Wide open spaces layered with Alpine lakes, lush valleys and breathtaking mountain ranges. A land where raptors soar above, sheep scale mountains and wild horses run free. Home to the first national park in the world, the third largest canyon in the US and cowboys — lots and lots of cowboys. But most notably: a place to just be. With a population of 585 000 (a quarter of my hometown of Toronto), I found myself truly lost in its natural landscapes…
I’m talking about Wyoming. A state I recently had the fortune of exploring. My trip was a once-in-a-lifetime journey and one I’ll never forget. One week wasn’t nearly enough, but the locals I travelled with made sure we hit up many of the state’s gems. Here are some of the highlights of our epic 7-day road trip itinerary through Wyoming…
From Toronto To Sheridan – To get myself to Wyoming, I took a short 3 hr 45 min flight from Toronto to Denver and then hopped on Denver Air to Sheridan (which I’m convinced has the cutest airport in the US).
A Night At The Sheridan Inn – One of the Historic Hotels of America, this beaut property is fashioned after hunting lodges in Scotland. I love staying at places that have a story and the Sheridan Inn definitely has one: first opened in 1893, it was once home to Buffalo Bill Cody! Auditions for his Wild West show were even held out on the front lawn…
The rooms at the Inn focus on him and twenty-one other key characters from his life. I stayed in the Esquivel Brothers room which had the dreamiest bathroom…
Breakfast At Java Moon – We kicked off our day on the front patio with coffee in hand. The historic building (circa 1906) is nestled in the heart of Main St. Sheridan and was a fab place to grab a bite before heading off on our road trip.
The Drive From Sheridan To Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area – We made a quick stop on the Bighorns Scenic Byway (which blew me away with its breathtaking Aspen trees) and then drove about 2 hours before reaching the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area. Many photo opps and karaoke sessions were had. ‘Twas a road trip after all…
A Boat Tour Of Bighorn Canyon With Hidden Treasures – Wow, wow, wow. I was soooo taken aback by the jaw-dropping canyon (the third largest in the US and a place I’d personally never heard of). To see it from above was a treat, but a scenic boat tour with Hidden Treasures is a must. The husband and wife duo who operate the business are super knowledgeable and will share many stories and interesting facts on your 2 hour, 16 mile ride. You’ll probably be hungry for lunch when you arrive so grab a bite at the Horseshoe Bend Marina before hopping on the tour or eat in nearby Lovell at the Switchback Grill. Whatever you do, do NOT miss this canyon on your road trip — it is a true gem. An area I could spend days exploring.
A Night At High Country Lodge – From the canyon we drove along a scenic route (14A) to a peaceful lodge in the Bighorn Mountains. Many guests stayed in the private log cabins, but our group had rooms in the main lodge (which I highly recommend since the dining room, fireplace and hot tub were all conveniently located right outside our doors). There’s something magical about this rustic lodge in the woods…
Breakfast At High Country Lodge – Cocooned by mountains, we woke up to a foot of snow in the morning and sipped on warm coffee by the fireplace as we watched the resident moose have his breakfast just metres away. I’d love to go back and snowmobile around the area, but this time around we hiked up to the Medicine Wheel instead. A sacred place for Native Americans, I really felt a connection to the land and enjoyed the few minutes of solitude (definitely needed on road trips)…
The Drive To Cody – We couldn’t visit the cowboy state without checking out the rodeo capital of the world (yup, Cody has a rodeo every night in the summer from June 1-August 31!) Our drive from High Country Lodge took about 1 hr 45 min which was the perfect amount of time to thaw from our frosty morning in the mountains and get ready for some fun in an authentic western town. Yeehaw!
Cody Firearms Experience – If shooting a gun is on your bucket list, this is where you’ll want to head. The Cody Firearms Experience is a state-of-the-art gun range with a huge selection of guns — everything from the 1865 Gatling Gun to an M-16 and Thompson sub-machine gun. I personally didn’t shoot any (never will), but my group had a lot of fun. I don’t think they ever wanted to leave!
Lunch At The Local – Ah food, yes, this was more my jam. I loved everything about this resto. Great atmosphere (the photos lining the wall were stunning), friendly service and locally-sourced, organic produce and meats. They have a seasonally-driven menu with some interesting dishes. I tried an Elk Kebab for the very first time and loved it!
Buffalo Bill Center Of The West – Five, world-class museums dedicated to telling the story of the American West. That is what you can expect from this affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. We spent a good chunk of the afternoon exploring the vast center, but truth be told, you could spend days taking it all in. I particularly enjoyed the Native American exhibits.
Dinner At Cassie’s Supper Club – What better way to cap off the night than dinner at a whorehouse. Yup, you read that right. Ok, well, maybe it doesn’t currently operate as one, but still! Cassie’s has been serving customers one way or another since 1922. In its most recent years the draw has been their steak. And damn it’s good. Beaut cuts charbroiled to perfection. Go hungry. Stay for the live music and good times.
