The beautiful town of Sheridan in Wyoming.

8 Oldest Founded Towns To Visit In Wyoming

Wyoming has a rich history, with several towns boasting a legacy that dates back centuries. If you're a fan of exploring historical sites and immersing yourself in the charm of small towns, Wyoming offers a variety of options. In this guide, we will journey through eight of the oldest-founded cities in Wyoming, each with a population of fewer than 50,000. From the picturesque landscapes surrounding Jackson to the cultural treasures of Lander and the Wild West allure of Cody, these towns offer a glimpse into Wyoming's past while providing unique points of interest and delightful shops. So, pack your bags and prepare to delve into the historical tapestry of Wyoming's oldest towns.


Aerial view of Jackson, Wyoming.
Aerial view of Jackson, Wyoming.

Jackson, Wyoming, traces its history back to the early 19th century as a trading post during the fur trade era. Nestled in the stunning Teton Range, it flourished as a frontier town, attracting adventurers and fur trappers and eventually becoming a gateway to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. Today, Jackson preserves its rich heritage while embracing its role as a vibrant tourist destination, offering a blend of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and a touch of the Old West.

Jackson Hole presents breathtaking views of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, providing ample outdoor activities and wildlife encounters. The town square, with its iconic elk antler arches, boutique shops, and art galleries, captures the essence of the Old West and invites visitors to explore its charming streets. Additionally, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, perched on a hill overlooking the National Elk Refuge, houses an impressive collection of wildlife-themed artwork. From the awe-inspiring landscapes to the vibrant cultural scene, Jackson offers a delightful experience that combines the wonders of nature with artistic and local flavors.


Scene from downtown Cody, Wyoming.

Cody, Wyoming, named after the legendary showman Buffalo Bill Cody, boasts a fascinating history rooted in the Wild West. Founded in the late 19th century, it was a hub for cowboys, outlaws, and settlers, embracing its frontier spirit. Cody's legacy is preserved in attractions like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Cody Stampede Rodeo, celebrating its Western heritage and showcasing the enduring legacy of the American West. It is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, providing convenient access to its captivating natural wonders. Visitors can explore Yellowstone's geothermal features, majestic mountains, and abundant wildlife starting from Cody's eastern entrance.

Moreover, the town hosts the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, comprising five museums dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the American West. Exhibits showcase Western art, Native American artifacts, natural history, firearms, and the life of Buffalo Bill Cody. The center offers an immersive experience, allowing visitors to delve into the diverse narratives of the American West. With its proximity to Yellowstone and the cultural richness of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody offers an enticing blend of nature and history for travelers to enjoy.


The beautiful town of Lander in Wyoming.
The beautiful town of Lander in Wyoming. Image credit: Charles Willgren from Fort Collins, Colorado, United States, via Wikimedia Commons.

Lander, Wyoming, nestled in the scenic Wind River Valley, offers a range of attractions for visitors to explore. Originally inhabited by Native American tribes, the area later became a focal point for exploration during the 19th-century Western expansion. Lander's significance was further heightened by the Lewis and Clark expedition, which ventured through the region. Today, the town pays tribute to its heritage with historical sites, museums, and events that showcase the enduring legacy of its Native American and exploratory roots.

Sinks Canyon State Park, located nearby, showcases fascinating geological formations, including the mysterious "Sinks" and "Rise" of the Popo Agie River. This natural wonder draws visitors with its captivating disappearing act and reappearance downstream. The Museum of the American West in Lander captures the region's rich history and culture. Exhibits feature Native American artifacts, pioneer life, and the exploration of the American West.

Lander's downtown area adds to its charm with local shops, restaurants, and art galleries, making it a choice retirement location. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, fishing, and camping in the surrounding mountains and forests. Lander promises a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural exploration, and outdoor adventure.

Green River

The bridge over Green River in Wyoming in the public park in autumn
The bridge over Green River in Wyoming.

Green River, Wyoming, has a compelling history rooted in its role as a vital transportation hub during the development of the railroad era. As a strategic stop along the Union Pacific Railroad, the Green River was pivotal in connecting the East and West coasts. Today, the town preserves its heritage through historical sites and offers a gateway to outdoor recreational opportunities in stunning landscapes. The city is named after the Green River, which flows nearby and provides opportunities for outdoor recreation such as fishing, boating, and rafting.

