Big Wyoming. The Cowboy State. The Equality State. How many states have 3 nicknames? Whether you stay in Cody or Jackson Hole or visit Wyoming's parks or forests, you will be a fan of this highly under-rated destination.
Let's start off on the right foot. My best friend in high school moved to the Midwest from Wyoming. She described Big Wyoming as flat, barren, and full of horses. I had no reason to disbelieve her. My first experience in the cowboy state seemed to confirm that assumption.
Boy, was I wrong!
I had traveled through Cheyenne. Stayed for almost a week in Dubois - which I loved. And traveled the agonizing road between the 2. It was only after I visited the northern half of this incredible state for a week in Cody, that I realized how incredible the Equality State is.
Now time to have some fun with this. First - what state has 3 nicknames? Stick with me, this is a little important in demonstrating Wyoming's diversity.
The Cowboy State. Did you know there are an estimated 6000 wild mustangs roaming free in Wyoming? With that number, it shouldn't be a surprise there are over 70 active dude ranches in the state. If you decide to include a dude ranch experience in your Wyoming travels, it is a guarantee you will enjoy the amazing landscape featured in Wyoming. Another fun fact. The term "dude ranch" was actually first used in Wyoming. Eaton's Ranch in Wolf, Wyoming was the nation's first dude ranch and still welcomes guests today.
Of course, you can't overlook the state symbol. That's right, the state symbol is a cowboy on a bucking horse. Do you want to go a step further? The state sport is rodeo. Not football, soccer, or baseball. Rodeo. We enjoyed some faux-cowboy time on our last visit to Wyoming, but I'm afraid I am nowhere near "rodeo" status yet. Regardless, a dude ranch experience is likely to be part of our next Cowboy State visit.
The Equality State.
Wyoming was the first state in the US to grant women the right to vote. On September 6, 1870, a Wyoming woman became the first woman in the world to cast a ballot and vote. A mere 30 years before the rest of the US. think that is pretty cool, but to add to the coolness factor, the right to vote was granted while Wyoming was still a territory.
This one is my favorite. The nickname Big Wyoming is given to honor the rugged beauty of Wyoming. Here, the plains meet mountains. Rivers surge to meet tranquil lakes. And have you seen the sky? Where else in the world can you get this variety of scenery in less than 100,000 square miles?
Of course, being the 10th largest state in the US may have something to do with the Big Wyoming nickname, but I prefer to say it's because of the state's beauty.
Here is more evidence of that incredible beauty.
What do you like to do when you are on vacation? Hang out on the boat and fish? Watch wildlife? Enjoy unbelievable scenery? Get lost in a park or forest? Go hiking over the plains or through heavily forested mountains? Enjoy scenic drives. Maybe you want to hang out for a week at a dude ranch or spend a couple of days learning about Buffalo Bill Cody. Or excavate dinosaur fossils?
In under 100,000 square miles, you can do all that, and so much more. Wyoming has almost everything to offer that a visitor could ever want.
Out of all the great activities Wyoming has to offer, we have thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and wildlife, camping in the national forest, scenic drives, and learning about Buffalo Bill Cody. Of all that, nothing beats Wyoming's parks.
Seriously. The scenery is amazing. If mountains and forests feel claustrophobic, head to the plains. If you prefer fewer crowds, take a scenic drive. The geologic activity that formed this tiny speck of land on this earth was nothing short of miraculous.
You wouldn't believe our wildlife adventures in Wyoming. On our first Wyoming experience, we saw pronghorn everywhere. I thought we had an overpopulation of deer in the Midwest, but that was nothing compared to Wyoming's pronghorn population. As we traveled through Wyoming's parks and forests though, I realized there is a reason buffalo is the state mammal.
Here are a few of our favorite wildlife photos, including herds of buffalo in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley.
And a few more photos. There is a reason I included wildlife viewing as an activity in Wyoming. You can see how close we were able to approach several wild critters, generally from the relative safety of our car as you can see in the buffalo photo below.
Seriously. I could have provided hundreds of wildlife photos from our 3 visits to Big Wyoming. Between the elusive great gray owl and swans in Yellowstone, to sandhill crane and elk in Grand Tetons, wildlife opportunities are seemingly endless in Wyoming.
We have had the pleasure of being able to camp at several areas around Wyoming, including Devils Tower, Cody, in the Shoshone National Forest, and Rock Springs. In selecting our campsites, we explored a lot of the state, often selecting a campground because of its beauty and special qualities.
Camping at Eagle Creek Campground in the Shoshone National Forest was not only our favorite, but both Papa Joe and my hearts also yearn to return. It was that amazing of an experience.
Wyoming's forests and parks are just part of this amazing state's charm.
I know mine has forever been changed. I don't think of Wyoming as barren anymore. Now, I think of the Equality State as home to national forests. Wyoming parks are difficult to beat. How many states are home to 2 national parks and a widely recognized national monument Devils Tower? I think you know that answer.
There is a reason Wyoming tourism is a big deal. The list of things to do in the Cowboy State seems endless. There are few other destinations in the world where visitors flock to behold natural wonders. Yellowstone itself receives over 4 million visitors a year... And that's just one of Wyoming's parks.
Whatever your reason to travel. Wherever in the US, you want to visit. Wyoming - whether you call it the Equality State, Cowboy State, or Big Wyoming, has something for you!