A Long Weekend in Converse County
With cloudless skies, hospitable citizens and ample opportunity to see wildlife playing, Converse County is full of naturally socially distanced fun. Located in eastern Wyoming, less than half an hour from Casper, it’s home to the Jackalope City of Douglas and the community of Glenrock. Outdoor enthusiasts will rejoice for fishing, hiking and golfing excursions while history buffs and foodies will delight in the frontier museums and thriving restaurant scene. Read on for an epic three-day weekend in the grassy hills of the Cowboy State.
Begin your journey by getting lunch to-go from Grasslands Market — a sloped-roof building right off I-25 that dishes up everything from fried ravioli to a chicken-and-waffle sandwich — you read that correctly, it’s crispy fried chicken between two Belgian waffles!
Take your lunch to Thunder Basin National Grassland, where the lush prairies will have you singing “Home on the Range” in your head. Spot sky-high buttes and adorable deer as you make your way to an alfresco dining spot. If you want to stay in town, go for a roam on Douglas’s pathway system along the North Platte River. Once you find a shelter, enjoy the abundant bird-watching opportunities.
Insider Tip: Ayres Natural Bridge Park is open seasonally (mid-April–mid-October) and considered one of Wyoming’s first tourist attractions. One of just three naturally occurring bridges in the U.S. with water underneath, it is a must-visit for a photo under the massive geologic formation and maybe even a wade.
Venture to Camp Douglas, a former internment camp for prisoners of war during World War II. With a high-beamed ceiling and massive murals painted by Italian prisoners of war (they mirror works of famous artists of the time like Charles Russell), the Officers’ Hall is the last building standing. Explore the exhibits that detail an oft-forgotten time in American history.
Your blood sugar might be dipping after learning all that information, so hit up Kodi Rae’s Coffee Shop & Bakery for an afternoon pick-me-up doughnut — chocolate iced with vibrant sprinkles is a classic.
Get back into that fresh, Wyoming air with a fishing pole on the North Platte River, near downtown Douglas. Try your hand at catching some rainbow trout — these spotted fish have a pink line across the middle and make for good eatin’.
Insider Tip: Get a fishing license ($6 for residents, $14 for nonresidents) before casting your line. They can be purchased at Douglas Hardware Hank or Loaf ‘N Jug.
Grab a diner-style cheeseburger and Philly cheesesteak fries from Deanna’s Waterhole and feast on them under a shady tree at the quaint Bartling Park. Kiddos will love the skate park and horseshoe pits. If fido is along, check out the new dog park as well.
Before turning in for the night at one of the 14 lodgings in town, pop by Jackalope Square to snap a picture with the huge jackalope statue — it’s adorableness makes it downright perfect for the ’gram.
Get up early for takeaway sweet pastries and creamy lattes from Blend Coffee & Co. Eat ’em on the ride to the 18-hole golf course where you’ll swing your clubs to vistas of the Laramie Mountain range. If you’ve got the tikes in tow, pick up bright white bikes (via an app) from Jackalope City Bicycle Rentals and cruise downtown Douglas’s charming streets.
Next up is the Wyoming Pioneer Museum, situated on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds. Find the original jackalope and the story of Sir Barton — America’s first Triple Crown winner. He’s the horse in case you’re wondering…
Snatch up a picnic table at Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant for lunch. Definitely have the crunchy-on-the-outside, succulent-on-the-inside homemade egg rolls.
Stroll off your midday meal on the grounds of Fort Fetterman. The interpretive trail describes tales of the site that was a major base for U.S. troops when warring with Native American tribes. A restored officers’ quarters and ordnance warehouse are a time capsule into Wyoming’s past.
Take a long, winding drive out to the Lost Springs community park to watch incredibly long trains making their way down the triple tracks. It’s a site you can’t see just anywhere and shows the area’s inspiring industrial spirit. With only a post office and antique store, Lost Springs is the smallest incorporated town in the Equality State.
Finish your stop-off in Douglas at a Keith Rider Park shelter with a pizza party from Friendz Pizzeria. Then drive half an hour to Glenrock for a stay at The Hotel Higgins. All of the historical rooms are full of Old West charm — think dark woods, stag heads and intricately tiled floors.
Your final day dawns with an eastern Wyoming sunrise, an order placed to Rock Bottom Cafe for breakfast-to-go (have the Cowboy Breakfast with eggs, sunflower bread, chorizo and hash browns) and an eight-minute jaunt east to Glenrock Town Park, set on idyllic Deer Creek.
Pick up the signature portobello fries (lightly breaded with crumbs and served with a spicy ranch dressing) and a wedge salad (fresh lettuce, flavorful blue cheese crumbles, bacon bits and baby tomatoes) at the Paisley Shawl — located in The Hotel Higgins — and head to the square behind the building where a few shady picnic tables reside.
End your trip with a stopover in Esterbrook. The log church, built in the 1940s, has Laramie Peak as its backdrop and is quite popular with photographers.
For tips on traveling mindfully and responsibly through Wyoming’s big, open spaces, visit WY Responsibly. Just remember: Leave natural spaces cleaner than you found them, keep a safe distance from wildlife and respect the health and safety of everyone you encounter by social distancing and wearing a mask.