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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Wyoming

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Introduction

Landscape of Yellowstone

Landscape of Yellowstone

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Wyoming is one of the largest states in the United States but has a very low population density. The main attractions of Wyoming is its low population density, which makes for large open spaces and wilderness that few people will ever experience. With over 48% of the state owned by the federal government and an additional 6% owned by state government makes for large areas of the state open for public access. The majority of the public land is administrated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service.

Several different Native American groups lived in the Wyoming area such as the Crow, Arapaho, Lakota and Shoshone. John Colter was the first person to explore in the region and he arrived in 1807. Later on the Oregon Trail cut into Wyoming and in 1868 the Union Pacific Railroad went into the state. One of Wyoming's claim to fame is being the first USA territory to give women the right to vote in 1869 and the first state to elected a women governor in 1924.

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Geography

Old Faithful, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

Old Faithful, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

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As specified in the designating legislation for the Territory of Wyoming, Wyoming's borders are lines of latitude, 41°N and 45°N, and longitude, 104°3'W and 111°3'W (27° W and 34° W of the Washington Meridian), making the shape of the state a latitude-longitude quadrangle. Wyoming is one of only three states (along with Colorado and Utah) to have borders along only straight latitudinal and longitudinal lines, rather than being defined by natural landmarks. Wyoming is one of the states where the Great Plains collide with the Rocky Mountains. Surface elevations range from the summit of Gannett Peak in the Wind River Mountain Range, at 4,207 metres, to the Belle Fourche River valley in the state’s northeast corner, at 953 metres. In the northwest are the Absaroka, Owl Creek, Gros Ventre, Wind River and the Teton ranges. In the north central are the Big Horn Mountains; in the northeast, the Black Hills; and in the southern region the Laramie, Snowy and Sierra Madre ranges. The Continental Divide spans north-south across the central portion of the state. Rivers east of the divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. They are the North Platte, Wind, Big Horn and the Yellowstone rivers. The Snake River in northwest Wyoming eventually drains into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, as does the Green River through the Colorado River Basin. The continental divide forks in the south central part of the state in an area known as the Great Divide Basin where the waters that flow or precipitate into this area remain there and cannot flow to any ocean. Instead, because of the overall aridity of Wyoming, water in the Great Divide Basin simply sinks into the soil or evaporates. There is also some very intense volcanic activity in the state, especially in the Yellowstone National Park area. All this wilderness makes the state extremely pretty.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Devils Tower

Devils Tower is an laccolithic butte composed of igneous rock in the Bear Lodge Mountains (part of the Black Hills) near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeastern Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River. It rises dramatically 386 metres above the Belle Fourche River, standing 265 metres from summit to base. The summit is 1,559 metres above sea level. Devils Tower was the first declared United States National Monument, established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Monument's boundary encloses an area of 545 ha). In recent years, about 1% of the Monument's 400,000 annual visitors climbed Devils Tower, mostly using traditional climbing techniques.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Mountain range

Grand Teton Mountain range

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Grand Teton National Park is located in the northwest of Wyoming, south of worldfamous Yellowstone National Park, its big neighbour. The park was established much later though compared to Yellowstone, only in 1929. Although Grand Teton can be visit as a daytrip from Yellowstone if you are short on time, spending a week alone is possible as well, especially if you go on one of the beautiful backcountry hikes.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous natural parks in the world. With over 2 million visitors each year and covering more then 8,983 square kilometres (3,468 square miles) this wilderness area is amazing. The park is mainly in the state of Wyoming (96%), although parts cross into Montana (3%) and Idaho (1%).

