading post in Oregon Trail, the computer game.

“Fort Laramie has been a gathering place for nations and diverse cultures for centuries,” Valencia said.

This includes the treaty negotiations with the Northern Plains Indian Nations, where Fort Laramie acted as a host site for talks in the mid-1800s.

“Fort Laramie is the story of who we are,” Valencia said.

So what can visitors expect to find at Fort Laramie today?

Guided tours, historic weapons demonstrations and relics of the past. Covering life from the Northern Plains Indian Nations, to immigrant trails, military records and artifacts from the Homestead Acts.

“I hope visitors will walk away with a sense of themselves. I hope they will find an identity,” Valencia said.

“Because the story of Wyoming is the American story. And there’s no greater place to tell that than Fort Laramie.”

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