A Night At Buffalo Bill Village – We spent the night at the cutest little cabins in Cody. They were cozy, clean and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay before hitting up Yellowstone the following day.
Breakfast At Irma Restaurant & Grill – These guys are known for their breakfast buffet so head here to fuel up. You’ll also want to snap a photo of the famous cherrywood bar (a gift from Queen Victoria) which is one of the most photographed spots in Cody. Oh, and sit on the porch where Buffalo Bill and Irma once sat!
The Drive To Yellowstone National Park – This majestic park has been on my bucket list for many years so to say I was excited for this leg of our journey is an understatement. The drive from Cody lead us straight to the Lamar Valley where we began our Historic Yellow Bus Tour of the park guided by a local (click here to see all of her insider tips).
Lunch At The Mammoth Hotel Dining Room – This restaurant is gorgeous with its floor-to-ceiling windows and beautiful views of the park (you may even spot bison, elk or wolves while you dine here). They source local and organic ingredients and have quite a range of healthy options on the menu. I eyed the Montana Ranch Beef Burger, but opted for the Bison Burger which was amaze.
A Wander Around The Mammoth Hot Springs – Divided into two terraces, the Upper and Lower, there are approximately 50 hot springs within the area. I suggest hopping on the boardwalk and taking the 1.75 mile hike since they’re so different than the other thermal features in the park.
A Visit To Artist’s Point – This was one of my favourite spots in the park. There’s a reason they call it Artist’s Point — every angle of the Grand Canyon at Yellowstone looks like a painting…
Dinner And Stay At Canyon Lodge – Located on the east side of the park near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Canyon is the largest sustainable lodging in all of the national parks (they have more than 500 rooms!) We walked over to M66 Grill as soon as we arrived and had a great feast before bed. I was a big fan of the Waffle Fries and the Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Ravioli.
Breakfast At Falls Café And Drive To The Old Faithful Inn – We had a quick grab-and-go breaky at Canyon very early in the morning and headed straight to the Old Faithful Inn. I loved loved LOVED the Inn. Built in 1903 using local logs and stone, it’s considered the largest log structure in the world. The lobby is pure magic — I felt like a little kid looking up at the treehouse-like creation that towered above me.
A Visit To Old Faithful – The geyser basin surrounding the Inn is out of this world. Everywhere I looked there were pockets of thermal activity. While many are unpredictable, I quickly understood why Old Faithful got its name: it erupts quite regularly so you’re very likely to see some action during your visit like we did.
Lunch At Old Faithful Inn – The charming dining room at the Inn is a really convenient place to grab lunch as you wander from geyser to geyser. A couple of my travel buddies went straight for the Western Buffet, but I ordered the Montana Ranch Beef Burger. Yum!
An Afternoon At The Grand Prismatic Spring – This jaw-dropping site is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the entire world. With colours so vivid and a beauty that’s difficult to describe, it is a must-see wonder in the park. And no, you can’t swim in it! I got asked this a lot on social media — geothermal waters can get as hot as 250 degrees Fahrenheit so this is a spot you’ll want to admire from a safe distance. Tip: if you want to avoid the crowds go early in the morning.
Dinner And Stay At Lake Hotel – If there’s one place I’d return back to time and time again in Yellowstone, it would be this lodge. Perched on Yellowstone Lake, it truly captivated my heart. I’m a nostalgic gal obsessed with classic details and elegant spaces and this hotel has it in spades. I was immediately transported to a different century — one where Colonial Revival architecture thrived — as we pulled up in front of the massive white columns at the front entrance. The hotel has character, the sunsets and sunrises over the lake are spectacular and the restaurant serves up the best food in the park (order the Bison Tenderloin With Lobster Tail and you won’t be disappointed). Oh and there are no TVs, radios or internet in the rooms so prepare to unplug!
Breakfast At Lake Hotel – There is a fantastic buffet breakfast offered at the hotel, but I decided to grab a quick breaky at the Lake Hotel Deli and enjoyed it outside while watching the sun rise. I was really impressed by the quality of sandwiches and their huckleberry latte was actually perfect.
Drive To Grand Teton National Park (1 hr 30 min) – Whenever I visit a place for the first time, I like to reach out to locals (both virtually and IRL) to see where their favourite spots are. Grand Teton was on almost everyone’s list when I surveyed people before heading to Wyoming. I now understand why. Wow, just WOW…
Kayak Jackson Lake – The first thing we did in Grand Teton National Park was hop in some kayaks for a little adventure on Jackson Lake. Best. Idea. Ever. I truly appreciated the scale of the mountain range as we paddled towards it from Colter Bay Village Marina.