Male Elk, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

Male Elk, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

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The park has a diversity of land formations such as lakes, canyons, mountains and rivers. There are also countless animal and plant species within the park including several endangered species like grizzlies, wolves and bison. Other animals include black bears, elk, beavers, squirrels and numerous species of birds and birds of prey. What draws most people to the park is more then its stunning beauty and animals. The park is the center of amazing geothermal activity. Over half the world's geothermal features are located within Yellowstone and are still fueled by massive volcanic powers. Some of these geysers, or small volcanoes, have become very popular. If looking for an intense back country experience or just driving the parks roads in a RV there is something for any group of travelers in Yellowstone National Park.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Fossil Butte National Monument
  • Wind River Range
  • Black Hills
  • N.O.L.S. (National Outdoor Leadership School) - This wilderness school leads people of all ages in back country exhibitions in the Wind River Range that last from 4 to 12 weeks in length. There excellent instructors teach there students all the necessary skills to live and thrive in the wilderness. The exhibitions take students deep in the back country that few people ever see. The Wyoming chapter is located in Lander. There are other NOLS headquarters in Alaska and Arizona

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

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Weather

Wyoming's climate is generally semi-arid and continental, and is drier and windier in comparison to most of the United States with greater temperature extremes. Much of this is due to the topography of the state. Summers in Wyoming are warm with July high temperatures averaging between 29 °C and 35 °C in most of the state. With increasing elevation, however, this average drops rapidly with locations above 2,700 metres averaging around 21 °C. Summer nights throughout the state are characterized by a rapid cooldown with even the hottest locations averaging in the 10-16 °C range at night. In most of the state, most of the precipitation tends to fall in the late spring and early summer. Winters are cold, but are variable with periods of sometimes extreme cold interspersed between generally mild periods, with Chinook winds providing unusually warm temperatures in some locations. Wyoming is a dry state with much of the land receiving less than 250 mm of rainfall per year. Precipitation depends on elevation with lower areas in the Big Horn Basin averaging 130-200 mm (making the area nearly a true desert). The lower areas in the North and on the eastern plains typically average around 250-300 mm, making the climate there semi-arid. Some mountain areas do receive a good amount of precipitation, 500 mm or more, much of it as snow, sometimes 5 metres or more annually. The states highest recorded temperature is 46 °C at Basin on July 12, 1900 and the lowest recorded temperature is -54 °C at Riverside on February 9, 1933. The number of thunderstorm days vary across the state with the southeastern plains of the state having the most days of thunderstorm activity. Thunderstorm activity in the state is highest during the late spring and early summer. The southeastern corner of the state is the most vulnerable part of the state to tornado activity. Moving away from that point and westwards, the incidence of tornadoes drops dramatically with the west part of the state showing little vulnerability. Tornadoes, where they occur, tend to be small and brief, unlike some of those that occur a little further east.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are several noteworthy options to get to Wyoming by plane:

By Train

Wyoming is one of only a few states of the USA that is not connected to Amtrak's train system.

By Car

I-80 cuts across the southern part of state east to west. I-90 cuts across the northern in part of the state east to west to about the mid point were it joins with I-25. I-25 cuts north to south roughly in the middle of the state.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

By Plane

Air travel between points within Wyoming will likely require a change of plane in Salt Lake City or Denver. Fares are prohibitively expensive for leisure travelers - a two-week advanced purchase airfare from Casper to Jackson Hole cost more just over $1,000.00 as of May 2012, involved an eight hour trip and a change of planes in Salt Lake City. The same trip takes no more than five hours by car in good weather. In practical terms, driving is the only real way to get around the state, with air travel an alternative only when weather won't allow travel by car.

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Wyoming has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

By Bus

Also check Greyhound for options.

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Eat

Wyoming is known for its steakhouses, which often offer elk, bison and other local game on their menus. While you're not likely to see many chain restaurants outside of the state's larger cities, most towns have several quaint, locally owned restaurants, and asking a friendly local is the best way to find them. Jackson boasts the widest range of dining choices, including everything from sushi to Thai food to fresh seafood.

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Drink

A saloon dubbed the "Cowboy Bar" is nearly ubiquitous in every Wyoming town. Most of these are friendly establishments where jeans and cowboy boots are the outfit of choice, and fancy cocktails are not often on the menu. However, several larger cities, including Cheyenne and Jackson, offer more nightlife opportunities, such as wine and martini bars, live music venues and brew pubs. There are several craft breweries and even a winery in Wyoming as well.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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Contributors

as well as Lavafalls (14%), Peter (2%)

Wyoming Travel Helpers

This is version 32. Last edited at 14:47 on Jan 6, 17 by Utrecht. 32 articles link to this page.

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