The Best Mountain Towns in Wyoming to Stay in—From Yellowstone to the Tetons

These big little cities and frontier towns are great bases for exploration in Wyoming.

A paved road cuts through mountains dotted with trees and snow at the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Cody - Wyoming - USA

Cody, at the east entrance of Yellowstone, is a perfect base for hiking and fishing adventures.

Photo By Mahmoud Ghazal/Shutterstock

Wyoming is sprawling, with more than 100 mountain ranges—and as it’s the least populous U.S. state, there’s plenty of room to roam. The key is knowing which mountain town to make your home base, be it somewhere in the Tetons or the Bighorns, or perhaps the Washburn Range and the Red Mountains of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone.

“Any mountain town worth its salt also has a compelling history with the right mix of drama and charm,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the tourism arm of the town named for co-founding settler Buffalo Bill Cody.

Follow the footsteps of the “Cowboy State” pioneers, past landscapes that inspired painter Thomas Moran, to lakes, reservoirs, and wild rivers—you can’t go wrong in these Wyoming mountain towns and cities. Read on for more about jaw-dropping Jackson, the arts scene in Sheridan, old reliable Cheyenne, and Cody and its cowboy history.


Cody’s roots are the ace-high Old West: This small northwest town of 10,000 dates to 1896, when Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and fellow investors saw the area’s promise—even now, it’s still a gateway to some of the country’s best hiking, fishing, and ice climbing—and put down roots.

Along Old Trail Town, frozen in time, sits a re-created frontier town with 28 old log cabins, an 1800s saloon, and horse-drawn carriages. There’s the grave and the hunting lodge of Buffalo Bill and a bank once robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (Also in Cody: a budding craft beer scene.)

Much of Cody’s appeal, though, has to do with its location. It sits an hour’s drive from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park—a stretch of road that Teddy Roosevelt called “the most scenic 52 miles in America.” If you’d rather pass on Yellowstone’s crowds, follow the North Fork Highway into an often overlooked national forest, Shoshone National Forest. And no summer trip to Cody would be complete without the rodeo.

Where to stay

Check into Buffalo Bill Cody’s hunting lodge, Pahaska Tepee Resort, where he passed the time with Teddy Roosevelt outside the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. Or saddle up at Rimrock Ranch, which offers on-site horseback riding and whitewater rafting trips.

A log cabin sits on a grassy field in front of a mountain range near Jackson, Wyoming

Transition easily from tiny Jackson to the wilderness of the surrounding Tetons.

Photo By Mick Kirchman/Unsplash


The Tetons, arguably the most jaw-dropping mountain range in the country, are appropriately nicknamed “the Mountains of the Imagination.” Grand Teton National Park, stretching 485 square miles wide and 13,775 feet tall at its highest point, offers endless year-round outdoor adventure, with hiking, biking, rafting, climbing, and skiing (Jackson Hole, Snow King, and Grand Targhee)—not to mention a national elk refuge. Down in the valley, at the foot of the mountains, by rivers and lakes, is the area’s main town of Jackson. Jackson Hole is an 80-mile-long valley feeding into it, six miles south of Yellowstone. With sweeping views—thanks to wetlands wildlife protection—through the antler arches at Jackson Town Square, this thriving and lively town is filled with art galleries (try Diehl or Maya Frodeman Gallery) and the National Museum of Wildlife Art with works by Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keeffe. There’s plenty of shopping, restaurants, and cafés (indulge in a pastry from Persephone Bakery), or go all out with a covered wagon dinner ride past Cache Creek Canyon.

Where to stay

The Amangani brings nature right to you, with its wood and stone accents and wide picture windows framing the Tetons. Or mix it up with a roadside motel turned boutique, now called Anvil Hotel.

A man on a bucking horse in front of crowds in the stands at the 2005 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo

Learn about cowboy culture and the cowgirls of the West in Cheyenne.

Photo By Lincoln Rogers/Shutterstock


Along the path of the transcontinental railroad, Cheyenne has a celebrated cowboy history—and an up-and-coming arts scene. Here, at the foot of the Laramie Mountains, an hour and a half north of Denver, the Western frontier life goes on in the country’s oldest continuously registered livestock operation, Wyoming Hereford Ranch.

Wyoming’s capital is full of history, from the original 1886 Union Pacific Depot (its relics now at Cheyenne Depot Museum) to the Cowgirls of the West Museum, honoring the rowdy female pioneers of “The Equality State.” That’s right—Wyoming was the first state to elect a female governor and the first to give women the right to vote. But the main attraction in Cheyenne is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, held every July.

Check out funky nature-inspired murals and the scrap-metal sculptures downtown that mimic the area’s wildlife and natural landscapes. A short scenic drive from Cheyenne, Medicine Bow National Forest is a rocky mountain sanctuary, also known as Vedauwoo; it’s the perfect setting for relaxing or rock climbing.

Where to stay

Curl up on cowhide under antlers at the Historic Plains Hotel, a landmark property once frequented by cattle barons and roving writers like Ernest Hemingway.

The brick and wood facade of Mint Bar, Sheridan's oldest bar, with a neon sign of a cowboy on a bucking horse

The Mint Bar is Sheridan’s oldest watering hole, dating to 1907.

Photo By Sandra Foyt/Shutterstock


This charming arts city sits halfway between Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore, at the base of the Bighorn Mountains, where inspiration comes in the form of pristine lakes and rivers. The city’s historic downtown is dotted with boutiques and galleries. Check out the Mint Bar, a staple since 1907 (aside from a short hiatus during Prohibition). Prefer to earn your libation? Take a bike ride along 13 miles of trails that connect to the celebrated Blacktooth Brewing Company, known for its live music and food trucks. Check the concert and theater listings at WYO Performing Arts & Education Center inside a restored 1923 theater.

Nearby is the landmark of Bighorn Canyon—some 2,500 feet deep—and wild horses roam 31,000 acres at the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, discovered on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Where to stay

The historic Sheridan Inn is another stomping ground of Buffalo Bill, who held auditions for his Wild West Show on its classic wraparound porch. Nearby at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Canyon Ranch offers a home base to try fly fishing.

Anna Fiorentino is a storyteller focused on outdoors, adventure, and travel. Her work has appeared in AFAR, National Geographic, National Geographic Travel, Outside, BBC Travel, Boston Globe Magazine, and other publications.
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