Northern Wyoming Road Trip

Must-See Destinations for Your Northern Wyoming Road Trip

Have you ever wondered, why would anyone want to go on a northern Wyoming road trip? I will tell you why. You will see some of the most amazing scenery and landscapes. Join me and experience the natural beauty of Wyoming, as I share some must-visit places and tips during our 8-day road trip through northern Wyoming. Ensure you are prepared with this road trip packing list.

Northern Wyoming Road Trip Sign

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Wyoming is known for a lot of things that most people did not know, like:

  • It was the first state to allow women to vote & the first to elect a female governor
  • It was the first state to have a county public library
  • In 1872, Yellowstone was designated as the first National Park in the nation
  • The Devils Tower was declared the nations first national monument in 1906
  • The official sport of Wyoming is rodeo
  • Though not the official fruit, huckleberries are one of the most popular fruits as they can be found wild in the Northwest. 

When To Visit

Northern Wyoming Road Trip Sign

The best time to travel to northern Wyoming depends on your preferences and the activities you want to do during your trip. Wyoming has a diverse range of weather and seasonal variations, so it’s important to consider what you want to do and see while you’re there.

Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season in northern Wyoming. The weather is generally warm, and many outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, quadding,  fishing, and wildlife viewing are popular. The National Parks can be very crowded, especially Yellowstone, and accommodations might be more expensive.

Fall (September to October):  Fall is a beautiful time to visit Wyoming, especially for those who enjoy the changing colors of the trees. The crowds thin out, and the weather is still relatively mild. It’s a great time for hiking and wildlife watching.

Winter (November to February): Wyoming is known for its winter sports and activities. If you’re interested in skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling, then visiting during the winter season can be a fantastic experience.

Spring (March to May): Spring is a transitional time in Wyoming. While the weather can still be cool, it’s a quieter time to visit compared to the summer. Some roads and trails might still be closed due to snow, but as the snow melts, you can witness the growth of spring wildflowers and the return of wildlife.

TIP: Make sure that you have travel insurance to keep yourself protected in case something happens. I recommend SafetyWing.

Northern Wyoming Road Trip Map

 The map below shows the must-see places to stop while traveling on your northern Wyoming road trip. You can choose to do them in the best order for you, but I will share it in the order that we did it. There was quite a bit of driving every day, but the scenery is worth it. My dog was with us so you will see references to whether the location was dog friendly or not.

If you decide to fly to into Wyoming, your best option is to fly into Cody or Gillette, depending which side of the mountains you want to start your trip from. You can easily get a car rental from either city.

Wyoming Map

You will also find tidbits of information about where we stayed, and food that tempted our taste buds during our trip. You can read more about these non-traditional places at Unique Places to Stay in Wyoming: Hidden Gems

Best Places to Visit in Wyoming


  • Lodging: Shell Campground & Cabins
  • Driving time: 1.5 hours each way (enjoy the scenery and small towns!)
  • Cost: Free
  • Dog Friendly: Everywhere except the Bath House

What to do in Thermopolis:

  • Hot Springs State Park Bath House – Relax in the mineral hot springs for 20 minutes at a time, up to three times per day, where the water is maintained at 104 degrees, believed to have therapeutic benefits.
  • Walk on one of the many trails where you can cross the swinging bridge across the Bighorn River.
  • Drive through the “Monarch of the Plains” and find the State Park bison herd. Remember to stay in your vehicle and not approach the animals.

We based out of Shell and drove ‘out of the way’ because I thought this place would be so intriguing. You will find it is a great place to spend the day relaxing in the park. You can have a picnic in the park, eat from a food truck or visit the Star Plunge, Hot Springs Water Park for $15.50 general admission for the day. You can easily spend a fun day in Thermopolis.

Tip: Take a 50 minute detour to Meeteetse and visit the Meeteetse Chocolatier. We heard it was amazing, however we got there and found it closed at 2pm because they sold out of chocolate. That must be a good sign.

Bighorn River, Hot Springs State Park
Bighorn River, Hot Springs State Park
Monarch of the Plains, Hot Springs State Park
Monarch of the Plains, Hot Springs State Park

Bighorn National Forest – Bighorn Scenic Byway – driving east on our northern Wyoming Road Trip

  • Route: Middle route through the Bighorn Mountains; 47 miles east along Highway 14 from Shell to Sheridan
  • Dog Friendly: Everywhere; Your dog can even become an official B.A.R.K. Ranger like our Lucy did.

What to do:

  • Visit Shell Falls Interpretive Site, Shell Creek Canyon and Shell Falls for a picturesque waterfall view and easy walk around the area. The falls are 120 feet in height and tumble over a base of rock and granite.
  • Granite Pass and Granite Creek Picnic area where you can view an area of damaged trees where a freak tornado swept through in 1959.
  • Tongue River / Tongue River Canyon where you can take in the views, take a dip in the river or do a hike through the canyon. For more details on this hike, check out my post on the best hikes in Bighorn.

The Bighorn Mountains has an average precipitation of less than 10 inches of rain and snow annually which qualifies it as a desert? The formations of rocks date back billions of years and they will amaze you. When you are driving and reach the top of the mountain,  you end up driving along the top’ which is an experience in itself, at an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level.

