Written by 6:30 pm Hot Spots, Travel

Northwest Wyoming Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks

Northwest Wyoming

Wide-open landscapes and clear blue skies exemplify Northwestern Wyoming, home of such natural wonders as Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. This land of towering mountains, broad meadows, and sparkling streams is also where you’ll find Jackson Hole, the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Wind River Canyon, and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Take a trip through the land of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Shoshone people, a place where horseback riding is a natural way to travel, where the adventures are large and the sky is even larger.

You can design your trip as a loop that leads through Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Riverton, Shoshoni, and north to Cody (this is an ideal trip if you’re traveling south from Glacier National Park or Bozeman, Montana). Start your journey at Yellowstone, the gem of the national park system. If you’ve never been to Yellowstone before, you’ll want to allow several days to truly experience this park. Not only is the park large, at over 2,200,000 acres, but it also contains a wide variety of ecosystems, attractions, and wildlife. Yellowstone is the best place to watch for grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. You can see Old Faithful — or one of the other 300 geysers in the park — erupt or hike through the trails near Canyon Village. Yellowstone Lake is popular for fishing and boating, and youíll find miles of backcountry trails for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and admiring this spectacular natural area.

Immediately south of Yellowstone National Park, via Highway 287 and 191, is Grand Teton National Park, home of Jackson Lake and the dramatic, jagged Teton mountain range. The Snake River winds through this park, creating fabulous spots for boating and river rafting. During the summer months, this is a fabulous place to enjoy hiking the mountain peaks, fishing for cutthroat trout in Jackson Lake, or admiring the wildflowers in an alpine meadow. You can go rock climbing, boating, swimming, and mountain biking, or take pictures of the breathtaking scenery. In the winter, many people enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Wildlife viewing is popular in the Tetons, and for good reason. At Oxbow Bend you can look for river otters, ospreys, bald eagles, and muskrats. Timbered Island, near Jenny Lake, is home to pronghorn antelope and elk. You can see bison and moose along the Snake River at the Jackson Lake Dam, and coyotes, harriers, kestrels, and squirrels on Mormon Row and Antelope Flats Road.

South of the Teton Range is Jackson Hole, a ski town that features powdery snow and working ranches. This makes a terrific side trip, especially if you’re interested in downhill skiing, fine dining, or a stroll through a ski town’s shops and cafes. Set at 6,237 feet, Jackson Hole is home to the annual Grand Teton Music Festival and the Mountain Festival, a musical extravaganza that’s held in early September. You can ride the Bridger Gondola up to 9,000 feet, admiring the stunning views of the mountain slopes below. Extreme sports enthusiasts won’t want to miss a trip to the Mountain Sports School at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, where you can tackle the climbing wall and bungee trampoline or go fishing, mountain biking, paragliding, and hiking on interpretive trails.

Both Jackson Hole and the ski resort community of Teton Village offer superb international restaurants, gift shops, and sports shops. You’ll find sushi joints, local favorites like the Mangy Moose or Nick Wilson’s Cowboy Cafe, and fine dining at the Cascade Grill House. Teton Village has a number of spas, massage centers, and fitness facilities. In the winter, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a hot spot for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, tubing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing.

To reach Riverton and Shoshoni, the next destinations on the tour, head east from Grand Teton National Park on Highway 287/26. Both towns are in the heart of Wind River Country, set in the shadow of the majestic Wind River Mountains. Wind River is the homeland and burial place of Sacajawea, the woman who guided Lewis and Clark through the Inter-mountain West. You can take a horseback riding expedition through the hills, go panning for gold, or fish for brook, rainbow, brown, lake, golden and cutthroat trout, walleye, northern pike, catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, perch, and freshwater ling cod. The area boasts over 600 lakes and reservoirs and more than 2,000 miles of rivers and streams. You’ll find miles of hiking trails, craggy peaks for rock climbing, red desert landscape, and scenic sand dunes.

From Shoshoni, head north on Highway 20 to Highway 120, driving northwest to Cody. The premier attraction of Cody is the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, a five-complex center that includes the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Draper Museum of Natural History, and the Buffalo Bill Museum, dedicated to the life and times of Buffalo Bill Cody. You can also visit the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center, Old Trail Town, and Tecumseh’s Old West Miniature Village and Museum. And be sure not to miss a ride through town on the Cody Trolley or a visit to the Cody Nite Rodeo & the July 4th Cody Stampede, held between June through August each year.

Campgrounds near Yellowstone and Jackson Hole:

Rustic Wagon RV Campground & Cabins
West Yellowstone MT
Madison Arm Resort Campground & Marina
West Yellowstone MT
Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park
West Yellowstone MT
Yellowstone Holiday RV Campground & Marina
West Yellowstone MT
Gros Ventre Wilderness Area
Jackson WY
Bridger-Teton National Forests
Jackson WY
Teton Village KOA
Teton Village WY

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