This itinerary was created by Robin Smathers, a finalist in Travel Wyoming’s 2019 Fly Your WY Road Trip contest. The winner of this contest will receive a trip to Wyoming’s Wind River Country.
Explore some of Wyoming’s most beautiful mountain ranges along this three-day road trip that follows the Rockies to Tetons route, starting near the Snowy Range in southeast Wyoming, winding through the Wind River Range and ending at Grand Teton National Park. Be sure to take in the stunning sights – and fascinating history – along the way.
Day 1: Discovery on the Road to Dubois
Your trip begins in southeast Wyoming, just across the Colorado-Wyoming border. Enter the the Snowy Range, which includes the 12,005 ft. Medicine Bow Peak, through its gateway city of Laramie. Leave early enough to catch the rays of the rising sun stretching over the herds of antelope among the cattle in the scenic valley outside of town. You can continue along I-80, or if you’d like to get closer to the mountains (and have a vehicle that allows for it) take WY-130 W toward the Snowies.
Plan a coffee stop or late breakfast in historic Centennial, home of a Union Pacific railroad depot museum. From here drive west into Medicine Bow-Routte National Forest, stopping off for a hike or scenic vista. Nothing compares to picnicking amid majestic 360° views in the crisp air beneath glaciers at Mirror Lake. Keep a lookout for mule deer, moose, marmots and coyotes as you ease down from the breathtaking elevation into Saratoga, where you will get glimpses of the Overland Trail.
Reconnect with I-80 to US-287 to continue north toward Lander, passing Muddy Gap, Independence Rock and Split Rock, where early Mormons trudged with all their belongings on handcarts toward Salt Lake City. Feeling adventurous? Take a short detour south along WY-28 W to the restored ghost town of South Pass City and the Carissa Gold Mine on the edge of the Oregon Trail. You can take a self-guided or guided tour of the Carissa Gold Mine, which made South Pass City a gold boom town in the late 1860s. There you will also find a monument to Esther Morris, the first woman Justice of the Peace in the United States and a woman often cited in Wyoming’s leadership in the early suffrage movement.
After your detour, continue to Lander with a stop at Sinks Canyon State Park, where the Popo Agie River spectacularly disappears into the mountain then reappears one mile down the road at The Rise. Next, relish dinner at The Oxbow, a Lander family restaurant specializing in a fresh salad bar and a diverse menu of your favorite comfort foods. As you continue northwest to Dubois, pull off the road at Fort Washakie to visit the unique gravesites of Sacajawea – the memorable guide of the Lewis & Clark expedition – and Chief Washakie, famous for his battle at Crowheart Butte, which rises on your right as you near your destination. Approaching Dubois through the vividly red Absaroka Range, the new National Museum of Military Vehicles stands on your left.
Finally, arrive at the Longhorn Ranch Resort, nestled beneath scenic rock formations of the Absarokas, or choose from a variety of Dubois lodging options. After settling into your cozy western-decor room, you might partake in a little evening fishing in the Wind River or, if it’s a Friday summer night, don your cowboy hat & take in the Dubois Rodeo.
Day 2: Dubois Delights
Start your day with coffee and conversation with guests from around the world in the Longhorn Ranch’s breakfast room, and revel in a view few continental breakfasts can boast. You may even see some of the Longhorn’s guided horseback trail rides saddling up. Not staying at the Longhorn? Try Coyote Blue Coffee and Deli for coffee, tea and delicious breakfast fare. Next, start packing your picnic lunch with foods gathered from Dubois’ quaint Super Foods grocery store. Take your four-wheel drive vehicle up to the splendor of Union Pass, crossing the Continental Divide, and keeping your camera ready. You’ll catch your first glimpse of the Tetons in the panoramic view.
Depending on what brings you joy, go fly fishing for native trout at Flat Lake or just relax and take in the view. Remember to glimpse back at the Dinwoody Glacier, one of the largest in Wyoming. After a dusty day of trail riding & fishing, head to the Cowboy Cafe to enjoy the Bubba Burger combo: a juicy burger, fries and their renowned mouthwatering pie a la mode.
Don’t go back to your lodging yet; take a short drive from Dubois to the three-lakes region. Here you can kayak, canoe, fish or walk off some of your fantastic meal as you search for ancient and mysterious petroglyphs carved into boulders in the Whiskey Basin.
Day 3: The Tetons Bid You from Dubois
Just west of Dubois is the Tie Hack Memorial, honoring those who made ties from trees cut and hacked by hand, floating them to the Wind River and then Riverton to be used for the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Don’t forget to sniff the trail of the Astorian fur-trading exploration parties who pursued a new route between the Tetons/Snake River and St. Louis.
Just before the summit of Togwotee Pass, jut off the road toward Falls River Campground & Brooks Lake, enjoying marmot viewing among the rocks leading to Brooks Lake Lodge, known for horseback riding. A short hike leads to the spectacular waterfalls coming out of Brooks Lake. Continue on to Togwotee Pass; from the top you can see three of the largest wilderness areas in the US: the Washakie, the Fitzpatrick and the Bridger-Tetons.
Continue toward Grand Teton National Park and into Jackson, where you can book a thrilling rafting trip on the Snake River and experience bald eagles and moose in their natural habitat as you and your expert guide wind along the scenic river canyon most-often photographed by Teton visitors above. For a gourmet dining experience with postcard worthy views, make reservations for a pre-rafting lunch at Jenny Lake Lodge, featuring unique regional entrees, or complete your three-day trip with their exquisite dinner menu prepared by a master chef.
Your body, mind and spirit are now all filled and renewed by your Wyoming adventure.