There are places to stop on this route where you can camp, relax, photograph a memory, have a picnic or go on a hike. Check out these tips and a checklist for hiking.

Tip: Pay attention to the areas beside the road. We almost hit a deer that was running towards the road with her two fawns. Luckily we slammed on the breaks but held the horn down. It was enough to scare the deer and she turned and ran the other way. Crisis diverted.

Shell Falls Bighorn National Forest
Shell Falls, Bighorn National Forest

Devils Tower National Monument

  • Lodging: Devils Tower Tipi Camping (that was an experience you must do at least once in your life! You can read about places to stay here).
  • Park Fees: $25 per private vehicle. More details on fees here.
  • Dog Friendly:  Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on the trails around the Devils Tower, so if you take your dog, ensure you park in the shade and keep your dog hydrated.

What to do:

  • Take in the Devils Tower National Monument, a unique geological formation and sacred site.
  • Hike around the base of Devils Tower on the 1.8 mile (2.9km) Tower Trail to catch amazing close-up views of the Tower and boulder fields
  • Stop by the Visitors Center and check out the neat things they have. A must purchase is the Trivial Pursuit National Parks Travel Edition. Highly recommend it as it was so much fun!

You can read a detailed description on our experience at the Devils Tower here.

Tip: Plan to arrive before 9am (or earlier if possible). The park gets extremely busy and as the morning progresses you can expect to wait up to an hour just to get to the parking lot. We arrived at 7:30am and enjoyed the hike with minimal people, beautiful weather and breathtaking scenery.

Devils Tower, Wyoming
Devils Tower, Wyoming
The Window on Devils Tower
The Window on Devils Tower

Bighorn National Forest – Medicine Wheel Passage – driving west on our northern Wyoming Road Trip

  • Route: Northern Route through the Bighorn Mountains; 27 miles west along Highway 14A Sheridan to Lovell (via Dayton).
  • Dog Friendly: Everywhere; 

What to do:

  • Admire Big Horn Lake which is part of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
  • Stop at the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark where you will see the circular alignment of limestone boulders surrounding the central cairn. It is considered a sacred site and hold many theories of its formation from the beliefs of the local native tribes.

This paved highway follows one of the highest routes in the state. The steep, winding road has a 10% grade and is not for the weak of heart. It was definitely an experience and we loved it! We did it a few times as we came back into the mountains twice to do some hiking.  

Tip: Driving through the Bighorn National Forest is a must on your road trip through northern Wyoming. There are three routes you can take, and we took two different routes so we could experience each route and the vast landscapes and driving that came with both. Note that this route is closed during the winter.

Bighorn Mountains, Medicine Wheel Passage
View of the Bighorn Mountains during our Wyoming road trip

We spent the remainder of the days based in Lovell staying at the Loft. It was a treat to stay here. You can read more about our stay here.

The Loft Lovell Wyoming

Hike – Bucking Mule Trail

  • Driving time: 1 hour to trailhead
  • Distance: 4.9miles (7.9km) out and back
  • Elevation: 450 feet (138m)
  • Dog friendly: Of course!

This was probably the best view of my whole trip. You can definitely experience a ‘high’ like no other as you peer down into the Devils Canyon from the Bucking Mule Falls Overlook. There are not many places you can get a breaktaking view of the canyon and the waterfall and literally feel on top of the world! It did not disappoint!

Want to read more about this hike? Check out the best day hikes in Bighorn.

If you are new to hiking, then make sure you read the beginner’s guide to hiking and download a free checklist to ensure you are prepared for your hikes.

Tip: If you follow Google Maps to get to the trailhead, do not turn on the dirt road! I promise you that you do not want to do that! We were lucky that we didn’t destroy our SUV in the process. Just go a little bit further and follow the signs to take the correct route. On this route you will see lots of back country camping sites, other trails and you may even find some wild mustangs like we did!

Bucking Mule Falls, Wyoming
Bucking Mule Falls, Bighorn National Forest
Wild Mustangs Wyoming
Devils Canyon Wyoming

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

  • Driving time: 26 minutes from Lovell to area entrance.
  • Cost: Free
  • Dog Friendly: Everywhere

What to do:

  • Drive through the South district entering into part of Montana
  • Hike one of the many trails (be aware of your surroundings). We hiked Rangers Delight Trail to get an amazing view of the Canyon. It was 0.8 miles (1.1km) with an elevation of 131 feet (40m)
  • Stop at Devil Canyon Overlook for a breathtaking photo

Bighorn Canyon is an expansive 120,000 acres of beauty. It has limited vegetation so is  a geological paradise. The rock formations contain fossils of extinct dinosaurs and creatures stemming back millions of years ago. 

Tip: Watch for wildlife. If you are lucky, you will see Bison, Mountain Goat, Wild Horses, Mountain Sheep, and maybe even some snakes on the hike. Stop at the Visitor Center before leaving Lovell to get an introduction to the area.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Wyoming
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Devil's Canyon Overlook, Bighorn Canyon
Devil’s Canyon Overlook, Bighorn Canyon

Cody, Wyoming

  • Driving time: 1 hour from Lovell.
  • Cost: Depends what you do.

