Root yourself in the cultural history of central Wyoming—from pioneers to American Indians and everyone in between—at Lander’s Museum of the American West (307-335-8778, museumoftheamericanwest.com), just off Highway 287. The Museum features a reconstructed Pioneer Village, complete with log cabins, a chapel, a livery stable, and more, with the stunning Wind River Mountain Range towering behind it. When you’re finished, head down Main Street to Lander Bar(307-332-8228, landerbar.com), established as a saloon in 1908 and later serving as a brothel and boarding house, for a burger and local beer. If the drinks put you in the spirit, try your luck at the Wind River Casino(307-855-2600, windriverhotelcasino.com), just a 20-minute drive up Route 789, or stop by and talk to local craftsman (and former professional bareback rider) Scott Goetz at Goetz Custom Leather(307-332-7504, hstrial-goetzcustomle.homestead.com/) to order high-quality, custom chaps, tack, and more.
1) If you’re looking to make a weekend out of it, don’t miss nearby Sinks Canyon State Park (307-332-6333, sinkscanyonstatepark.org), where the Popo Agie river flows into “The Sinks” underground, only to re-emerge a quarter mile away at “The Rise,” a pool abundant with trout. Pitch your tent or park your camper, then drive one hour northwest to Shoshoni, to catch a powwow at the Wind River Indian Reservation(307-332-7810).
2)While you’re there, hop onto the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway (307-332-5546) for a 40-minute drive north to Thermopolis, where you can take a dip at Hot Springs State Park(307-864-2176), constructed around the world’s largest single-mineral hot spring. Or, if you happen to be in Lander on the 4th of July weekend, hit up the 122nd Pioneer Days (307-332-3892, landerchamber.com) and the Pioneer Days Rodeo, the oldest paid rodeo in America!
To fully experience the Wind River mountains, consider a week-long stay at Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch (307-332-2995, diamond4ranch.com), the highest and most remote dude ranch in Wyoming at 9,200 feet above sea level. Explore nearby glaciers, lakes, and forests on guided horseback tours, before retiring in the evening to a family meal and a cozy, handcrafted log cabin. And of course, you’d be remiss to ignore the majestic Grand Teton National Park (307-739-3300, nps.gov/grte/). Though a slight trek from Lander, covering distance in Wyoming is just part of the deal, making this a pretty easy hop. If you don’t want to make the whole drive, you can explore either the Gros Ventre Wilderness or the Shoshone National Forest (307.527.6241, fs.usda.gov/Shoshone), the first national forest in the United States, established as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve in 1891.