Wyoming’s byways are pristine alleyways through the state’s fall landscape, when deciduous beauties dressed in shades of yellow, gold and red flourish among crisp autumn air and cooler temperatures. Looking for some incredible fall drives in Wyoming? Below is a list of a few scenic byways to view the state’s best autumn foliage.
1. Beartooth Scenic Highway
Length: 68 miles
Wind through Custer, Shoshone and Gallatin National Forests for breathtaking views of the morphing aspens in late September. Beartooth Scenic Highway is Wyoming’s highest paved road. The byway starts in Montana and runs into the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Motorists can access the route in Wyoming via the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.
Be sure to stop in Powell to explore several historical museums, including Heart Mountain Relocation Center, which tells the difficult story of the area’s Japanese American internment camp during WWII. Then enjoy the quieter side of Yellowstone National Park as you explore the park’s many natural wonders among a smaller autumn crowd.
2. Cloud Peak Skyway
Length: 47 miles
Gain views of the Bighorn Mountains framed by yellow- and gold-hued aspens on the Cloud Peak Skyway, the southern-most route across the Bighorn National Forest. Access the byway at Ten Sleep from the west or Buffalo from the east.
Along your journey, stop and marvel at Buffalo’s Historic Occidental Hotel, enjoy a drink and stunning views of the Bighorns at Ten Sleep Brewing Company and learn about the Big Horn Basin’s paleontology and archaeology at the Washakie Museum & Cultural Center in Worland.
3. Black Hills Scenic Byway
Length: 78 miles
A mix of evergreen and deciduous trees in the Black Hills National Forest facilitate a dark green landscape splashed with pockets of bright color. The byway rests at the western gateway to the sprawling Black Hills, a small mountain range that extends from western South Dakota to Wyoming. Rolling native grass prairies and opportunities to encounter roaming wildlife also contribute to the brilliant drive.
Take a break from the road and hike Serenity Trail, a 3-mile loop off of Hwy-85 near Newcastle.
4. Flaming Gorge – Green River Basin Scenic Byway
Length: 100 miles
From tree-studded mountain peaks to high desert and open-shrub vegetation, Flaming Gorge – Green River Basin Scenic Byway provides an excellent sampling of autumn’s colorful affect on Wyoming’s diverse landscapes. Jump on the route just west of Rock Springs and keep your eye out for herds of mule deer, pronghorn and wild horses.
Be sure to stop for a hike or views of the gorge in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Drive into the town of Rock Springs to check out their main street and stop for a beer at Bitter Creek Brewing.
5. Red Gulch/Alkali Scenic Backway
Length: 32 miles
Encounter an area rich in geologic history and beauty on this road less traveled running through a mostly unpaved section of the Big Horn Basin. The route includes Red Gulch Road, where you can see the red hills of the 230-million-year-old Chugwater Formation, the 13,000-foot Bighorn Mountains and country inhabited by Paleo-Indian mammoth hunters 12,000 years ago — all framed by fiery-colored prairie in the fall.
Make plans to stretch your legs at Shell Falls near Shell, Wyoming, where just a short walk brings you to a 120-foot waterfall. While the Shell Falls Interpretive Center and Museum closes in mid-September, the waterfall can be accessed year-round. On the other side of Bighorn National Forest, stop at Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site near Hyattville to see over 10,000 years of history through petroglyphs and Native American artifacts.
6. Star Valley Scenic Byway
Length: 80 miles
Snow-capped mountain peaks and reflective lakes facilitate supreme fall-foliage viewing in Star Valley. Climb Salt River Canyon and Salt River Pass and complete your journey at the summit of Snake River Canyon to see Mother Nature’s glowing fall display from 7,610 feet.
Be sure to stop in Afton to see the world’s largest elkhorn arch. Then head to the nearby Period Springs for a hike featuring one of only three springs in the world with a flow that starts and stops on a predictable intervals.
See a complete list of scenic byways and backways in Wyoming.