From childhood favorites to exciting new experiences, the turn of the season means a chance for everyone to get out and enjoy fall activities.
As the air gets cooler and reds and yellows overtake the greens of summer, abandon the car and explore Wyoming by foot, wheel, hoof or paddle. Try these attractions to curate the perfect fall trip in Wyoming, and don’t forget your camera.
1. Attend a Wyoming Fall Festival
From the crisp, cool air to the crunch of leaves underfoot, there is nothing quite like an outdoor autumn festival. Music, art and harvest season flavors abound to put you in a fall mood, and Wyoming is an excellent place to find them. Celebrate artwork inspired by the natural world at the Jackson Hole Arts Festival, treat yourself to live music and family-friendly games at the Hay Days Fall Festival or sip the season at Casper Oktoberfest. Hungry? Have a taste of the Mediterranean at the Cheyenne Greek Festival.
2. Go for a Scenic Fall Drive
If your getaway leads you on day trips to see fall colors, there’s no better place to hit the road than the Cowboy State. Hilly and winding roads weaving through a sea of leaves glowing orange and crimson is not an experience you can have every day, so make the most of it by cruising one of many scenic byways that run throughout the state. From the dazzling Flaming Gorge – Green River Basin Scenic Byway to the peaceful Star Valley Scenic Byway, these are among the best ways to experience fall.
3. Embark on a Fall Bike Ride
Miles of mountain bike trails intertwine throughout Wyoming’s state forests and parks, offering riders a workout as well as an immersion in fall foliage. Head to the Happy Jack Recreation Area near Laramie to access a sprawling network of single- and double-track trails that lace in and out of golden aspen glades and fir trees. Looking for a rental before you hit the trails? Check out Pedal House Bike Shop and get the perfect ride for you.
4. Hit the Autumn Trails ATV-Style
Between Baggs and Encampment is Aspen Alley. The mile-long aisle of towering aspens mesh together knitting a colorful canopy above the dirt road (check out this video). Although stunning year-round, in late September, the leaves turn an impressive shade of neon yellow. The Continental Divide Trail is only a few miles away, so you can make a loop connecting the Divide trails to Aspen Alley for the perfect fall trip.
5. Experience Fall Sightseeing on Horseback
There’s nothing like combining fun fall activities with the spirit of the old West. Sightseeing on horseback allows you to hear the clomping of your horse as he shuffles through the dried leaves and take deep breaths as you admire the autumn scenery. Ahhh, smells like fresh air and … bacon? Many outfitters offer early morning rides that end with an authentic cowboy breakfast, complete with flapjacks and strong, black coffee. Find horseback guides here.
6. Witness Autumn from an Aerial Tram
One of the best ways to experience fall colors is from the sky. Ride the famous 100-passenger Jackson Hole Aerial Tram from Teton Village to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain for a bird’s eye view of the fall colors below. Passengers are treated to a panorama of the arboreal diversity of Grand Teton National Park and may also catch a glimpse of bears, moose, eagles or deer. Beyond that, don’t miss a brand new aerial experience in Jackson on Snow King Mountain’s scenic gondola rides. It only takes about 5 minutes to get to 1,600 feet, and the Panorama House waits at the top for a tasty treat with a view.
7. Find Your Great Pumpkin in a Pumpkin Patch
Does anything make for a more perfect fall trip than picking out just the right pumpkin? Whether you’re carving, cooking or simply setting them outside to welcome the season, Wyoming is an excellent place to have some family fun while finding them. Stop by Ellis Harvest Home in Lingle to visit their pumpkin patch, try your hand at the corn maze and take the whole gang to the Feed Bunk and Bean Bin for a tasty fall treat when you’re done.
Highlight: Annual Kids Pumpkin Walk
Got an eye out for fall activities for the littles but want to enjoy them in a frightfully historic location? Look no further than the Annual Kids Pumpkin Walk, hosted by the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. In addition to the fascinating scenery, your kiddos can play in a pumpkin patch, run around a straw maze, go “trunk or treating” and more.
8. Get Active on a Fall Hike
Turn up the intensity a notch on Medicine Bow Trail, a popular southeast trail starting from the Lake Marie West trailhead. The switchbacks lead you out of lower meadows and in through aspen groves and pines, eventually making it above the tree line. This 6-mile-hike has an elevation gain of more than 1,500 feet and tops off at 11,500 feet. The reward for your hard work is a picturesque panorama of the Snowy, Sierra Madre and Park Ranges. After you’ve hiked the peaks, indulge yourself in a leisurely hot spring in nearby Saratoga.
9. Take a Leisurely Fall Stroll
For a less intense day trip to see fall colors, Bear River State Park, a popular stop along I-80 near Evanston, features three miles of foot trails within park limits, including 1.2 miles of paved pathways and an arched footbridge that crosses the Bear River. The park is home to the striking white bison and a small herd of elk, kept for public viewing. Grasslands surround the colorful aspens, blue spruce, lodgepole pine and cottonwood trees that grow along the river.
10. Explore Historic Ghost Towns
When the leaves begin their annual descent, it can be a beautiful reminder that everything changes, including some historic cities and towns throughout Wyoming. Many Western ghost towns were founded due to railroad expansion and mining in days gone by, but all have since been abandoned, leaving remnants and resident stories behind. Keep your eyes open for any spirits that may remain.
11. Cruise by in a Fall Boat Ride
Want to partake in unique fall activities? Wyoming is the place, and Keyhole State Park is a peaceful spot to spend an afternoon boating, fishing, bird-watching and tree-viewing. The lake is on the eastern edge of the famed Black Hills and is within view of Devils Tower National Monument. If you can take your eyes off the foliage, you might spot some antelope, deer and turkeys.
12. Float along in a Hot Air Balloon
Speaking of unique, you can soar thousands of feet above Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Snake River. You’ll see Yellowstone Plateau, Teton Village and seven mountain ranges. The vibrant colors of fall trees bathed in the pastel shades of a Wyoming sunrise will take your breath away during your early morning balloon ride.
13. Ride the Wagon Train on the Oregon Trail
One of the best ways to experience fall colors is by doing what the cowboys did. On the Oregon Trail near Casper, visitors can enjoy the same scenery as frontiersmen of the 1800s. Ride horse-drawn wagons through the valleys and buttes of the central Wyoming section and get a dose of history, too.
14. Watch Wildlife amongst the Fall Trees
Elk, bighorn sheep, bison and other Wyoming wildlife are in rut during the fall, meaning you’re more likely to see them. The start of the migration season is also reason for animals to be more active in autumn. Schedule a wildlife tour at the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois or with several guide services available in the Jackson and Yellowstone areas for the best chance to see some of Wyoming’s most famed wildlife.
15. Fly Fish along Rivers & Streams
A fly fishing trip is one of the best day trips to see fall colors, and the season (October specifically) is prime time for fly fishing in Wyoming. Brown trout spawn during this time of year, making the Miracle Mile near Casper and other portions of the North Platte a must-fish. Other prime spots include the Salt River near Jackson, the Green River near Rock Springs and the lower Encampment River near Encampment. Nothing beats the rhythm of casting in the crisp fall air, surrounded by the season’s colors.