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The 8 Best State and National Parks in Wyoming

Here's what you need to know...
  • Wyoming has the lowest population in the United States but is the tenth largest state in square miles
  • The state is called Big Wyoming because it’s home to 12 state parks and another three national parks
  • Be sure to check the rules in state parks because they are different than rules in national parks
  • National parks are located in mountainous areas; it’s important to prepare before driving through them
  • Make sure that you always have an emergency kit with you so that you’re not in danger if you’re stranded at a park

The state of Wyoming is no stranger to state and national parks. With the smallest population in the nation (585,501), it’s surprising to learn that much of the 97,818 square miles of land in the Cowboy State is dedicated to parks for conservation or recreation purposes.

Wyoming has so many parks since this state, as small as the population might be, is the tenth largest in square miles.

If you are a part of Wyoming’s small population and need better auto insurance, compare at least three to four policies today! Enter your ZIP code above to find the best rates for you!

Parks in Wyoming

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If you’re not convinced that Wyoming is the place to be for park goers and outdoorsy individuals, it’s time to take a look at just how many parks you can visit as a local or even someone who’s passing through the area.

There are currently 12 state parks and an additional three national parks to choose from, each with their own amenities and unique sights. Here is each state park by name:

  • Beaver River State Park
  • Boysen State Park
  • Buffalo Bill State Park
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Edness K. Wilkins State Park
  • Glendo State Park
  • Guernsey State Park
  • Hawk Springs State Recreation Area
  • Hot Springs State Park
  • Keyhole State Park
  • Seminoe State Park
  • Sinks Canyon State Park

– National Parks in Wyoming

The primary difference between state parks and national parks is who owns the land and maintains the conservation area.

State parks are owned by the state government, and they operate under a different set of governing rules than federal lands. They are present to earn the state revenue.

On the other hand, national parks are owned by the American public since the public owns all federal lands. Everyone has a personal stake and a say in how a national park is maintained and cared for, including:

  • Wilderness areas
  • Scenic areas
  • Rivers
  • Recreation areas
  • Federally-funded wildlife preserves

No matter the difference between the areas, they are beautiful nonetheless since both state governments and federal governments dedicate a budget to maintaining state-owned and publicly owned land.

Here are the three national parks located in Wyoming (you’ve probably heard of them):

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

– Why visit a park in Wyoming?

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The American culture is typically focused on staying busy.

Even when Americans travel, there’s a huge reliance on electronics and technology. This reliance on advanced technologies has shifted the focus from nature to materialistic things, which has created a wedge between people in developed nations.

So many people want to visit foreign lands with breathtaking views. These are the same individuals that don’t realize what’s right under their nose. The U.S. is home to some of the most expansive and stunning parks in the world, especially in the west.

Wyoming is one of the target destinations for millions of nature lovers each year.

If you want to see views that you’ll never forget, you have to visit some of the best Wyoming parks at least once in your life. From the wildlife and the landscape to the open skies and hiking opportunities, it’s the place to be.

See bison in Yellowstone or hawks flying overhead Grand Teton. There’s something to amaze you on land, in water, and in the skies above.

The 8 Best Parks in Wyoming

Some parks in Wyoming have a better reputation than others. As you’re trying to map out where you’d like to visit, you have to consider what your interests are and what there is to do.

Some parks are strictly for sightseers and hikers, and others offer fishing and camping.

Here are the top choices for visitors from all over the globe:

#1 — Grand Teton National Park

Area: 480 square miles (310,000 acres)
Established: 1929
Highlight: Home to the Teton Range which is a popular destination for mountain climbers

Grand Teton National Park is the second largest park in the state and comprised of 310,000 acres of land. Surprisingly enough it’s only 10 miles from the largest park, Yellowstone.

The park is named after the largest mountain in the Teton Range, which has formed its unique shape from being carved by glacial activity. If you’re concerned with more than just the beauty of the range, there’s plenty to do here.

Grand Teton is perfect for adventure seekers and conservationists who want to see fruits of their labor firsthand.

If you’re a skilled climber, you can brave the easily accessible mountains. Amazingly enough, you get to choose your skill level and don’t need a permit to climb.

In addition to mountaineering, the park is home to:

  • Overnight camping
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Hiking trails
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Cross-country skiing in the winter

If you plan on camping in this national park, bring a tent.

There are five different campgrounds, but the most popular options are Gros Ventre and Colter Bay. These two sites do accommodate recreational vehicles. Other smaller sites throughout the park only accommodate tents.

#2 — Sinks Canyon State Park

Area: 190 square miles
Established: 1970
Highlight: The Sinks geologic formation where river meets limestone cavern

The Sinks Canyon State Park visitor center is open to visitors year-round from 9 am to 6 pm. Here, you can learn about the park’s history and join members of the community for children’s activities.

If you’d prefer to venture out, you can visit the canyon’s world famous sinks where the river disappears and then reappears. If you want to hike, fish, climb and see habitats of wildlife around the area, you’re free to camp at the Sawmill or Popo Agie Campgrounds.

Sawmill is located right on the mouth of the canyon but has a few sites. The Popo Agie site is located about a mile from the water and shaded by trees. Residents pay $6 per night to camp and non-residents pay $11.

