A Guide to National Parks in Wyoming

From the iconic Grand Teton mountains to the rich history of Fossil Butte, here are all of the best national parks in Wyoming for your next road trip.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Jun 10, 2022
Of the state’s seven national parks, Grand Teton, Fossil Butte, Fort Laramie, Devil’s Tower, and Bighorn Canyon are the best five national parks in
The West is one of the best places in the country for a road trip: big open skies, towering mountain ranges, and vast swathes of untouched nature bring in millions of visitors per year. Wyoming, in particular, is an attractive—and arguably essential—state to add to your national park
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Grand Teton National Park 

Location: Moose, WY
Hours of operation: 24 hours, year-round (Some roads, campgrounds, and visitor facilities operate on reduced hours or are closed from November through April. Check the park’s
before going) 
Admission price: $35 for a vehicle, $30 for a motorcycle, $20 for a hiker/biker (good for seven days) 

What makes Grand Teton National Park special 

The soaring peaks of the Teton mountains are one of the most recognizable landmarks in Wyoming. You’ll find them, and much more, in
Grand Teton National Park
. Located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park and in the broader Jackson Hole Valley, Grand Teton is easily one of the best national parks in Wyoming: 
  • Nearly 4 million visitors every year travel to Grand Teton to catch a glimpse of some of the park’s famed residents. We’re talking about the grizzly bears, moose, elk, bison, and over 300 species of birds that call the park home. 
  • Mormon Row
    , the iconic homestead with stunning views of the mountain range, is a popular destination for photographers around the globe. You’ve definitely seen this barn if you’ve ever googled “Grand Teton National Park.” 

What to do in Grand Teton National Park 

With about 310,000 acres or 485 square miles, you’ll never run out of things to explore in Grand Teton National Park. 
  • Hiking: Grand Teton has over 250 miles of
    hiking trails
    for hikers of all experience levels to choose from. Bring lots of water, a snack, and some bear spray (just in case). 
  • Boating and swimming: Take a dip in Snake River, Jenny Lake, or Jackson Lake—or cruise around on a
  • Fishing: Cast your line in one of the most beautiful places in the country! Just make sure you’ve got your Wyoming fishing license on hand, and check their
    seasonal closure dates
  • Scenic drives: If you’re unable to explore the park on foot, taking one of their pre-planned
    scenic drives
    is a great workaround for seeing all the park has to offer. Drives range from 15 to 60 minutes, and the roads are all paved and relatively flat. Make sure to slow down for crossing wildlife—but don’t stop in the middle of the road to snap pics. 
  • Horseback riding: Horseback riding has been a tradition in the park since the early fur traders first set up shop in the valley. Stop by
    Headwaters Lodge
    Grand Teton Lodge Company
    , or
    Triangle X Ranch
    to reserve your ride.    

When to visit Grand Teton National Park 

May through September is the most popular visiting times because of their sunny days and cool, clear nights—perfect for stargazing and camping. Temperatures range from the low 60s to high 70s in the daytime and fall to between 30 and 32 degrees at night
There’s never really a bad time to visit Grand Teton National Park, but it all depends on the kinds of activities you’re looking to do. If you don’t mind snow and temperatures between the low 30s and teens, a winter visit might be better suited for you. Crowds tend to thin between November and March, and the park offers different activities like cross-country skiing. 
Pro tip Before booking a tour, no matter the season, look at the park’s
to make sure they are licensed to take visitors into the park. 

Fossil Butte National Monument 

Location: Kemmerer, Wyoming 
Hours of operation: Sunrise to sunset, year-round (
Visitor Center
hours vary based on season)  
Admission price: Free 

What makes Fossil Butte National Monument special 

Colloquially known as “America’s Aquarium in Stone,”
Fossil Butte National Monument
tells the story of billions of years of ancient flora and fauna. 
  • The Virtual Aquarium allows viewers to see what Wyoming’s aquatic life looked like nearly 52 million years ago. 
  • Journey Through Time outdoor exhibit is a scaled-down timeline through the planet’s history, with every nine inches equalling one million years of Earth’s history. 

What to do in Fossil Butte National Monument  

Fossil Butte National Monument is truly a naturalist’s paradise. Whether you’re looking to learn a little bit about the history of the great outdoors, or get out there and explore it, you’ll have a full docket: 
  • Hike
    along one of the park’s two maintained trail loops or venture off the beaten path to one of their three unmaintained trails. 
  • Do a
    Ranger program
    during the summer months. Learn how fossils are prepared for museum displays and harvested in the fossil quarry.   