Lunch At Jackson Lake Lodge – You know those places you walk into with no expectations that blow you away? This was one such place. Having never heard of or seen photos of this lodge, I was awestruck when we stepped inside. Think: 60 ft floor-to-ceiling windows with this magnificent view…
Our lunch was served in the Mural Room. I had to peel my eyes away from the magnificent view to focus on ordering my meal (a rare experience for a glutton), but as soon as our dishes arrived my priorities were clear once again. The highlight? The Mural Room Salad — yup, salad. Simple ingredients done right: spring greens, sliced strawberries, crumbled feta, red onion drizzled with a Wyoming old-fashioned vinaigrette.
Views Of Teton From Horseback – I’m told no visit to Wyoming is complete without a horseback ride through Grand Teton National Park so I highly recommend exploring the beautiful meadows and lakes via the 1 or 2 hour ride offered from the lodge.
A Night At Jackson Lake Lodge – Founded by John D. Rockefeller, this eco-hotel is a hub in Grand Teton National park. I already mentioned how in love I am with the lobby (certainly one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen), but their stunning suites in the main lodge and cottage rooms are a draw as well. It’s a full-service resort so all the amenities you’d expect are offered — from fine dining and retail shops to a swimming pool and playground.
Breakfast At Jackson Lake Lodge – Kick off the day in the Mural Room while devouring all of the hot and savoury dishes at the breakfast buffet (their Belgian waffles with a moose imprint are a hit). And before leaving the lodge to continue the last leg of the road trip, make sure to grab a coffee and take in the Teton views just one more time from the patio. Trust me, you won’t regret it…
Drive To Jackson With A Stop At Mormon Row – The drive from Jackson Lake Lodge to Jackson takes approx. 50 minutes, but we extended our road trip by adding in a stop at Mormon Row. Formerly known as the town of Grovont, it was settled by Mormons in the late 1890s who built 27 homesteads close together. It’s a beautiful photo opp with the Tetons as a backdrop. Many travel to photograph the John Moulton Barn, but this building caught my eye…
Lunch At Four Seasons Jackson Hole – You guys know how much I love the Four Seasons (yeay for an amazing Canadian hospitality chain!), so a visit to their Jackson Hole property was a must. I’ve never seen an FS quite like this one before — mountain lodging at its finest. I highly recommend grabbing lunch on the patio at The Handle Bar…
They specialize in modern pub grub and have a solid whisky menu. But the Jackson Mule was calling my name so I ordered that instead — made with vodka, huckleberry and ginger beer it was AMAZE. Food highlights? The Lettuce Wraps (Braised Pork Belly Rice, Perilla Leaf, Spicy Pickled Radish Salad), Smoked Salmon Toast (Avocado, Caperberries, Breakfast Radish, Onion Picked Herbs) and the Thai Sausage (Pickled Onion, Fried Peanuts, Nuoc Cham Sauce).
An Afternoon At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – This is an obvious reco: the main reason most people visit Jackson is to enjoy the mountain resort. While skiing/snowboarding is a big draw, it’s a beautiful area to explore during any season. Our road trip was in the fall so we took the Aerial Tram up the mountain. GORGEOUS. I highly recommend doing this for the epic views.
Dinner At The White Buffalo Club – Steak. Need I say more? Ok how about if I add: butchered in house, seasoned with Himalayan salt, cooked to perfection and drizzled with their house-cultured butter? I topped mine with wild mushrooms and a béarnaise sauce — and a side of the tastiest Brussels Sprouts I’ve had in a long, long time. Nestled on the lower level of the White Buffalo Club, the resto is an intimate, sophisticated dining room that has a relaxed vibe. Make sure to eat here when in Jackson and kick your meal off with a Dr. Ruth Barb cocktail (Big Horn Bourbon Whiskey, Rhubarb Shrub, Rhubarb Bitters, Luxardo Liqueor and lemon). Cheers!
Stay At The Rustic Inn – For our final night we stayed at the beautiful Rustic Inn. What a way to cap off our adventure — these guys have somehow managed to combine rustic and glam (with fine details like spacious rooms featuring vaulted ceilings and lush curtains that lead to the bathrooms, a gorgeous wine cellar and a luxe spa). If you’re visiting Jackson, I highly recommend staying in a private cabin at this boutique hotel. It is unique and memorable.
How’s that for an epic road trip itinerary? I know, it’s a lot of ground to cover but the truth is: we just skimmed the surface of the incredible state. It truly surprised me. Before I went, I didn’t really have the answer to the question “why Wyoming?” — now I do… there’s something liberating about having endless space to explore. I felt free there. Connected, yet untamed.
A huge thanks to Wyoming Tourism and their partners for hosting us. As always, reviews and opinions are my own. I truly hope you visit the cowboy state and find this road trip itinerary through Wyoming helpful!