Wind River Country is a destination rich in natural and cultural wonders. Explore the region this fall and discover no shortage of Room to Roam. Escape the hustle and bustle of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and experience firsthand the history, heritage and natural, abundant beauty that makes Wind River Country so special.
Visit one of the last cowboy towns in the West — a rustic and remote sanctuary for nature lovers and frontier fans alike. Located just over an hour from the major national parks, Dubois is the perfect place to catch your breath and escape the crowds.
Begin your Wind River trip with some outdoor exploration. The Overlook Trail, which starts at the Dubois Recreation Area Scenic Overlook, is the definition of a mountain biker’s daydream. This 3.2-mile trail offers over 600 feet of downhill shreds and is the perfect place to get out and stretch your legs in the pristine fall weather.
Once you’ve spent some time behind bars (handlebars that is), follow Highway 26 to the National Bighorn Sheep Center. Home to the Whiskey Mountain herd, Dubois boasts one of the largest wintering populations of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the world. Take a guided tour and learn about the center’s conservation efforts through full-scale dioramas, interactive exhibits and film.
From there, head out to explore iconic Downtown Dubois. Grab a downhome delicious meal at the Cowboy Cafe — famous for their homemade pies, chicken fried steak and spicy elk sausage. Later, refuel for your next adventure with a warm cup of joe from The Perch Coffee House.
As you disembark from Dubois, be sure to pay a visit to the National Museum of Military Vehicles. With nearly 475 fully restored military vehicles, artillery pieces, naval vessels and aircraft from 1897 and on, the museum is a must-visit.
Make picture-perfect memories in Lander and the Lander Valley. Known for its abundance of natural beauty and recreational opportunities, this small community is heralded as a sportsperson’s paradise. Situated along the eastern foothills of the mighty Wind River Range, there’s no shortage of stunning wilderness. As the seasons change, and fall settles across the Valley, take advantage of the cooling temperatures to explore more.
For those in search of world-class rocks to scale, climbing the white dolomite cliffs of Wild Iris won’t disappoint. Located at Limestone Mountain, this sports climbing area offers plenty of intermediate to advanced routes ranging from 5.9 to 5.14 in difficulty.
After a day of play at Wild Iris, head north to Sinks Canyon State Park. Here, the mighty Popo Agie River cascades from the nearby Wind River Mountains and vanishes into a massive underground limestone cave dubbed “The Sinks” — ¼ of a mile down the road, the water reappears at a trout-filled pool called “The Rise.” It takes over two hours for the river water to appear here. No one knows why it takes so long. Explore the numerous activities this expansive state park has to offer, including a three-mile round trip trail to the falls, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, swimming and more.
In Downtown Lander, visitors can rest and replenish after their backcountry adventures. For a filling breakfast or a delicious lunch, The Middle Fork will surely satisfy. This local favorite is known for its huevos rancheros, eggs benedict and a daily selection of quiche. Or, “squeeze” the day, and head on over to The Rise Juice Bar and Eatery, where patrons can choose from a vast selection of hand-pressed juices and wholesome meals in preparation for their next journey.
Before leaving town, check out the Fremont County Pioneer Museum or the Museum of the American West to learn more about the history of Fremont County and the state of Wyoming. Explore exhibits highlighting Native American culture, colonial settlement, mining, military history and regional ranching.
Head to Riverton for a hearty helping of history and culture. The town of Riverton long served as a natural gathering point for Indigenous peoples, and later, settlers.
Stray off the beaten path and start your exploration at the Castle Gardens Petroglyph Site. Here, visitors can pay homage to some of the original inhabitants of Wind River Country. Located approximately an hour outside of Riverton, Castle Gardens is considered one of the best-preserved prehistoric rock art sites in the West. The petroglyphs, which are thousands of years old, are represented in what’s known as the “Shield Style” and depict images of shields and warriors holding shields. Learn about the petroglyphs through interpretive signs, and enjoy a fall picnic at the onsite facilities afterward.
Next, learn about the past, present and future of the Northern Arapaho tribe in the Northern Arapaho Experience Culture Room at the Wind River Hotel and Casino. Here, visitors can check out exhibits that highlight the art and artifacts of the Tribe, as well as schedule language lessons and storytelling sessions with Tribe elders. In the summer months, guests can also experience live dance exhibitions. Similarly, The Fremont County Riverton Museum offers visitors the chance to explore artifacts, archival materials and photographs of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho peoples. In addition to learning about Native American culture, the museum also offers exhibits on industry, agriculture and the history of Westward Expansion as it pertains to Western Wyoming.
From there, make your way over to the Wind River Heritage Center to learn more about Wyoming’s wildlife and contemporary western history. With over 27 life-size exhibits to experience, this historical wax museum offers a telling and comprehensive glimpse into the life and times of 18-and-1900s Wyoming.
Finally, your Riverton visit isn’t complete without sampling some of the local restaurant scene. The food scene here is mighty. At The Depot Restaurant, savor some of the state’s best Mexican food, and afterward, satiate your sweet tooth at Sweet Surprises Gourmet Cupcakes.
The quaint town of Shoshoni stands at the threshold of the scenic Wind River Canyon. Here, visitors have front row access to the natural and geological wonders that make this region so unique. With fall serving as the ideal season to drop a line, the Shoshoni watershed attracts anglers annually.
In addition to Wind River Canyon, Boysen State Park is the perfect place to boat, raft or fish with the family. Break away from the crowds and embrace the idyllic Wyoming weather, with a day spent out on the water. For those with a penchant for dramatic scenery, world-class fishing and fall foliage, Boysen is the place to be.
With over 2.2 million acres of land spanning across Western Wyoming, the Wind River Indian Reservation is the seventh-largest reservation in the country. Learn all about the two tribes that inhabit the land—the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho—at local museums and historical sites. Check out TravelStorys free, self-guided mobile audio tour of the Wind River Indian Reservation, which shares the stories, history and culture of the region — as told by the students of Fort Washakie High School in support of the Fremont County School District.
From there, start at Fort Washakie, a former military outpost located 20 minutes north of Lander. Here, visitors can tour the Fort Washakie Cemetery and visit the headstone of the last chief of the Shoshone Tribe, Chief Washakie.
After visiting the cemetery, pay homage at Sacajawea’s gravesite. Known for her invaluable contribution to the Lewis and Clark expedition, Sacajawea was a revered Shoshone interpreter and guide. To learn more about the history and culture of the Eastern Shoshone, visit the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center, where visitors can tour exhibits of tribal art, historical photographs and ancient artifacts.
From there, head over to the St. Stephen’s Mission to explore a 1900s Catholic church. Tour the grounds, and after, visit the St. Stephens Art Center, where you can purchase modern Northern Arapaho beadwork and art.
Finally, pay a visit to the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary for a chance to see real wild mustangs, take a group tour of a working Native American cattle ranch and go horseback riding through the Wyoming backcountry. With miles upon miles of room to roam, there’s no better place or way to experience fall in Wyoming.