7 Best Outdoor Activities for Families in Wyoming

Outdoor activities for families
Outdoor activities for families

Wyoming is the quintessential Wild West, from craggy peaks to bands of wild horses.

You’ll find a land of big adventures and the perfect place to bring your children to experience the great outdoors. The ideal mix of awe-inspiring landscapes, exciting wildlife and easy access makes getting out with the little ones feel like second nature.

Must-Experience Outdoor Activities for Kids & Families

From scenic drives to kid-friendly hikes to following in the footsteps of dinosaurs, Wyoming is home to infinite possibilities for a getaway with the whole gang.

See how much fun you can have on an outdoor family vacation in the Cowboy State.

1. Visit the State Parks

A family goes on a boat at Keyhole State Park, a great outdoor activity for kids.

Wyoming’s 12 state parks occupy more than 100,000 acres of the state. From hiking and camping to fishing and paddling, the state parks have it all, including novel (but still affordable) places to stay: Glendo, Guernsey, and Sinks Canyon all have yurts, and Keyhole State Park has a treehouse where families can stay.

Warm weather is perfect for enjoying the Wyoming outdoors, and at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, your family can take a toasty (and free) dip at the State Bath House. The Wyoming Kids eXtreme program is a fun way to get engaged with the state parks, as it offers educational and historical programs and encourages kids to become Junior Rangers.

The state parks also honor the nationwide Every Kid Outdoors Pass, which entitles fourth graders and their families to free admission to national parks. Many state parks also have ADA-accessible camping and lodging options for visitors who want to spend the night.

2. Experience America’s Best Idea

Crowds of people gather outside a geyser at Yellowstone.

National parks and monuments offer incredible summer outdoor activities for kids. Two of the country’s most iconic national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, occupy the northwestern corner of Wyoming. Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, is as famous for its herds of bison and giant grizzly bears as for its geysers and colorful hot springs. The skyline of Grand Teton National Park, just to the south, is one everyone should see at least once. You can enjoy some excellent swimming beaches there, and paddling across Jenny Lake is a fun way to admire incredible views from the water.

Devils Tower National Monument, across the state in northeastern Wyoming, is a fascinating cultural site with plenty of short, kid-friendly hikes, interpretive signs and abundant wildlife (including porcupines).

Wyoming outdoor lands managed by the National Park Service also have numerous paved paths with interpretive information, making them accessible to folks of all abilities. If your littles crave hitting even more trails, consider Rainbow Terraces at Hot Springs State Park, where the whole family will enjoy manageable terrain with an incredible natural backdrop.

Fossil Butte National Monument in southwest Wyoming is filled with fossils of fish, alligators, bats, turtles, small horses, insects and many other species of plants and animals, all available for you to view. (It’s one of the largest freshwater fossil deposits in the entire world!) If your family is interested in more recent history, Fort Laramie National Historic Site takes you back to the 1800s.

The site was initially a fur trading post when founded in 1841, catering to travels heading west. The U.S. military purchased it eight years later to support soldiers in the area.

3. Visit the Wild West

The Museum of the American West is a lively destination for kids.

Nothing is more evocative of the Old West than a cattle drive, and nothing says Wyoming outdoors like taking one for a family getaway. Experience what the cowboys of yesteryear saw by staying at one of the state’s many dude ranches, where you’ll have a chance to unplug from TV and video games and see the frontier as its early settlers did.

Red Rock Ranch in Kelly

At the Red Rock Ranch in Kelly, kids get to choose a horse they’ll tend to during their stay, and there are tons of summer camp-style games to play.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Laramie

Laramie’s Vee Bar Guest Ranch loves to host kids of all ages, and they’re big on roasting s’mores and floating the river.

The 7D Ranch in Cody

The 7D Ranch in Cody has special programming for kids ages three to 12; they’ll learn all about Wyoming’s ecology and the connections between ranching and the natural world.

Goosewing Ranch in Kelly

Becoming a genuine frontier-era cowboy is one of the best outdoor activities for kids. Goosewing Ranch in Kelly has a wonderful roster of activities to help them feel the part, including archery, roping and canoeing.