#3 — Yellowstone National Park

Area: 3,472 square miles (2,221,766 acres)
Established: 1872
Highlight: Largest geyser field in the world and home to hot springs

Yellowstone is probably one of the most recognizable names you’ll see on this list. It’s the largest park, and because of that, it has the most amazing geographical sights that you may not be able to see anywhere else in the world in one setting.

Yellowstone National Park is a photographer and nature lover’s dream.

At Yellowstone, you can see the largest array of geysers and thermal hot springs. Another spectacular sight to see is the volcanoes that erupt under muddy water. They aren’t scary or dangerous volcanoes, but they are amazing to see.

If wildlife is more your style, you’ll see elk, bison, black bears, grizzlies, wolves, coyotes, antelopes, and deer.

You have several options if you want to stay for a week or weekend. If you like to rough it, there are five concession-operated campgrounds and 1700 sites.

If you’d prefer to stay indoors, there’s also the option to stay at one of the nine hotels or lodges that are located within the park. Prices vary based on the site or hotel.

#4 — Curt Gowdy State Park

Area: 1,371 square miles
Established: 1971
Highlight: 35 miles of trails for biking, horseback riding, and hiking

Named after native sportscaster Curt Gowdy, this state park has become a popular destination for mountain bikers and hikers who want to ride or hike through the epic trail system developed as part of the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s trail improvement project.

While all activities involving trails are popular at Curt Gowdy, there are plenty of reservoirs where fishers can come to catch rainbow trout and salmon. Crystal Reservoir is also a great place for boating and other water activities.

Stay overnight at Camp Russell or the Tumbleweed and make a trip of it. You can even camp with your horses at Curt Gowdy.

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#5 — Hot Springs State Park

Area: 100 square miles
Established: 1897
Highlight: 6.2 miles of hiking trails and free access to the State Bath House

While it is smaller than most of the parks that have made the list, Hot Springs State Park is an excellent choice because of how unique it is.

You can’t go to this state park without at least visiting the hot springs that constantly flow and stay at 135 degrees all the time.

As if it wasn’t enough to see the hot springs, you can even bathe in them. At the State Bath House, which is free to enter, you can bath in a hot spring that’s moderated to 104 degrees and offers bathers several therapeutic benefits.

The Bath House is open 8 am to 5:30, but be aware that there is a 30-minute limit to sit in the healing water.

#6 — Keyhole State Park

Area: 14,720 acres
Established: 1952
Highlight: Popular destination for fishing because of its vast marina

Do you feel like catching fish? If your idea of a getaway is to cast the rod or take out your boat, this is the place for you.

The entire square mileage of the park is comprised of the lake and land surrounding it.

You can catch smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and catfish all year round and camp at one of the nine campgrounds that can be accessed by RV.

#7 — Glendo State Park

Area: 9,930 acres
Established: Unspecified
Highlight: Known for water activities during summer and ice fishing during winter

If you want to visit Glendo State Park, there’s plenty for the whole family to do.

The lake creates the perfect setting for fishing in the spring and summer and then the perfect destination for ice fishing once the water freezes over.

The Sandy Beach isn’t quite a beach, but it will feel like one to the kids. Camping overnight is available all year long.

#8 — Guernsey State Park

Area: 13.44 square miles
Established: 1939
Highlight: Home to the Oregon Trail Ruts boating and fishing

If you’d like to travel down an expansive trail system one day and then fish for rainbow trout the next, this is a great option. It’s a smaller state park, but it offers all of the amenities you would find in larger recreation hot spots.

Just remember that the reservoir does affect fishing twice per year so try to avoid booking camp sites during these periods.

Driving Safely in State and National Parks

If you’ve ever driven through a national park that’s located in the mountainous region of the U.S., you know how dangerous the windy roads can be.

Before you head off to set up your campsite, you need to be prepared in every possible way. Here’s what you need to do:

– Have the Right Coverage

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You must carry auto insurance on any car that you own. If you’re going to rent a car, be sure that you elect to have sufficient supplemental insurance so that you can pay for any claim you need to file because of a loss.

If you’re using your existing policy, do that following:

  • Review your coverage limits to see if they are sufficient
  • Review your policy and rates once every renewal
  • Compare premiums from three to four carriers to find the best rates and the most comprehensive coverage

– What to Watch Out For

Safe driving is a must everywhere, but there are even more things to watch out for when you’re driving on park roads.

It’s critical that you check the road conditions and weather forecast before you arrive at the park. You can find these conditions on each park’s official web page.

Always obey speed limits while you’re driving through the paths. They are posted for a reason and can help you stop in time.

You should be on a constant watch for hikers, cyclists, falling debris, and wild animals.

– Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car

You never know what can happen when you’re in the great outdoors. If you’re traveling during winter months, you should carry an emergency kit that will shelter you from the cold.

Make sure your kit is weather-focused based on when you’re traveling and should include:

  • Rock salt to melt ice
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow removal equipment
  • Blankets
  • Fuel for fires
  • Flashlight
  • Food
  • Matches
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Radio
  • Tow chains
  • Flares

Wyoming is home to so much beauty that you may be overcome with emotion the first time you see the historic sights. As you’re driving to the park or through the roadways, keep your eyes on the road.

If you don’t have adequate insurance, make sure to compare quotes online before you leave for your trip.

Looking to visit Wyoming soon? Enter your ZIP code below first and make sure you are fully covered before hitting the road!

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