July 13, 2019
Yellowstone National Park is a bucket-list destination you can’t miss. But, like so many destinations around the world, it can get crowded. When you’ve had enough of the crowds but nearly your fill of wildlife, geological wonders, Wyoming culture, and wide-open spaces, it’s time to Go Beyond Yellowstone to Wyoming’s Wind River Country.
Take highway 287 to highway 28 for an authentic, scenic route home.
Togwotee Pass, Wyoming’s Centennial Scenic Byway
From the southeast entrance of Yellowstone are just a handful of absolutely stunning miles until you reach Wind River Country. The uncrowded drive over Togwotee Pass is nonstop mountain vistas, wildlife viewing opportunities, and day-hike trailheads. Cross the Continental Divide on Wyoming’s Centennial Scenic Byway on your way to Dubois, your first stop in Wind River Country.
National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, Dubois
Whiskey Mountain outside of Dubois is home to the largest wintering herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in the lower 48. This center is dedicated to these remarkable creatures and their local habitat. If you visit in the fall (also a great idea for a less crowded Yellowstone experience), staff will take you on a wildlife tours to spot the herd in person.
Torrey Creek Falls, Dubois
Spend some time getting to know the tight community of Dubois before continuing southeast on Hwy. 287.
Approximately four miles east of Dubois, take a drive on National Forest Road 411 past Torrey, Ring, and Trail Lakes. All the lakes have fishing, camping, and picnicking, and you’ll get the chance to check out ancient Native American petroglyphs and maybe a herd of bighorn sheep on the way. From the Trail Lake Trailhead, you’ll can hike to the waterfall of Torrey Creek.
Crowheart Butte Scenic Overlook, Crowheart
Many variations of the story have been told over the generations, but it is generally agreed that a battle between the Shoshone tribe under Chief Washakie and the Crow tribe took place at this landmark in 1866. The tribes fought a long battle until the chiefs agreed to a duel to determine the outcome. The victory went to the Shoshone and affirmed their hunting grounds. Crowheart Butte was so named in memory of that event.
From Crowheart, you’ll stay on highway 287 to Lander. Be sure to stop in Fort Washakie to check out local art. You can also take a detour to learn about Sacajawea and see her final resting place.
Sinks Canyon State Park, Lander
Learn about Sinks Canyon at the visitors center, then go explore this geological wonder on your own. Take a self-guided walk to check out the cave into which the Popo Agie River disappears and the pool in which it reemerges a half mile down the stunning canyon. Bring a quarter so you can buy some food to feed the enormous fish in the Rise pool.
Explore the unique town of Lander a bit before continuing on Highway 287/28 south to your next stop.
South Pass City State Historic Site
South Pass City, now a State Historic Site, was home to the an early gold rush. This city has 40 preserved original structures from those days. America’s first female to hold judicial office served here: Justice of the Peace Esther Hobart Morris. The Wyoming Territorial Representative who drafted the bill giving women in the Wyoming Territory the right to vote resided in South Pass City, as well.
After your final stop in Wyoming’s Wind River Country, enjoy all that Wyoming has to offer on the rest of your drive home.