7 Ways to Beat the Crowds in North-Central Wyoming
Get away from it all with a naturally socially distanced road trip across Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountain Country. Start your adventure traveling safely from the Bighorn Mountains’ wide-open spaces down to Ten Sleep and then on to Worland, pausing along the way for fun in the ever-uncrowded Equality State. Here’s how to make the most of north-central Wyoming’s room to roam.
1. Meadowlark Lake in Bighorn National Forest
Begin your trek through Wyoming’s vast solitude with a stop at glacial-blue Meadowlark Lake. You’ll love the Bighorn National Forest’s expansive alpine scenery and bloom-speckled meadows. And with all this wild, open country, you’ll enjoy self-guided activities — like picnics, camping, backpacking, stand-up paddleboarding and ATVing — that promote staying 6 feet apart. Fishers will also be pleased with the lake’s plentiful population of brown and rainbow trout, walleye, yellow perch and more. If you do plan to fish, be sure you have a state-issued fishing license.
2. U.S. Highway 16
Next, motorcycle (or drive) down winding U.S. Highway 16, otherwise known as The Sweet 16. You’ll love this free-wheeling, off-the-beaten-path stretch of road along the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway and Bighorn National Forest. Stop as often as you like for all the unspoiled mountain scenery as you meander past Buffalo and down to Ten Sleep through the stately Ten Sleep Canyon. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, too — you just might see a moose!
3. Cloud Peak Wilderness Area near West Ten Sleep
Backpack or hike through this expansive wilderness for views of the area’s namesake Cloud Peak (clocking in at 13,167 feet in elevation), cooler temps, glittering high-alpine lakes, rushing streams and even more wildflower-carpeted meadows. This remote backcountry region also boasts hundreds of miles of trails and — of course — lots of boundless peace and quiet. Visitors must follow all of Cloud Peak Wilderness Area’s special regulations, including filling out a registration form and practicing leave-no-trace principles.
4. Ten Sleep Canyon near Ten Sleep
Carved by millions of years of wind and water, Ten Sleep Canyon’s cliffs tower over the landscape in otherworldly shapes. Here you can rock climb at one of Wyoming’s premier (and massive) limestone climbing areas; or partake in another outdoorsy activity, like caving, hiking and mountain biking. Want to stay the night? You can retire to dispersed camping and sites at Leigh Creek Campground, or stay at Ten Sleep Rock Ranch, Ten Sleep RV Park or Comfort Inn in Worland.
5. Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery near Ten Sleep
Stop to see where more than 2 million fish — including rainbow, brook, cutthroat, splake and tiger trout — hatch annually just 9 miles east of Ten Sleep. Operated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery is open seven days a week to visitors and tours can be scheduled ahead of time.
6. Ten Sleep Brewing Co. in Ten Sleep
Head into Ten Sleep, a small town of about 300 residents, for flavorful craft brews made in hues of amber, chocolate and toffee. The Ten Sleep Brewing Co. tasting room, housed in a historic barn, features outdoor seating, delicious food-truck snacks and rambunctious live music. Just remember — stay at least a bison’s length away from fellow sippers and wear your cloth masks as directed. Purchase a growler and fill it with your favorite flavor, whether it be Pack Saddle Porter or Outlaw Amber, to be enjoyed later at your secluded campsite.
7. Washakie Museum and Cultural Center in Worland
Now open with safety in mind, the Washakie Museum and Cultural Center features ancient and Western history that’s fun for the whole family. You’ll learn about diverse paleontological discoveries made in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin, like dinosaur and plant fossils along with artifacts left by ancient humans (mammoth bones and rock art, for instance). The museum’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, held annually in October, is another fun (and free) way to celebrate Western history. The full day of socially distanced activities include Native American speakers and performers, food trucks and craft vendors. When you’re done, dine and stay overnight in charming Worland, where you’ll appreciate its small-town feel and access to recreation in and around the rugged Bighorn Mountains.
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.