Despite its geographic size, Wyoming is the least populated state in the US. Which means that most, if not all, of its towns could be considered small. This makes it the perfect escape. Leave the crowds behind and take in America’s heartland.
With the Rocky Mountains on its western side and the unbelievable High Plains to the east, Wyoming is a gorgeous place. Part of Yellowstone national park is there, as well as Devils Tower National Monument, and Grand Teton. It’s the perfect place to re-connect with nature and the grand American wilderness.
Lets have a look at the best small towns to visit in Wyoming:
In the centre of Wyoming, on the upper plains of the Rockies is Lander. The incredibly lucky population of 8000 has America’s most spectacular mountain range as their backyard.
Visiting Lander means visiting local breweries, jam sessions at a local pub, and every outdoor adventure you could want. It’s most popular time of year is during the three-day International Climber’s Festival.
Drawing climbers from all over the globe, the town offers free camping and plenty of fun. Don’t forget to visit one of the many dude ranches, they year-round Pioneer Days Rodeo (the world’s oldest paid rodeo), and the state fair – held each winter! Sinks Canyon State Park is also nearby.
At the south end of Jackson Hole is the town of Jackson. It has a western flair, but still manages to be contemporary. Shopping, great dining, and lots of entertainment.
Any town with an arch make entirely out of elk antlers is bound to be entertaining. This is the best gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and can be a great base camp. Check out the mountain formations that the locals call the Sleeping Indian, as well as the National Elk Refuge.
One of the town’s most interesting features are the wood plank sidewalks – which locals have been strolling down for over 100 years. One of the not-to-be-missed attractions is the aerial tram. Bring your camera.
Buffalo is most famous as the location of an old western mystery drama called Longmire. But there is so much more to experience here. Right in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Buffalo has a lot of history.
There’s the 130+ year old Occidental Hotel. Both Teddy Roosevelt and Butch Cassidy once stayed there. You can also visit the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, first opened in 1900.
All of downtown is well preserved and a real delight to ramble through. Outside of town, head to the mountains for skiing, boating, photography, and more. If you’re lucky, catch the three day Americana festival which highlights bluegrass music and even has a fiddle contest.
William Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, was a legend in his own time. He had a hand in planning the town of Cody, Wyoming. It was said he took a lot of pride in the place and made sure there were plenty of museums – like the Buffalo Bill Historical Centre – to help locals remember their past.
Today it’s considered the rodeo capital of the world. Combine that with awe-inspiring landscape, easy access to Yellowstone National Park, and the origin of the Beartooth Highway, and Cody would be high on anyone’s ‘must see’ list. With a population around 10,000, it’s easily considered one of the most beautiful places in the state. Try to catch the Wyoming Outdoors annual banquet, Mule Days, and the Plains Indian Museum Powwow.
Dubois is one of the smaller towns on this list. Just around 1000 folks call it home and its remoteness in the northwest part of the state lends it tons of charm. Surrounded by the Rockies, the Wind River Mountains, and the Absarokas, it’s a genuine Western town where modern day cowboys walk the streets.
Sometimes called ‘Never Sweat’ thanks to the climate, you’ll find so much big sky and beauty that you’ll never want to leave. American Cowboy Magazine once voted Dubois one of the best rural towns. Enjoy ranch activities, hiking, and the Centennial Scenic Byway – which stretches through the badlands and into the high peaks.
Year-round recreation can be found in the tiny town of Centennial. At the bottom of the Snowy Range Mountains, the 300 some locals are big on hospitality. In the late 19th century, gold was discovered on Centennial Mountain. After just two years, the main vain disappeared into a fault line and was never picked up again.
Though prospectors are still looking for it today! Visitors enjoy Thunder Basin National Grassland and Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Together they cover almost three million acres extending all the way in to Colorado.
One of the more cosmopolitan towns in Wyoming is Gillette. Known as the Energy Capital of the nation thanks to the large supply of natural resources there, it’s also sometimes referred to as the manliest city in the state. Rodeo, hunting, and fishing are popular pass times, as are hockey and motor cross.
Gillette is close enough to be a home base for trips to Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower. Be sure to visit the Eagle Butte Coal Mine, the Rockpile Museum, and the Gillette Brewing Company.
