Downtown Jackson Hole Wyoming USA on September 28, 2015 It was named after David Edward "Davey" Jackson who trapped beaver in the area in the early nineteenth century.

10 coolest small towns in Wyoming for a summer vacation

The 44th State is home to seven national parks, including Yellowstone with its world-famous Old Faithful Geyser. First home to dinasaurs, then settled by traders and trappers, Wyoming went on to become a wild-west state. It was the first state to allow women to vote and the first with a female governor, hence the name Equality State.

Call it Equiality or Cowboy State, Wyoming has got it all. The state has so much coolness that you may not know where to start, so let us be your guide. Choose a small town from this list of Wyoming's coolest to land amid the state's famed parks, national parks, and forests, with looming mountain ranges everywhere you look.


Aerial view of Buffalo, Wyoming which is at the base of the Bighorn Mountains
Aerial view of Buffalo, Wyoming which is at the base of the Bighorn Mountains

The characterful Old West small city of under 5,000 year-round residents in the magnificent shadow of Bighorn Mountain is a cool destination for sunny vacation days. With many outdoor activities, Buffalo is also filled with a range of interesting discoveries that kids enjoy and remember for a lifetime. Enjoy a peaceful stroll along the streets amid scenic American "westies" from Buffalo's past and learn about how it all got started in one of the state's oldest towns at the over-a-century-old Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum. The fascinating Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite offers prints of prehistoric giants in fossilized dinosaur tracks; visitors can walk in their footsteps on a tour.

The Occidental Hotel. Founded in 1880 at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains near the Bozeman Trail, it became one of the most renowned hotels in Wyoming, via Steve Cukrov /
The Occidental Hotel. Founded in 1880 at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains near the Bozeman Trail, it became one of the most renowned hotels in Wyoming, via Steve Cukrov /

The town, spliced by creeks and with the great outdoors at its doorstep, is a great place to spend summer days in nature, fishing, camping, and hiking, like at the Clear Creek Trailhead just outside to the west. Return to the downtown scene, once tramped by Teddy Roosevelt and Butch Cassidy, who stayed at the 140-year-old Occidental Hotel, where you can also have a good night's rest or visit for sights. Come back in the winter for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing throughout the winter months.


Aerial view of Dubois, Wyoming
Aerial view of Dubois, Wyoming

The small town of Dubois in northern Wyoming is abounding with year-round adventures that wonderfully dot the streets along the scenic Wind River. With plentiful hunting, hiking, and fishing opportunities around town, you can find a niche or try everything and realize your full summertime potential. The ranches beckon families and wild West aficionados to release their inner cowboy along the frontier's forefront. The quiet mountain town, one of the state's prettiest, swells from a population of around 1,000 as summer tourism streams to the Rocky Mountains, the Absarokas, and the Wind River Mountains.

Visit wildlife like wolves, elk, grizzly bears, and moose in this forested part of the state and stop by the National Bighorn Sheep Center, dedicated to preserving Wyoming's population of majestic bighorn sheep. Take on the foothills and peaks via mountain biking and rock climbing through the lush slopes and refreshing woodlands of the expansive mountain range. Return to this energetic hub in winter for chillier pastimes like skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling for both beginners and snow bunnies.


Panoramic aerial view of Jackson Hole homes and beautiful mountains on a summer morning, Wyoming, via
Panoramic aerial view of Jackson Hole homes and beautiful mountains on a summer morning, Wyoming

One of the larger small towns in Wyoming, Jackson is home to 11,000 people and offers plenty of space and activities to enjoy a cool summer vacation in close company with your loved ones. The Teton County town in Jackson Hole Valley is your idyllic mid-ground in-between Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, and Yellowstone. With so much outdoors a stone's throw away, you can spend an endless summer in nature's embrace through hiking, camping, and mountain biking. Return in winter for skiing and snowboarding at the curious mountain formation of the "Sleeping Indian," where the wooden sidewalks and an aerial tram offer great summertime views.

