As the air gets cooler and the reds and yellows of fall overtake the greens of summer, abandon the car and explore Wyoming by foot, wheel, hoof or paddle. Try these activities for some fall fun in Wyoming. And don’t forget your camera.
Miles of mountain bike trails weave throughout 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.
Between Baggs and Encampment is Aspen Alley, a mile-long aisle of towering aspens that mesh together as they reach toward the sky, 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.
Hear the clomping of your horse as he shuffles through the dried leaves and take a deep breath 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.
4. Aerial Tram
Ride the famous 100-passenger Jackson Hole Aerial Tram from Teton Village to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain and get 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 also might catch a glimpse of bears, moose, eagles or deer.
Photo: Kelsey Bang
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 trails and an arched footbridge that crosses the Bear River. The park is home to a small herd of bison and elk, kept for public viewing. Grasslands surround the colorful aspens, blue spruce, lodgepole pine and cottonwood trees that grow along the river.
Turn up the intensity a notch on Medicine Bow Trail is a popular trail in the southeast, 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 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.
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 of the foliage, you might spot some antelope, deer and turkeys.
8. Hot Air Balloon
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. During your early morning balloon ride, you’ll see the vibrant colors of fall trees bathed in the pastel shades of a Wyoming sunrise.
For true adrenaline junkies, soaring through the air on a tandem paragliding ride can be the thrill of a lifetime. If you’re able to open your eyes long enough to take in your surroundings, you’ll see the changing colors of the forested Tetons whizzing by below.
10. Wagon Train on the Oregon Trail
On the Oregon Trail near Casper, visitors today 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.
11. View Wildlife
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 a number of guide services available in the Jackson and Yellowstone areas for the best chance to see some of Wyoming’s most famed wildlife.
12. Fly Fish
Fall (the month of October specifically) is one of the prime seasons 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 colors of the season.