Wyoming | A Travel Guide to the Northeast Corner
A few months ago Hunter and I had the opportunity to visit the great state of Wyoming. We have both been to Colorado countless times but we only ever went on ski trips and never got to experience what the western states had to offer outside of the mountain life. We teamed up with the Wyoming Board of Tourism, who planned a 4 day adventure packed trip that would lead us all around the North East corner of the state.
Along for the journey was Josh Dorr, a musician who was born and raised in Gillette, WY. We made friends with him in the Nashville airport and knew right away that we were in for a fun trip. We met up with Brandon Eckroth, Jenn Zeller, Kate Dearman, and our two guides who work for the Wyoming Board of Tourism, Tia and Amanda. We all hit it off immediately laughing and joking in the airport about how I hoped that my luggage would arrive because my zipper had come off my bag right before checking in for our flight in Nashville (it arrived fully intact). We piled into a car and headed for Gillette Brewing Company. I try and eat healthy but at our first stop we ate some amazing pizza and jalapeño poppers, drank beer and got to know each other and I wasn't mad about it one bit.
Hunter and I love to travel so being in a state we've never been was exciting for us. It was really cool having locals with us that planned the trip. They took us to some of the most unique features in the state which took a lot of guess work out of the planning for us.
After lunch, we got in the car and headed over to the Frontier Auto Museum. I was so excited for this stop on our trip because of my love for all things related to the automobile world. When the car obsession gets in your blood, there is no stopping it. A lot of people focus on one area of the car world but I love them all equally. From classic muscle cars to race cars, lifted trucks to precision german engineering, my love for automobiles knows no bounds. Jeff Wandler, owner and curator of the Frontier Auto Museum was bit by the same bug in the best way possible. His collection of vintage cars, gas pumps and signs is nothing short of spectacular. Everything in is collection is in pristine condition and it really makes you appreciate the times when everything was made from steel and built to last.
After we toured the museum we continued on to Buffalo / Sheridan to stay the night at the coolest ranch. The Ranch at Ucross is exactly what I imagined a western ranch to be. Featuring 31 rooms that accommodate 2-4 people per room, it is the perfect get away for families, businesses or a couples retreat. The ranch manager, Eric, served as the local guide/ historian and bartender for the night. Accompanied by his two German Shorthaired Pointers, he made us feel right at home. We ate a home cooked meal and then moved to the den to sip whiskey and listen to Josh play some of his favorite songs off his new ep and a few of his older songs. We turned in for the night and woke up the next morning to hot coffee and a delicious breakfast. Sadly we had to leave to continue on our journey but I definitely plan to go back to the ranch in the future. Their activities include horseback riding, fishing, hiking, swimming, big game hunting and bird hunting. I may have to sneak away for a week this fall with a few of my hunting buddies to chase Mule Deer, Antelope, and Elk.
I've only ridden horses a few times in my life but for some reason I feel at home on horseback. I always say that if I could live in another time period I would want to be a cowboy or a knight. After the drive across highways and dirt roads teeming with antelope and mule deer, we arrived at the Diamond 7 Bar Guest Ranch. We met one of the most interesting men I have ever met and got to listen to him talk about his passion. He is a custom boot maker who used to live in Nashville but moved away to practice his trade in peace and quiet. We left his shop and went down to become familiar with the horses. The ranch hands got us saddled up and we headed off across the pastures and arrived at one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. We stopped on a hill over looking a valley where Devil's Tower stood in the distance. My horse, Happy, tends to bite the other horses so I had to keep a little distance from the group and I didn't mind it one bit. It allowed me to take in the scenery, breath the fresh air and just relax. I love being in the right place at the right time and that happened on our way out. Fellow photographer, Kate, and I both bonded over our quirk of collecting rocks when we travel and she had to have this one rock. Driving back to where we saw it, we had to stop because the horses had been let back out to pasture and came rushing past our vehicle. I was able to get my camera up and capture a few pictures of these horses free to roam without their saddles and I was so thankful we decided to go back and get that rock.
We had lunch at a little saloon and then ventured on to Devil's Tower National Monument. This is the first ever declared US national monument and it is unbelievable to see in person. It stands 867 feet from base to summit and people come from around the world every year to climb it (I was nervous just looking at it).
After seeing Devil's Tower we headed back to Buffalo to stay at the historic Occidental Hotel. Founded in 1880 this hotel is steeped in wild west history. Sleeping in the same hotel as the likes of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane was pretty surreal. We ate dinner at their restaurant, The Virginian, and then went to the saloon to listen to their Thursday night Bluegrass Jam. After they finished playing, Hunter and I mingled with the locals hoping to listen to some stories that we wouldn't soon forget. Sure enough, Hunter met Dave Stewart, the current owner of the hotel. She has a knack for finding the most interesting person in the room and connecting with them. He shared the untold history of the hotel with us for over two hours. That night and that conversation is the exact reason that I want to travel the world. Hunter and I both love history and we live to find those people who love to tell the story of their life and the history of their city. Dave is a singer/songwriter who once walked over 1,300 miles from Gillette to Nashville to play on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
We woke up the next morning and drove to the 55,000 acre Durham Bison Ranch. We loaded into a van and went out to a pasture full of Bison and got UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with them. I still think that they got so close because they thought Hunter was one of their kind with her fur coat on. Getting to see these massive animals this close was pretty surreal. I was just waiting for the moment when our guide told us to run back to the bus because we were going to get attacked (thankfully that never happened).
After leaving the ranch we went back to Gillette to get ready for Josh's show. It was so cool getting to see him in his element in front of the people that grew up with him. Wyoming will forever hold a special place in my heart. This was one of the most insightful, adventurous and all around fun trips I have ever been on and I can't wait to make it back and see what else this state has to offer (we may or may not be working on a trip to Jackson Hole right now). Until next time Wyoming!