Ski slopes in Jackson Hole with panorama of vintage houses, via WitGorski /
Ski slopes in Jackson Hole with panorama of vintage houses, via WitGorski /

Downtown Jackson is a real modern oasis, starkly contrasting Wyoming’s expansive wilderness. The charming streets call for everything from high-end boutique shopping to unique souvenir hunts to high-class restaurants galore with world-wide cuisine and all styles of dining. Head to the Antler Arch Square, an Instagram-worthy place to spend a whole day absorbing the local culture. Return to the historic Wort Hotel, but don't turn in; the on-site bar is a great place to share drinks and cool impressions of the day over live local country music.


Fourth of July parade in small town America
Fourth of July parade in Lander, Wyoming

The historic small city that celebrates its wild west heritage with a bang in everyday life is full of scenic vestiges from the past. With a population of some 7,000, Lander is a cool summer destination, as is evident from the sheer number of annual visitors. The shining star in Wyoming meets demand exceptionally well with enough amenities and attractions to enjoy an immersive summer in sunshine and relative peace. "Where the trails end and the trails begin" is a telling moniker of the vast outdoor opportunities, like the surrounding forests and state parks.

Little Popo Agie River, near Lander, Wyoming, with calm water
Little Popo Agie River, near Lander, Wyoming, with calm water

You can bike trails through Atmospheric Sinks State Park and go rock climbing in the Wind River Mountains. Visit Lander's two museums on the region's pioneering history and the American West. Enjoy the most popular Pioneer Days Rodeo the first week in July with your crew and the three-day International Climber's Festival shortly after. The family-friendly town is perfect any season, with free camping to watch the spectacular sunrises and sunsets around Sinks Canyon State Park. The concentration of local breweries will keep you happily busy during the evenings, but don't miss this town for too long and come back for the epic Wyoming State Winter Fair.


Street view in Pinedale, wYoming
Street view in Pinedale, Wyoming, via Wikipedia

The ruggedness of Pinedale is what attracts many to it for cool summer adventures in the great outdoors. It also helps the town stay hidden behind the sedate wilderness that makes others skip. Pinedale deserves thorough exploration amid its prevailing wild west spirit and cowboy culture, which permeate the atmosphere. There's plenty to see and do on summer vacation, like strolling through Downtown Pinedale, which blissfully derives its appeal from natural wilderness and blends with a traditional Western aesthetic.

Enjoy warm summer days along Fremont Lake and head to Bridger Wilderness for a shaded heaven, nature strolls, and picnics. Experience local culture at bars and pubs and welcoming hospitality at cozy places to stay, all near the Bridger-Teton National Forest at the foot of the Wind River Mountains. The natural environment, like pristine lakes, rivers, and trails, is home to amazing wildlife, while the Wyoming Range and the Gros Ventre Mountains will be your guides on outdoor ventures.


Highway road in rural countryside in Powell Wyoming
Highway road in rural countryside in Powell Wyoming

This gateway town into the immensely scenic Yellowstone National Park has cool attractions to linger around. Enjoy endless ventures through the park and check out the wondrous Bighorn Basin, along with unrivalled access to the mountains and forest with trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. No summer vacation is complete in Powell without kayaking, canoeing, or blissful relaxation along sun-kissed banks. Enjoy the winding waterways and return in winter for cross-country skiing with new snowy vistas.

Powell is popular with anglers and seasonal hunters, while those who would rather fish for the past should visit the exhibits at the Homesteader Museum or the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center at the heart of the city. The charming town has something for everyone, like cultural attractions, spots to soak up the sunrays, and shaded trails through the flourishing green forestscape. Find entertainment in the bustling city center for any group or taste.

Rock Springs

Rock Springs is the 5th Largest Town in Wyoming
Rock Springs is the 5th Largest Town in Wyoming

The small town of Rock Springs is a peaceful place to spend a really cool summer vacation at the gateway to the high deserts of southwestern Wyoming. Explore this unique landscape through world-class hiking, camping, fishing, golfing, and off-roading. Head into town for some memorable family fun at fun rodeo events, like the Red Desert Roundup, with summertime entertainment. Rock Springs is encased in beauty, where you can find a cozy vacation place right in town to be in the midst of it all.

The small population and wide array of services come at great prices and without crowds, including a variety of cuisine, entertainment, and the arts. Enjoy summertime concerts in the parks and visit museums to learn about Rock Springs' culture and history. Immerse yourself in the full spectrum of Rock Springs culinary and artistic offerings at the fun and popular Flaming Gorge Days.


