Families from around the globe have made a point to travel from the Black Hills to Yellowstone National Park on epic summer adventures. For those making this journey with children, taking it slowly and knowing kid-friendly places to stop along this classic road trip adds to the joy of the adventure in Wyoming’s Black to Yellow region.
TOTAL MILES: 244 between Devil’s Tower and Shell Falls
SUGGESTED TIME: 4 days
Day 1: Devils Tower to Keyhole State Park
After visiting the Black Hills, make your first stop at the nation’s first national monument. Devils Tower is a towering rock formation that erupts out of the surrounding landscape, and it is a sacred site for the region’s Native Americans who still hold traditional ceremonies there. Kids can learn more about the history of Devils Tower and earn a Junior Ranger badge—stop for information about the badge at the visitor center.
Next, make your way to Keyhole State Park, where families can enjoy fishing, hiking, canoeing and bird watching. Make reservations early to sleep in this state park’s treehouse, which overlooks Keyhole Reservoir.
Day 2: Eagle Butte Coal Mine and Durham Bison Ranch
Wyoming is famous for its coal mining industry, and families can take a tour of a surface coal mine on Day 2. Gillette is home to the Eagle Butte Coal Mine that is open for tours on weekdays during the summer. Schedule your tour through the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau also offers tours of the Durham Bison Ranch, which is another kid-friendly road trip stop where more than 3,000 bison make their home. Make sure to also pick up a map for a self-guided wildlife tour of the area.
Day 3: Buffalo to Sheridan
Head out for Buffalo on Day 3 and stop at the Mountain Meadow Wool Mill for a tour. The mill turns wool into yarn, and much of the wool they use is from Wyoming sheep. Visitors can pick up something knitted on-site for a souvenir. Enjoy lunch in Buffalo’s beautiful downtown area before heading north to Lake DeSmet—home of a legendary sea monster named “Smetty.” If that sounds too scary, don’t mention the mythical creature and just enjoy the lake that is surrounded by a fascinating red stone beach.
Finish your day in Sheridan with a visit to King’s Saddlery, an impressive western tack store that also houses the Don King Museum—home to hundreds of beautiful Western saddles and other cowboy memorabilia.
The historic Sheridan Inn, once operated by Buffalo Bill Cody, was built in 1893 and is famous for its expansive front porch where Cody once auditioned acts for his Wild West Show. Families can stay at the inn which is listed on the National Historic Register.
Day 4: Polo and the Bighorn Mountains
Sheridan may be a small western town, but it is big on polo—going back to the 1890s. Throughout the summer months, visitors can bring a picnic and lawn chairs and enjoy watching matches beneath the soaring Bighorn Mountains. Bonus? This kid-friendly road trip activity is free to the public.
And speaking of the mountains, the Bighorns offer outdoor recreation just right for families. Beautiful streams, waterfalls and mountain meadows await. Head through Dayton and get on the Bighorn Scenic Byway that takes you to Shell Falls, a spectacular 120-foot waterfall. The Forest Service maintains a visitor center and an interpretive trail to the falls. (Open during the summer only.)
Finish your road trip between in the Black to Yellow Region by heading to Cody and then on to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone.