One of the “newer” US states – it became the country’s 44th state in 1890 – Wyoming boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in North America. As the USA’s least populated state with just a little over half a million residents, it has substantially fewer towns and cities than most other states. But those small towns that do exist in Wyoming certainly do make the most of the stunning backdrop provided by the 109 named mountain ranges found here.
Read through our list of these 7-picture-perfect towns in Wyoming to find out more about how these communities make the most of their beautiful surroundings to attract visitors from far and wide.
The best-known of the small towns included on our list of places to visit in Wyoming, Jackson is famous as the gateway to two of the country’s best-known and most popular wilderness areas: Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Often referred to as Jackson Hole, which is the large valley in which it and several other communities are situated, Jackson captivates with its distinctive Western flair.
The town is famous for its iconic elk antler arches, a symbol of its deep connection to the natural world and the perfect selfie spot. Jackson is also popular for its hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Buffalo’s picturesque setting in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains certainly helped its chances of making it onto our list of picture-perfect towns in Wyoming. Looking every inch like it belongs in the American West, Buffalo was founded in 1879 and its frontier culture is still celebrated today.
So authentic is the town’s Old West feel that it’s even appeared on TV and cinema screens, most notably in the Western drama, Longmire. One of Buffalo’s most recognizable landmarks is The Historic Occidental Hotel. Now over 130 years old, it has hosted historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and bad guy Butch Cassidy.
Being named after the legendary frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody certainly hasn’t hurt the town of Cody. Founded in 1901 and every bit the quintessential Old West town, Cody is known as the "Rodeo Capital of the World," a title that reflects its deep-rooted cowboy culture. Nightly rodeos attract visitors throughout the summer.
Great photo opportunities can be had at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, a complex of museums that takes a deep dive into the history of the American West. Notable exhibits relate to Buffalo Bill, Western art, firearms, and Plains Indian artifacts. Cody's proximity to Yellowstone National Park adds to its appeal, offering easy access to one of the nation's most famous natural landmarks.
Named after General Philip Sheridan, a Union cavalry leader in the American Civil War, the city of Sheridan was the scene of several battles between the army and Native American tribes before its establishment in 1878. Sheridan's growth was significantly boosted by the arrival of the Burlington and Missouri Railroad in 1892, leading to the construction of significant landmarks like the Sheridan Inn, where Buffalo Bill Cody was a financial partner.
Driven by industries like coal mining and railroad maintenance, the town grew rapidly, and by the 1920s had become an agricultural processing center. The town's picturesque setting and frontier vibe today draw tourists from across the country, especially for its rodeos. One of the country’s longest-running, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, has been going since. You can also learn more about the town’s cowboy culture at the fascinating Don King’s Western Museum.
Thermopolis is a must-visit destination in Wyoming for those who enjoy hot springs. Given the Greek name "hot city" for its being home to the world's largest geothermal mineral hot spring, the aptly named Big Spring, you can experience these wonderful natural phenomena at Hot Springs State Park. Accessible to the public thanks to an 1896 treaty with the Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes, spending time here is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Wyoming.
The discovery of dinosaur fossils on the Warm Springs Ranch in 1993 led to the founding of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, a significant attraction that offers paleontology digs and a museum.
Laramie is another small Wyoming town with a big Old West heart. Home to 31,000 residents and the fourth most populous city in Wyoming, the town’s elevation at 7,200 feet certainly adds to its unique feel, as does its river setting on the Laramie River. Inhabited by Indigenous populations for over 12,000 years before the arrival of settlers in 1868, Laramie's early history as a frontier town was marked by lawlessness until it eventually became the cultural and economic center of the newly organized Wyoming Territory.
Notable attractions include the Vedauwoo Recreation Area with its imposing igneous rock formations being popular among rock climbers; the Laramie Plains Museum at the Historic Ivinson Mansion, which provides a glimpse into the life of Laramie in the late 1800s; and the museums and galleries of the University of Wyoming.
Set in the Bighorn Basin and flanked by the Bighorn Mountains, Ten Sleep acquired its unusual name from the Native American means of describing distances, with the former trapper camp being “10 sleeps” from both Yellowstone and Fort Laramie. Highlights include Ten Sleep Canyon, the former site of the Girl Scout National Center West which has since been transformed into the Tensleep Preserve, popular for its workshops and seminars.
Be sure to visit the Ten Sleep Mercantile, a historic general store that has been a focal point of the town since 1905. Popular events held here include a two-day rodeo and parade around the 4th of July, and Nowoodstock, an eclectic music festival held in August.
While well known for its stunning scenery with that everywhere present mountain backdrop, Wyoming is coming into its own for its small-town escapes. Visit these seven picture-perfect towns in Wyoming to discover their distinct character, breathtaking landscapes, and rich heritage.