4. Be a Paleontologist for a Day

Only 14 states can boast an official state dinosaur; in Wyoming, it’s the triceratops. The state has one of the richest fossil records in the country, and many of those remains are well preserved on Wyoming’s tens of millions of acres of public land that make the state perfect for outdoor family vacations. The best part? Paleontologists aren’t the only ones who get to have fun with prehistoric creatures.

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis

The fascinating Wyoming Dinosaur Center has 20 complete skeletons, and its nearby dig site offers kiddos a chance to play scientist for the day.

The Glenrock Paleontological Museum

The Glenrock Paleontological Museum also gives kids the opportunity to dig, and those under 12 get free admission to the museum.

Fossil Butte National Monument in Kemmerer

To see fossils in their natural environment, head to Fossil Butte National Monument, where you can walk in the footsteps of creatures from the Eocene period and see a 13-foot-long crocodile fossil. During the summer, you can participate in the Fossil Quarry Program, in which visitors are invited to help scientists look for fossils and record the findings.

5. Go Back in Time

What kiddo doesn’t love learning about pioneers and cowboys? Several historic sites throughout Wyoming have exhibits and programs teaching kids about the Old West, amounting to a fantastic outdoor family vacation.

The Pioneer Museum in Douglas

The Pioneer Museum in Douglas has a massive collection of Wild West memorabilia, and in case you’re planning a getaway on a budget, admission is always free.

Fort Bridger

Fort Bridger is a stop on the Oregon Trail, and its operational trading post is both a museum and a one-stop shop for souvenirs. (The Fort has taken extensive steps to ensure its history is accessible to all, including signing all the site’s info in braille.)

South Pass City

A visit to South Pass City is indeed a blast from the past: the well-preserved ghost town has 17 restored structures, and kids can drink a cold sarsaparilla or pan for gold in the creek.

Museum of the Old West at Old Trail Town in Cody

If visiting a genuine pioneer town with actual buildings, wagons and other artifacts from that period sounds like the right summer outdoor activity for kids in your family, check out the Museum of the Old West at Old Trail Town in Cody for a hands-on experience.

6. Hit the Slopes

Summer isn’t the only season to embrace the Wyoming outdoors. You’ll find fun winter activities in Wyoming for families on the slopes, and there’s no better time to learn to ski than when you’re a kid. Our ski opportunities are some of the best you’ll find not only in the West but anywhere in the country, with resorts spread out across the state.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a world-renowned ski area known for its epic powder conditions and gnarly slopes (including blue, green, fast black and double black trails). Still, there’s more than enough terrain for families to enjoy together. They also have an excellent ski school, so you can put the younger family member in a half-day lesson and rip some laps on your own.

Snowy Range Ski Area in Centennial

For a smaller-scale experience, head to Snowy Range Ski Area near Laramie, which has a cozy, down-home feel and budget-friendly lift tickets (kids four and under are free).

Hogadon Basin Ski Area in Casper

Hogadon Basin Ski Area in Casper is another incredible outdoor family vacation option, offering visitors steep drops off of beautiful hills and runs designed for skiers of all levels and age groups.

7. Soak Up the Stars

One of the best things about having only a handful of cities is that there’s virtually no light pollution in most of Wyoming. That means it’s a fantastic place to check out the night sky while on an outdoor family vacation.

Stargazing at Devils Tower

All the national parks have dark skies, but Devils Tower is an excellent spot for stargazing, and interpretive programs will explain the ancestral history behind the constellations.

Stargazing at devils towers.

Stargazing at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir

The Flaming Gorge Reservoir, right on the Utah border, is also an exceptionally dark spot. Make your plans to coincide with one of several annual meteor showers, like the Perseids in July and August or the Geminids, which are most active in early December.

Stargazing at Vedauwoo in Buford

One of the simplest and best outdoor activities for kids is laying back and taking in the stars, and Vedauwoo in Buford is a great place to do just that from 8,000 feet up! Stretch out on climbing rocks and enjoy an unforgettable view with the ones you love.

Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with the Wyoming Office of Tourism.