Visitors can explore Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, known for its stunning red cliffs, deep canyons, and the picturesque Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The Expedition Island Park, located in the heart of Green River, is a historical site where John Wesley Powell embarked on his famous 1869 Colorado River expedition. The Park offers picnic areas and a boat ramp, perfect for relaxation and water-based activities. Green River combines natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and historical significance to create a memorable experience for all who visit.


Highway through Evanston, Wyoming. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

Evanston, Wyoming, nestled in the southwestern part of the state, holds a significant place in history as an essential stop along the transcontinental railroad. The town played a pivotal role in connecting the East and West coasts, contributing to the development of the American West. It offers a variety of attractions for visitors to explore. Bear River State Park, nestled around Wyoming's national parks, is a notable geographical point of interest, providing opportunities for outdoor activities such as picnicking, wildlife viewing, and nature walks. The Park's scenic beauty, featuring the Bear River and lush meadows, creates a serene environment for visitors to enjoy.

Additionally, the Uinta County Museum in Evanston showcases the rich history and heritage of the region. Exhibits highlight the area's pioneer days, railroad history, and Native American culture, offering a fascinating journey into the past. Evanston combines natural splendor with cultural enrichment, providing a well-rounded experience for those who visit.


Downtown Sheridan, Wyoming. 

Sheridan, Wyoming, is located in the scenic Bighorn Mountains region, one of the most exciting landforms in America. It carries a vibrant history as a thriving cattle town and military outpost. Established in the late 19th century, it attracted ranchers, cowboys, and soldiers, shaping the town's character and identity. It offers a range of attractions for visitors to discover. The city's historic downtown area, lined with beautiful brick buildings, is home to numerous shops, art galleries, and restaurants, creating a vibrant and charming atmosphere. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the nearby Bighorn National Forest, known for its pristine landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

For history buffs, the Sheridan County Museum provides insights into the region's past, showcasing exhibits on Native American culture, pioneer life, and rich heritage. With its blend of cultural offerings and natural beauty, Sheridan provides a delightful experience for travelers seeking a taste of Wyoming's history and scenic landscapes.


Downtown Rawlins, looking north from I-80.
Downtown Rawlins, looking north from I-80. Image credit: Vasiliymeshko, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rawlins, Wyoming, situated in the southern part of the state, has a notable history tied to the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad in the late 19th century. It was an essential stop along the railroad route, fueling the town's growth. It uniquely blends history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure. The city's historic downtown area boasts well-preserved buildings that reflect its rich heritage. Visitors can explore the Carbon County Museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits on the area's mining, railroad, and pioneer history. It even has a place in the history of the state's flag.

Rawlins is also a gateway to outdoor recreation, with nearby attractions like Seminole State Park and the Medicine Bow National Forest. These areas offer fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Whether delving into the past at the museum or immersing in the scenic wonders of the surrounding landscapes, Rawlins provides a captivating experience for visitors to Wyoming.


Trail of the Whispering Giants totem statue, by artist Peter Wolf.
Trail of the Whispering Giants totem statue, by artist Peter Wolf in Worland. Editorial credit: melissamn /

Worland, Wyoming, nestled in the scenic Big Horn Basin, has a history rooted in agricultural development and the early settlement of the Big Horn Basin. The town's pioneers worked hard to establish a thriving community amidst the challenging landscape. It offers a charming small-town experience with a touch of natural beauty. Picturesque landscapes surround the city, including the Big Horn Mountains and Hot Springs State Park. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and soaking in the mineral-rich hot springs.

Worland's downtown area features local shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, including the Washakie Museum and Cultural Center, which showcases the history and heritage of the region. Its scenic surroundings make it a popular retirement location with cultural offerings and opportunities for relaxation and exploration. Worland provides a delightful escape for those seeking a serene and authentic Wyoming experience.

Final Notes

Wyoming's oldest-founded towns provide a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and local charm. From the rugged splendor of Jackson's surrounding national parks to the rich Western heritage of Cody, each town offers its distinctive character and attractions. Whether you're a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or a curious traveler seeking authentic experiences, these eight towns will not disappoint.

Explore museums, hike through breathtaking landscapes, browse unique shops, and soak up the unique ambiance of these treasured Wyoming destinations. Embarking on a journey through these towns is not just a trip back in time but an opportunity to connect with the heart and soul of Wyoming's heritage. Plan your visit and discover the magic of Wyoming's oldest-founded towns.

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