Raising kids can be expensive, but taking them on a family vacation doesn’t have to be. Family trips are a wonderful way to build memories to last a lifetime, but not everyone wants to still be paying the trip off when the kids leave for college. Luckily, Wyoming offers many affordable family vacation options. The state’s wide-open spaces let kids use their outside voices—and lets parents keep money in their wallet.
1. Dinosaur adventure
If words like Parasaurolophus and Pachycephalosaurus pepper your kid’s dinner conversation, a Wyoming dinosaur-filled adventure is a very budget-friendly way to spend a family vacation. Many towns offer free paleontology museums, including the University of Wyoming Geological Museum and the Tate Geological Museum at Casper College. Families can dig for fossils with the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis or walk in dinosaur footprints at the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite. Fossil Buttes National Monument near Kemmerer is an ancient lakebed where kids are sure to spot an aquatic fossil or two.
2. The family that camps together stays together
Disconnecting from screen time and reconnecting to each other on a family camping trip is an economical way to see Wyoming. Whether you spend a nominal fee and sleep in an established campsite in one of many state parks or disperse camp for free in one of the national forests, sleeping under the stars doesn’t break the bank. Wyoming really shines when it comes to cheap or free vacation activities that come natural to the outdoors, like fishing, hiking or wildlife watching.
3. The Daddy on a baby budget
The Cowboy State is famous for its rodeos, and visitors from around the globe head to Cheyenne to enjoy Cheyenne Frontier Days—the Daddy of ‘em All. While tickets to the rodeo or nighttime concerts may take most of a family’s vacation budget, there are many free events to enjoy as well. Rodeo fans can watch times events slack—or qualifying rounds before the rodeo—free of charge. See horses by the hundreds in one of the four free Grand Parades, enjoy free pancakes at one of three pancake breakfasts and turn your eyes skyward for the free U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds show. The Indian Village and Old Frontier Town are free, as is the Behind the Chutes Tour that gets visitors up close to the rodeo stock. Rodeos across the state offer affordable family vacation opportunities jam-packed with cowboy action.
4. Family-friendly ski trips
Many families might assume a ski vacation is out of reach, but Wyoming offers several family-friendly and affordable ski resorts. Places like Hogodon Basin near Casper, Snowy Range Ski Area near Laramie and Meadowlark Ski Lodge near Ten Sleep are known for having cheaper lift tickets than some of the West’s glitzier ski towns—some less than $50 a day. They also offer smaller crowds, less traffic and more affordable lodging nearby.
5. Sleep in a treehouse, a yurt or a sheep wagon
Sometimes accommodations can eat a large portion of a vacation budget, but Wyoming has several unusual lodging options that are surprisingly affordable and sure to generate priceless memories. Imagine what your kids would tell their friends after spending a night in a sheep herder’s wagon. Keyhole State Park has a treehouse families can rent and Sinks Canyon State Park offers yurts. The state is dotted with cabins and forest service lookout towers that also make memorable places to stay.