Visitors flock to the wide-open spaces of Northeast Wyoming to visit Devils Tower and play in the Black Hills, but savvy travelers won’t want to miss the area’s many charming small towns and the hidden gems they hold. Here are 10 don’t-miss spots that are guaranteed to make you want to stay awhile longer in this gorgeous corner of the state.
1. Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site
Anyone with an interest in pioneer history should not miss this fascinating relic of the Old West. Built in 1866 to protect emigrants traveling along the Bozeman Trail, Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site now features living history demonstrations, an interpretive center and self-guided walking tours on the Fort, Fetterman and Wagon Box Battlefield sites.
2. WYO Theater
Fantastic theater in small-town Wyoming? Absolutely. Opened in 1923 as the Lotus, the WYO was one of the first and is now the oldest operating vaudeville theater in Wyoming. The WYO now brings professional music, dance and theater to historic Sheridan and makes for a perfect night out when you’re in town.
3. Hoofprints of the Past Museum
Exhibits at this unique museum in downtown Kaycee cover the general history of Johnson County with special attention to the Hole-in-the-Wall, Johnson County Invasion, Dull Knife Battlefield, Fort Reno and the Bozeman Trail.
4. Ponderosa Café & Bar
This charming local restaurant offers outstanding gourmet meals at hometown prices in Hulett. A wide variety of choices include the dining room’s fresh, seasonal menus to familiar favorites in the bar.
5. Cook Lake Recreation Area
A perfect place to relax with your family, this park boasts kid-friendly fishing, hiking trails, camping, hunting, canoeing and biking. Cook Lake Recreation Area makes a stunning backdrop for unforgettable memories.
6. Vore Buffalo Jump
One of the most important archaeological sites of the late-prehistoric Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies, the Vore Buffalo Jump is a natural sinkhole that was used to trap 10,000 bison over 300 years. A boardwalk allows visitors a rare up-close look at the excavation site and displays.
7. Campbell County Rockpile Museum
In the center of the region, Gillette is a great launching pad for exploring the Northeast. While here, be sure to visit the Rockpile Museum, featuring antique rifles and spurs, indigenous artifacts and vintage farming and ranching items
8. Occidental Hotel
Really want to feel the spirit of the Wild West’s most notorious characters? Then by all means, check into the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were known to lay their heads. You can even sleep in rooms named after the outlaws. Staying at the well-preserved hotel could be the closest you’ll ever come to truly stepping back in time.
9. Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum
At this museum in Buffalo, you’ll see wagons that carried pioneers along the trails and discover how their simple wooden wheels and spartan furnishings exemplify the pluck of the pioneers and the hardships they endured. The Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum also houses an astonishing collection of indigenous, frontier military and early-settler artifacts, including clothing, weapons and everyday items.
10. Aladdin General Store
If you’re in Devils Tower country, it’s worth a 25-mile detour east to visit the century-old Aladdin General Store. The charming store sells modern conveniences as well as Western wear, jewelry, knickknacks and antiques (ask to explore the treasures in the attic!). Follow tradition by sipping a glass of lemonade on the front porch and you might feel a kinship with the people who did the exact same thing in the store’s early days.