Main street in Sheridan, Wyoming
Main street in Sheridan, Wyoming, via Ems Images /

Sheridan is truly cool for masterfully blending Wyoming's old and new like no other town in the state. It delivers a unique, modern retreat with fresh attractions and classic vestiges from the past for a memorable summer vacation. Sheridan would not be truly Wyoming without its delightful Old West scene or breathtaking mountainous views. Enjoy plenty of open spaces for relaxation and outdoor pursuits amid nature's serenity. Seek the quintessential Wyoming experience along the exciting and historic urban district, which has something for everyone, like arts, culture, and landmarks.

Western heritage on display at shop, via Sandra Foyt /
Western heritage on display at shop, via Sandra Foyt /

From epic hiking and biking trails to horseback riding and pristine fishing holes, you will have enough to fill every day of a summer's itinerary with different vistas. Even if you don't go for some awesome rock climbing adventures, the nearby Bighorn Mountains will be in your constant view. Head out on a relaxing scenic drive around the divine landscapes and stop for a stroll to the picturesque Porcupine Falls, one of the most celebrated treasures in the area. Immerse yourself in cultural history at the Brintom Museum and SAGE Community Arts, and try the town's awesome culinary scene.


Aerial view of the mouth of South Piney Canyon near Story, Wyoming
Aerial view of the mouth of South Piney Canyon near Story, Wyoming

Established in 1901 by a horse trader, Story is a lovely town in northern Wyoming. The 1,000 locals live at an astounding 5,036 feet above sea level, surrounded by tremendous mountain vistas. Find this popular retreat for mountaineers in between North and South Piney Creeks, amid a wooded landscape characterized by abundant wildlife and the looming Bighorn Mountains. Check out the Wagon Box Fight monument and the site of the Battle of the Hundred in the Hands, central to Indian battlefields and Fort Phil Kearny from 1866, along the Bozeman Trail, at the end of the Oregon Trail. In August 1867, a detachment of 32 men and officers under Captain James Powell avoided the expected massacre by hundreds of Red Cloud’s braves thanks to a wagon cover and new rifles.

The Piney Creek through town is one of the state's best for rock climbing, fishing, and hunting. Check into Story Pines Inn, Wagon Box Inn, or the Waldorf Astoria Story Guest Haus for scenically historic stays, and check out Wyoming Game & Fish, which has a hatchery. Enjoy cool activities and a slower pace in town amid mountain air and views of the Aigorm Mountains to the west. The beautiful town with views attracts artists that only make the town more appealing every year while managing to remain a remote getaway.


Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis, Wyoming
Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis, Wyoming

Thermopolis really heats things up to a new level of cool while maintaining a chill vibe and authentic vestiges. As one of the most beautiful towns in Wyoming with hot springs, it is a popular rejuvenating destination without being a tourist trap. Venture through town to the world's largest mineral hot spring amid the appealing mountain embrace. Immerse yourself in the outdoor pools and public baths to relax the body, calm the mind, and soothe the soul. Discover prehistoric life in Thermopolis, once home to dinosaurs and now home to around 3,000 permanent human residents.

Enjoy over a millennium of history or a luxurious spa retreat in town that smashes all conventional notions of Wyoming as the most unique destination in the state. Follow nationwide tourists to its literal hotspot, the Hot Springs State Park's mineral spring bathhouse, where herds of bison roam freely around the terrain under a prevalent aura of serenity and complete immersion with nature. Explore the Wyoming Dinosaur Center with its many millions-old prehistoric fossils and the Hot Springs County Museum for history. Even the kids will find their element at the wet-and-wild slides of the Star Plunge water park.

The Takeaway

Despite being one of the least populated states in the US, Wyoming is surely popular among tourists, particularly summer vacationers looking for outdoor activities. These ten small towns masterfully take the best aspects of the Big State and do a cool magic trick of combing it all into a small place with attractions and pursuits for an endlessly cool summer.

Pick a wild card and get a hot springs destination, a wild west scene, prehistoric sites, a town that combines it all, or a hotspot that throws a wholly new, unique twist in the face of conventional Wyoming tourism. Wherever you go, there will be plenty of modern attractions in town to suit any group and taste for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and mountain biking.

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