Sundance is an energetic town. Named for the sun dances that American Indians held each year in this area, the town has a lot of history and couples that with a progressive atmosphere. Located in the Black Hills, the town embraces and celebrates its American Indian heritage.
You can visit the Vore Buffalo Jump to learn more about the unique way of life for the Plain Indians. Fishermen love this town thanks to incredible spots like Keyhole Reservoir and Sand Creek. If you want more outdoors, try hiking horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and four-wheeling. This is one of the best combinations of small town charm with big city thinking.
Wyoming’s ‘Jewel’ is Sheridan. With a dramatic mountain backdrop, its won numerous awards including American Hunter’s top 10 mountain towns, a top western town, and one of the best towns by Outside Magazine. People come from across the state for Sheridan’s Bighorn Country USA annual festival and rodeo.
Downtown has several spots listed on the National Register of Historic Places and allows you to get a real sense of old west Wyoming. With the Bighorn Mountains next door visitors can camp, boat, bike, or grab a camera and spend days photographing Sheridan’s amazing beauty. Be sure to check out the many ancient geological formations and ceremonial sites nearby.
10. Ten Sleep
Another great town near the Bighorn Mountains is Ten Sleep. It’s a cattle and sheep ranching town. If you walk down main street, you’ll find Ten Sleep Mercantile. Still open to this day and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once an area of many battles between European settlers and American Indians, Ten Sleep is much more of a, well, sleepy town these days. You’ll find cattle ranchers, mountain climbers, and hippies in town.
Named after the American Indian way of measuring distance, the area was ‘ten sleeps’ between two Sioux Indian camps. It makes a great stop on the way to Yellowstone, but don’t go too fast. Be sure to visit Ten Sleep Canyon. It rises into the mountains just outside of town and is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the country.
Story is the place to come if you’re looking to slow your pace. Almost every spot in town is perfect for sitting back, relaxing, and taking in the fantastic view. Around 900 people call Story home many of them eclectic! It rose in popularity when residents of the ‘big city’ of Sheridan wanted to get away from it all.
There are plenty of cabins designed for the weekend traveller. There’s really only two seasons there: summer and winter. The two most popular tourist attractions are Fort Phil Kearny and the Wagon Box battleground – now a National Historic Landmark.
One of the planets largest mineral hot springs is in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Soak and take in the scenery while your mind and body relax in the springs. It’s located inside Hot Springs State Park. Visiting the springs is free, and has been since the late 19th century, thanks to a treaty signed between the US government and American Indian tribes.
Families love the Dinosaur Centre and wonderful traditional handicrafts markets. Nearby are Wind River and Bighorn Canyons.
This is a rugged town with 360 degrees of scenery. Pinedale is, at first glance, the kind of place you might rush through on your way to Jackson Hole or the Wind River Mountains. But you’ll regret it if you don’t stop at this traditional ranch town. It’s the perfect place to take children because there is an abundance of educational and historical attractions.
You’ll enjoy the feeling of going back in time. The many parks and wilderness areas have plenty of wildlife and birding to view. White Pine Ski Area is one of the most popular ski destinations in the state and helps Pinedale earn its reputation as Wyoming’s winter destination spot. Don’t miss the Pronghorn Wildlife Corridor or the Museum of the Mountain Man.
If you’re looking for friendly, look no further than Powell. Once voted an All-American City.
Located between the Absaroka Range and the Bighorn Mountains, this town is known for great weather and playing crucial roles in many frontier stories.
It’s an agricultural town that blends old fashioned values with forward thinking.
15. Rock Springs
Three hours from Salt Lake City, Utah, is Rock Springs. It’s got everything an outdoor enthusiast is looking for. Named a top 10 water city by Livability.com, Rock Springs has the Green River and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to play in! Once a coal mining town, the energy market is booming there. It manages to live in harmony with the old fashioned Big Show Rodeo that most Wyomingite’s love.
Butch Cassidy once worked in Rock Springs as a butcher – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the history that this town has. Locals like to say that they are the city of 56 nationalities. So many immigrants during the coal mining days have created a unique and rich culture that’s definitely worth checking out.