When to visit Fossil Butte National Monument 

If you choose to visit in the winter, you’ll be limited to just the indoor exhibits at the Visitors Center. During the summer months, the park sees the most favorable weather conditions and the most activities. 
Key takeaway Fossil Butte National Monument is one of the best national parks in Wyoming to visit for those looking for more an educational rather than a physically strenuous park visit. 

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

, Wyoming 
Hours of operation: Dawn to dusk, every day (The Fort Museum and Visitor Center are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day) 
Admission price: Free 

What makes Fort Laramie National Historic Site special 

As its name implies,
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
was first, and foremost, a private fur trading fort. Built in 1834, this fort stood as a testament to American expansion—and encroachment upon Native Lakota lands—until it was abandoned in 1890.
  • Fort Laramie, formerly known as Fort William, controlled nearly all of the United States’ buffalo fur trade until a rival fort opened a mile away in 1841. 
  • In 1849, the fort was purchased by the United States government to help establish a military presence on the trails heading west.  

What to do at Fort Laramie National Historic Site 

History buffs, this park is especially for you. Depending on how much you want to do and see, you can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to a full day at Fort Laramie. 
  • Take the Fort Laramie audio tour, available for download at the Visitors Center. The tour reenacts the sounds of the fort in its heyday and features excerpts from letters and diary entries from those who passed through. 
  • Walk the
    Confluence Trail
    , a 1.6-mile loop that brings you to everything you need to see in the park.  
  • Head to the Visitors Center to watch an 18-minute introductory film. And, on your way out, pick up a book at their award-winning bookstore to bring home with you. 

When to visit Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Fort Laramie has some bitterly cold, windy winters with temperatures plummeting to below zero. Early spring and summer are some of the rainiest months, so a visit is best left for late summer and autumn.  

Devils Tower National Monument 

Location: Devils Tower, Wyoming 
Hours of operation: 24 hours, year-round (except with some
holiday closures
Admission price: $25 for a vehicle pass and $20 for a motorcycle pass (good for seven days)

What makes Devils Tower National Park special 

Rising 867 feet up from the prairie fields surrounding the Black Hills is
Devil's Tower
. This magnificent peak, made of igneous rock, has been a source of fascination for viewers for thousands of years. 
  • Devil’s Tower’s designation as a national monument predates the formation of the National Park Service, making it the oldest national monument in the country. 
  • The butte has been a fixture in Native Lakota and Kiowa folklore and is considered sacred
  • The 1977 hit sci-fi alien movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, heavily featured Devil’s Tower as a pivotal plot point. 

What to do in Devils Tower National Monument  

  • Hike one of the park’s five designated hiking trails. Each one offers different views of Devil’s Tower, and the park’s
    lets visitors know which hikes are best for full-day hikes, half-day ones, hiking with pets, etc.  
  • Devil’s Tower has some of the best stargazing you can get. After all, half the park is after dark! 

When to visit Devils Tower National Monument  

If you plan on making a trip to the park after dark, check the sky conditions beforehand. Summer temperatures can climb up to 100, and spring weather in the Black Hills is notoriously unpredictable.  
Bottom line? Take a look at the forecast and pick the best day for your planned activities.  

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area 

Location: Lovell, Wyoming 
Hours of operation: 24 hours, year-round 
Admission price: Free 

What makes Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area special 

Bighorn Canyon
’s 120,000-plus acres stretch between
and Wyoming. The park is technically separated into two districts: a northern district in Fort Smith, MT, and a southern one in Lovell, WY, each three hours apart. 
  • Approximately one-third of the park is located on Crow Indian Reservation.
  • There are five different climate zones in the canyon, from high desert to alpine, breeding diverse wildlife like mule deer, Pryor mountain horses, black bears, and (of course) bighorn sheep. 

What to do in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

  • Hiking: The park’s southern district has twelve different trails for visitors to traverse, with some are short as a quarter mile and others as long as just over four and a half miles. 
  • Ranch tours: If you’re looking to scratch your cowboy itch, you should take a ranger-led tour of one of the four historic dude ranches located on the park’s premises. 
  • Take to the water:
    a boat or bring your own to cruise around the chasm.   

When to visit Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area 

The park has a very arid, desert-like climate. While this means little rainfall year-round, summer temperatures can reach 100, and winter temperatures can drop to below zero with windchill. Spring and fall see the most moderate weather throughout the year. 

How to prepare to visit Wyoming’s national parks 

Before you venture off the take in all of the incredible natural wonders Wyoming has to offer in its national parks, you should do the following to make sure you have the best time possible: 
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