Tips on Planning the Perfect Wyoming Group Vacation
Because the state of Wyoming is so vast – it is the ninth largest in land mass but least populated of the 50 states – when planning a group trip to Wyoming be sure to factor in the distance between attractions, keeping in mind that many close their doors in the colder months. One way to tour the northwestern region of the state, which includes its famous national parks, is to follow the Continental Divide Loop. Start at Jackson, a town with a decidedly western flavor with wooden boardwalks, trendy shops, and the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, with saddles for bar seats and real silver dollars imbedded in the counter tops.
For a birds eye view of Jackson, take the aerial tram from Teton Village to the summit of Rendezvous Peak. Your group might even spot a moose or two munching on willows in mountain meadows as the tram glides to the top on its 12-minute run.
For a different look at wildlife, visit the impressive National Museum of Wildlife Art on the outskirts of town. Its galleries contain works of art by more than 100 wildlife artists. Catch a bite to eat at the on-site Rising Sun Cafe which overlooks the National Elk Refuge where thousands of elk can be observed during fall and winter as they migrate from their summer feeding grounds in the Teton Range. Winter visitors can take a sleigh ride through the refuge to view them up close.
Jackson is the gateway to Grand Teton National Park, where your group can take a scenic drive or boat cruise on Jackson Lake, visit an Indian Arts Museum, or enjoy lunch at the Jackson Lake Lodge with its panoramic views of the water and the Grand Teton range. Take a self-guided walk through Menors Ferry Historic District near the park visitor’s center in Moose to learn about the hardscrabble life of an early homesteader.
Yellowstone National Park, created in 1872, was the worlds first national park. It has the largest collection of geysers and hot mineral springs in the world. These can be viewed on a driving tour through the 2.2 million-acre park, which also has large roaming populations of bison, elk, and other wildlife. Do not miss Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Exit the park through the east entrance to travel to Cody on the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway, one of the countrys most scenic motor routes. The town, founded by Col. Cody in 1896, is billed as the Rodeo Capital of the World because it hosts a rodeo every night from June 1 to August 31.
For an orientation, take a Cody Trolley tour, which combines a fascinating look at the city historical past with its presentday attractions. Hosts Mike and Margie Johnson spin tales of the Wild West as the trolley travels past the Buffalo Bill Dam, the worlds first concrete arch dam; the Historic District; and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. The latter is a five-in-one museum complex with separate museums focusing on western art, Plains Indians, Cody firearms, natural history, and Buffalo Bill memorabilia. Allow at least three hours to see it all.
Another popular stop for groups is Historic Trail Town, which has more than 20 authentic mid- to late 19th century buildings and exhibits, as well as its own boot hill with the graves of such infamous residents as Jeremiah “Liver Eating” Johnson. In summer witness a gunfight re-enactment in front of the historic Irma Hotel in downtown Cody.
Why not experience the Old West by attending a rodeo or Native American powwow? Tour a restored fort, mining camp, or one of the many historical museums to learn about frontier living and such colorful characters as Col. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody or mountain man Jim Bridger. Or enjoy a chuck wagon supper and musical entertainment on a working cattle ranch. In addition, Wyoming is a great place to observe wildlife, dig for dinosaur bones, and become an expert on geology.