Vast wilderness, surreal rock formations, and abundant wildlife are just some of the ecological treasures you’ll find in Wyoming and South Dakota. Many of these incredible attractions are open, ready for your visit, and easy to reach by car, making it easy to plan an unforgettable road trip. So bring the whole family! The range of options here—from hiking South Dakota’s stunning Badlands National Park to driving the gorgeous Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway from Yellowstone National Park to Cody, Wyoming—means that travelers of all ages will find plenty to enjoy. Here’s how to do it.
Be Awed by Wyoming’s Wonders
Start your journey at legendary Yellowstone National Park—America’s first national park, which is open with some limitations. Visit highlights like the iconic Old Faithful geyser and multi-hued Grand Prismatic Spring. Hike around the 110-foot Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River as water gushes over the ledge. Go horseback riding, then up the adrenaline level with some whitewater rafting—all while keeping an eye out for the area’s famous wildlife, like bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Also look for delicious ice cream made with locally sourced huckleberries. And for a real treat, savor a gourmet meal with a water view at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel.
Continue on and be inspired by adventurers who came before you. In Cody, you’ll find the fascinating Old Trail Town, with authentic frontier buildings from the 1890s. Over at the Powell Homesteader Museum, see how the pioneers of the early 20th century lived. And check out the Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting in Greybull; its amazing collection of WWII bombers, helicopters, and fire-taming planes sits outdoors on a working airfield, backdropped by Wyoming’s rugged beauty.
Your next stop involves sampling the unique suds at Ten Sleep Brewing Co., set in a barn with beautiful views of the Bighorn Mountains. It’s the perfect introduction to nearby Bighorn National Forest, where more craggy cliffs—as well as wildflower-filled meadows and crystal-clear lakes—make for Instagram-ready hikes. As you continue west from there, be sure to check out the Devil Canyon Overlook in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, where a winding river cuts dramatically through ancient rocks.
Then, before crossing state lines, take a breather in Keyhole State Park, where you can grab some picnic food and stretch out on a sandy beach.
Adventure Across South Dakota
Cross state lines, where there are currently no restrictions, and at the northern end of the Black Hills, you’ll find the spectacular Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. Marvel at the three waterfalls along this 19-mile stretch and save some time to hike trails like Devil’s Bathtub or Roughlock Falls.
Reward yourself by relaxing with a glass of wine and a mountain view at the award-winning Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City. That view also goes well with a refreshing pint at Miner Brewing Company next door—a passion project for Prairie Berry’s winemaker. Then it’s off to witness the grandeur of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial. Don’t miss the magnificent views at nearby Breezy Point, where a sea of trees stretches off to a mountainous horizon.
Head over to Custer State Park to drive the scenic Wildlife Loop Road. Surrounded by wildflowers and prairie grasses, look for bison, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and eagles. Stop at the State Game Lodge for unique dishes with regional ingredients.
Then explore a world that lives in total darkness: This area features two of the world’s longest caves at Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument. Hike the surface trails, then head underground if you can.
Finish with an unforgettable adventure in the surreal-looking world of Badlands National Park, where craggy layers of rock erupt dramatically from the earth and stretch off across the landscape. Witness the skyward spires, hike a gorgeous canyon, and look for bighorn sheep and prairie dogs. Hungry? Sample the famous Indian Tacos at Cedar Pass Lodge, and plan to stay over. Out here, so far removed from the urban lights, the night sky becomes a dazzling wonderland of stars.
Learn about even more amazing adventure spots that are open and ready for your visit in Wyoming and South Dakota and book your trip today!