Touring the Byway
80 Miles | 4 Days / 3 Nights | Gateway City: Jackson, Wyoming
We recommend starting your journey in Jackson, a world class mountain town. Learn about the region’s unique local history at Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, view one the country’s largest collections of animal art at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, experience iconic performances at Jackson Hole Rodeo, and capture a great view over the city on the Jackson Aerial Tram. Spend your first evening around the fireplace at one of Jackson’s most renowned lodges.
On Day Two, the byway begins at Hoback Junction, the confluence of the Hoback and Snake Rivers. Heading south on WY-89, enjoy the valley views on the way to Alpine, a delightful town where you can immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness of the Palisades Reservoir. At night, relax in a hot tub at a rustic resort underneath a blanket of mountain stars. Day Three is all about the charming towns found along the byway. Hear the story of the oldest surviving house in Star Valley at the Historic Baker Cabin in Etna, then enjoy lunch in Thayne, a lovely little town with an enchanting main street. Stop by Periodic Spring, one of the only mountain streams in the world that starts and stops at regular intervals, at Afton, home to the world’s largest elk antler arch. Step back in time at the Star Valley Pioneer and Historical Museum, learn the role Afton played in the Oregon Trail and the Lander Trail Cutoff at the Lander Trail Foundation Historical Center.
Reach new heights on Day Four as you traverse Salt River Pass, a scenic lookout with panoramic views of the Star Valley and the byway’s high point at 7,610 feet above sea level. Discover one of the highest densities of nesting waterfowl in the state at the Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, then continue on to Evanston, where you can explore a historic Carnegie building at the Uinta County Museum and view bison in their natural habitat at Bear River State Park.
From there, we wish you a safe passage if you’re continuing your journey on another Wyoming Scenic Byway, or a safe and pleasant journey home.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
Situated on a butte overlooking the National Elk Refuge, be inspired by more than 5,000 artists’ interpretations of wildlife, including work by Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and John James Audubon. The art chronicles wildlife in art from 2500 B.C.E. to the present. The museum houses the largest collection of work by Carl Rungius anywhere and hosts the Sculpture Trail which meanders past more than 20 wildlife sculptures on a sage covered hillside.
The main museum referred to as the “Old Seminary” features room settings with artifacts illustrating the region’s early history and displays chronicling the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in southwestern Wyoming. The Barn Museum is filled with early agricultural implements and equipment. The structures are also home to the Star Valley Historical Society Archives, and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum.
This historic center features artifacts, information, self-guided tours, videos, maps, and other materials related to the historic Lander Trail – a 252-mile route that was a cutoff of the Oregon Trail built in 1857-58. The trail began in South Pass City, passed through Sublette County, the Wyoming and Salt River Mountains, and the Star Valley, finally ending at Fort Hall, Idaho. The route shaved off seven days traveling west to Oregon. In its first year, over 13,000 emigrants made their way on the route. Portions of the trail are still passable and many stretches on public lands are marked with historical signs and markers.
Here you can tour one of the last intact roundhouses in the Union Pacific Railroad Line. Constructed in 1912, the city adopted the structure, rehabilitated and renovated it into a public use facility while keeping much of the historic character. The original Machine Shop still stands across the Plaza. The turntable, used to change the direction of train engines in the Roundhouse, is still operational, the machine shop still outfitted, a superintendent’s office and washroom, and a renovated visitor center which was previously the Oil House, make up the complex.
This 324-acre day-use park with several miles of trails is home to small herds of bison and elk. The Visitor Center features numerous wildlife displays showcasing a small portion of Wyoming’s impressive array of wildlife. The bison herd can be viewed year round.