What to do:

  •  Visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, housing five different museums showcasing Western art, history, and culture.
  • Explore downtown Cody’s shops and restaurants
Irma Hotel, Cody Wyoming
Huckleberry Vodka & Lemonade, Irma, Cody

Tip: Visit Irma’s Hotel & Restaurant, which Buffalo Bill Cody built for his daughter in 1902. Have a drink at the bar and order a Huckleberry Vodka and Lemonade.

Hike – Tongue River Canyon Trail

  • Driving time: 3 hours from Devils Tower or 2 hours from Lovell.
  • Distance: 4.7miles (7.7km) out and back
  • Elevation: 830 feet (253m) Dog friendly: Of course!

The trail runs along the river as the canyon walls get deeper and deeper. There are some mesmerizing limestone walls, and the views along the canyon are excellent. You can’t beat this trail through the Big Horn Mountains. You will fall in love!

Note. If you plan it correctly, you should do this hike on the way from Devils Tower back towards the Bighorn National Forest. Since it was super hot, we wanted to do the hike in the morning, so choose to drive back here a few days later. It is quite open so ensure you plan your hike according to the weather forecast.

Tip: Stop at the Dayton Mercantile Store after your hike and pick up some amazing Huckleberry Taffy or a milkshake to celebrate your accomplishment and support local.

Tongue River Canyon, Big Horn Mountains
Tongue River Canyon, Big Horn Mountains

Yellowstone National Park

  • Driving time: 2 hours from Lovell, 1 hour from Cody.
  • Park Fees: $35.oo per non-commercial vehicle. Click here to see the fee options.
  • Dog friendly: Only in parking lots and designated areas (unfortunately not on hiking trails, but we could take our dog to see Old Faithful).

What to do:

  • Enter Yellowstone National Park via the East Entrance
  • Take a picture at the iconic Continental Divide
  • Visit Old Faithful, the iconic geyser that erupts every 40 to 120 minutes
  • Explore the Grand Prismatic Spring and Painted Pots
  • Catch a glimpse of the local wildlife including Bison (please stay in your vehicle!)
  • Explore one of the easy hikes in Yellowstone

Click here to read a detailed description of our day trip through Yellowstone.

No matter what route you take, you will definitely see the best on this Wyoming road trip. The highlights I shared with you do not do justice unless you experience it in person. The connection you will feel when you travel through the landscapes around you, will take you to another place.

Tip: If you do not have time to do any hikes or stay close by overnight, then expect to stay at least 8 hours. Arrive as early as possible as the traffic and construction on the way to Old Faithful can test your patience. But I promise, it is worth it!

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone
Bison, Yellowstone Wyoming

Safety: Being a woman of color, my mother did not want me to travel to northern Wyoming by myself, even though I have traveled all over the world alone. She thought, a single girl, driving through a vastly unpopulated state with lots of small towns, would not be a good idea.

She ended up very happy when my boyfriend ended up joining me on my trip. I honestly can say that we met some of the nicest people we have ever met and Wyoming was one of our favorite destinations and we plan to come back again.

Be Prepared:

If you are visiting the USA from another country, consider getting an eSIM Card for your mobile phone, to avoid the high roaming changes and stay connected. I recommend Airalo as it works great and is relatively inexpensive.

Make sure you are prepared for your nothern Wyoming raod trip. Download a packing list today:

Here are some other related Wyoming posts:

Unique Places to Stay in Wyoming

Best Hikes in Bighorn National Forest

Day Trip Through Yellowstone

Easy Hikes in Yellowstone

Things to do at Devils Tower

Wyoming Road Trip Packing List

Planning a trip can be a fun experience and Wyoming did not disappoint. If you would love some help planning your trip, I offer custom planning services and would love to help you!

We saw and enjoyed so much on our northern Wyoming Road Trip! Always remember to connect with nature, because most of it deserves that appreciation.

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    1. It truly was one of the best destinations we’ve been to and can’t wait to go back

  1. I’ve only been to Devils Tower, so there’s so much more in Wyo,ing I need to see!! Bighorn Canyon looks beautiful, and of course Yellowstone is a must. I love how you included places I’e never heard of before.

  2. WOW, this is the perfect Wyoming road trip! I’ll be saving this for future reference as it has all the top places on my Wyoming bucket list!

  3. This sounds like a great road trip itinerary. We’ve been to 3 of these spots, look forward to adding the others to our summer travel list.

  4. Wyoming sounds like a super fun place to visit. As a general rule of thumb, I’d like to visit a place when there isn’t much tourist croud and hence, I’d have to plan my trip around the March to May months of this year. Awesome read!

  5. Never thought of Wyoming as somewhere to vacation to, but it looks amazing! Will have to add to my bucket list!

  6. There are definitely some parts of Wyoming that are more amazing than others. If you can drive north, you’ll find some awesomeness.

  7. I’m from Colorado and love Wyoming! Great blog and there are several places you mentioned I didn’t even know about.

  8. Great list! Devil’s Tower has been on my NP list for a while…adding it to the 2025 file!

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