The second-highest US state, Wyoming is dry with a cool climate. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 37 degrees (Celsius) with nights in the single digits (it can snow in the mountains in summer). Away from the mountains July ranges from about 26 to 32 degrees. Spring is mild, and autumn cool with occasional snow. Winter brings bitter winds, below-zero temperatures, and powdery snow to the mountains.Annual precipitation ranges from less than 25cm (10 inches) to 152cm (60 inches) in the higher elevations.
When to fly to Wyoming
Summer is the peak season and when most visitors step off their Wyoming flights. Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are packed. The ten-day Cheyenne Frontier Days start in late July. Laramie draws crowds for the University of Wyoming graduation in mid-May, July 4, Cheyenne Frontier Days, and University of Wyoming football weekends. Reservations need to be made early during summer visits.
Winter draws the skiers and snow-sport enthusiasts from December to March.
Yellowstone has only a few roads open mid-December through February. Grand Teton National Park closes several entrances from November to May. However, the snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are excellent.
Cheyenne’s rates drop in winter. Jackson Hole’s rates drop from October to the first big snowfall and again from April until Memorial Day (May).
Getting around Wyoming
With no train service, few in-state flights, and limited bus service, you need a car in Wyoming. The main roads are well-maintained. However, keep in mind that you need to rent according to when and where you will be driving. If you are going off the beaten track or off road, get a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Wyoming’s speed limits are liberal, but they are strictly enforced. Winter driving requires extra considerations. Not only can you encounter whiteouts, roads become slippery and icy, and tow trucks are rare outside the towns. Take a flashlight, warm clothes, sleeping bag, and safety gear in case you get stuck or snowed in by a blizzard.
The exception for needing a car is the ski resorts. The START buses run between Jackson and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, making more than 40 stops along the way. Similarly, the Targhee Express runs between Jackson and the Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort.
Driving in Yellowstone is so popular that you can get caught in a traffic jam in summer. A great place for bicycling, you can bike the public roads and a few service roads (but not back country trails) from April to October.
Wyoming insider information
- Yellowstone is America’s first official national park and Devil’s Tower the first designated national monument. The 3,470-square mile park is home to such iconic attractions as Old Faithful, which shoots up every hour on the hour, Steamboat Geysers and Morning Glory Pool. The park also has its own Grand Canyon.
- The Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie is open to tourists. It was built in 1872 and once housed Butch Cassidy. In Rawlins, Wyoming Frontier Prison is billed as "There's a place behind bars for you". Not only can tourists sit in the gas chamber (with the door closed if you like) where lawbreakers were executed, there are spooky night tours too. The Carbon County Museum boasts a grisly exhibit, Shoes Made from the Skin of Executed Killer. Big Nose George provided the skin for those saddle shoes.
- See Wyoming on horseback: not only are there Western Chariot Races in Afton, the All American Cutter Races take place in January. Cheyenne’s Frontier Days is the largest outdoor rodeo in the world. Ten days of festivities take place in July. The Cody Nite Rodeo has been in operation for more than 75 years and takes place between June and August.
- Watch out for the jackalope: Wyoming’s mythical beast is half-rabbit and half-deer (or antelope) and the city of Douglas is its home. You’ll find the world’s tallest jackalope there, 2.4 metres (eight feet) high. There is also a big pink jackalope standing in front of the Country Store in Dubois. There are stories of the jackalope singing along with the cowboys at nighttime. Hunting season extends from midnight to 2am on June 31 each year.
- Snow: ski resorts include the world-famous Jackson Hole as well as Big Horn Mountain, Grand Targhee, Hogadon, Pine Creek, Snow King, Snowy Range and White Pine.