If you haven’t spent a lot of time in Colorado’s quieter yet still outdoorsy cousin to the north, make sure you don’t miss out. Wyoming might be the least populated state in the US, but that just means there are more undiscovered and hidden gems. Sure, the Cowboy State attracts Coloradans to Jackson Hole for the phenomenal skiing and scenery and Yellowstone National Park for obvious reasons, but this state also has other landmarks and attractions that are worth the visit. We’ve highlighted our favorite Wyoming wonders that are all within a six and a half-hour drive from Denver. So plan a day trip and visit one, or an adventurous road trip and see them all. You won’t be disappointed.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Where: Start in Green River, Wyoming and journey south along the Flaming Gorge – Green River Basin Scenic Byway.
Driving Distance From Denver: 5 hours and 18 minutes
The Lowdown: As the largest reservoir in Wyoming, the Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a hot pick for number one on our list. Stunning red sandstone cliffs contrast the blue water, making the gorge look like it’s on fire when the sun hits just right. The Green River in the Gorge is also considered the best fly-fishing spot in America. Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area lies in southwestern Wyoming and northeastern Utah, so we recommend you start your visit in Green River, WY and journey south on a scenic byway to appreciate the gorge at its finest.
Hell’s Half Acre
Where: 40 miles west of Casper, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 4 hours and 40 minutes
The Lowdown: Off the highway west of the small, charming city of Casper, you’ll find Hell’s Half Acre—which is actually over 300 acres. Given a variety of names over the years that have a lot to do with hell, Hades and Satan, this geologic treasure was once used by Native American tribes to kill cattle after driving herds over the ravine and later used by a film crew as the set for an alien bug planet in the movie Starship Troopers. With caves, deep crevices and unusual rock formations, Hell’s Half Acre is a unique roadside attraction you won’t want to miss.
Vedauwoo Climbing Area
Where: Buford, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 2 hours
The Lowdown: Buford is hysterically known to be the smallest town in America with a population of 1, but it also has some serious rock climbing hidden off I-80 at Vedauwoo Climbing Area. These unique rock formations are actually comprised of 1.4 billion-year-old granite—some of the oldest rock in Wyoming. Climb the “Voo” if you’re looking for an adventurous day trip out of the city.
Wind River Reservation
Where: Central Wyoming. Click here for a directory and map.
Driving Distance From Denver: 6 hours and 10 minutes
The Lowdown: As the seventh largest reservation in the United States home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, the Wind River Reservation is over 2.2 million acres—which means you have a lot of ground to cover in central Wyoming. It’s hard to pick and choose specific landmarks to see since all of them are breathtaking, but Wind River includes a wild horse sanctuary, the beautiful red Wind River Canyon, Sacajawea’s gravesite, traditional pow wows and dancing exhibitions and more. It’s definitely a surreal way to spend a weekend.
Castle Gardens Petroglyphs
Where: Riverton, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 5 hours and 45 minutes
The Lowdown: Castle Gardens Petroglyph Site outside Riverton is a monumental testament to how strong the wind can get. Sandstone eroded by the wind over time created turrets and towers that resemble a castle, and Native Americans carved petroglyphs on the rock walls in order to leave their mark. Castle Gardens definitely makes for a cool photo-op and is engaging for all ages, so it’s not surprising it’s on our list.
Killpecker Sand Dunes
Where: North of Rock Springs, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 5 hours and 50 minutes
The Lowdown: Colorado has its own sand dunes too in Great Sand Dunes National Park, but in Wyoming, the Killpecker Sand Dunes actually sing—literally. Known collectively as one of seven “singing” or “booming” sand dunes in the world, the Killpecker Sand Dunes have grains that are rounder, so when movement startles the sand, it slides and produces a squeaking or singing noise that at times can even be booming or roaring. Go listen for yourself, spend time dune boarding and frolicking in the sand, or enjoy nearby geological formations at sunset like Boar’s Tusk. Killpecker is an intrepid lover’s paradise.
Sinks Canyon State Park
Where: 3079 Sinks Canyon Rd., Lander, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 5 hours and 40 minutes
The Lowdown: Sinks Canyon State Park is one of those hidden spots you really shouldn’t miss. Located in central Wyoming, Sinks Canyon State Park is named for the Middle Fork Popo Agie River that disappears into a cavern made of limestone and reemerges in a pool with lots of rainbow trout a quarter mile from the canyon. Weird? Definitely, and you have to see it for yourself.
Hot Springs State Park
Where: 220 Park St., Thermopolis, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 6 hours and 15 minutes
The Lowdown: Thermopolis is Greek for “hot city,” and it’s a perfect name for this small town that’s home to mineral hot springs and colorful geological formations along the Big Horn River. Spring water flows at a constant temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit, but the bathhouse at Hot Springs State Park keeps it a more manageable 104 degrees for a therapeutic soak. This is a great place to visit after a day of driving out of Denver.
Where: Near Hulett and Sundance, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 6 hours and 15 minutes
The Lowdown: Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie fans will love paying a visit to this geological monument in northeastern Wyoming. Rising from the earth at a dramatic 1,267 feet, Devil’s Tower is a rock climber’s playground and a photography lover’s dream. Comprised of ancient lava, Devil’s Tower’s formation is highly debated by geologists, and it’s not hard to see why — this massive monument is quite odd looking.
Ayres Natural Bridge Park
Where: 208 Natural Bridge Rd., Douglas, Wyoming
Driving Distance From Denver: 3 hours and 50 minutes
The Lowdown: As one of Wyoming’s first tourist attractions ever, Ayres Natural Bridge Park was once considered deadly according to Native Americans who believed an evil spirit lived beneath the bridge rock formation, but today it is a quiet place outside of Douglas, Wyoming where you can picnic and relax by LaPrele Creek. This park isn’t far from Denver and makes for a good stop along the way to other sites on our list.
For more information about Wyoming including travel guides, road conditions and more, visit the Travel Wyoming website.
Correction: the article was updated to maintain that Sinks Canyon State Park is not located in the Wind River Reservation.