Touring the Byway
34 Miles | 3 Days / 2 Nights | Gateway City: Casper, Wyoming
We recommend starting your journey in Casper, a picturesque town in the heart of Wyoming. Get up close and personal with life-sized dinosaur fossils at the Tate Geological Museum, turn your gaze up to the skies at the Casper Planetarium, and take an easy hike to a cascading waterfall on the iconic Casper Mountain. Spend your first evening relaxing at a local ranch.
On Day Two, it’s time to begin the drive along the Wind River Scenic byway, at Shoshoni, a small town with big scenery. Heading north on WY-20, enjoy the views of Boysen Reservoir before stopping at Boysen State Park for wildlife viewing. Portions of the original 1908 Boysen Dam can still be seen. Then you’ll be following the Wind River to Thermopolis, home of the world’s largest mineral hot springs, where you can hear stories of the region’s people at the Hot Springs County Museum and discover one of largest fossil collections in the world at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.
On Day Three, relax at Hot Springs State Park with a soak in those famous warm waters, stroll across the Bighorn River via a swinging suspension bridge, and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the state’s resident bison herd.
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!
Providing outstanding hands-on geologic and paleontological experiences, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center displays one of the largest and most unique fossil collections in the world. It is also one of the few dinosaur museums in the world that is near a rich fossil-bearing excavation site. The Thermopolis Specimen of Archaeopteryx is the only real specimen of this genus outside of Europe.
Also a unit of Hot Springs State Park, Legend rock is 29 miles northwest of Thermopolis. The rock itself is 1,312 feet long near a vertical cliff with more than 92 prehistoric petroglyph panels and over 300 petroglyph figures. It has been a sacred site for Native Americans for thousands of years. In order to preserve and protect the site, it was acquired by Wyoming and now encompasses a visitor center and interpretive trails.
The Tate houses a collection of over 6000 fossil and mineral specimens gifted by Marion and Inez Tate. Highlights include Dee the Mammoth, an 11,600-year-old Columbian Mammoth which lived in the American West during the Pleistocene, or Ice Age, the skull of Nicole the Torosaurus, the Mesozoic Marine, exhibits featuring the underwater world that existed in Wyoming during much of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, and the Hall of Minerals.
Government Indian Inspector James McLaughlin negotiated a purchase price of $60,000 for a 100-square-mile portion of the Shoshone reservation in 1896, but the hot springs portion was ceded through an agreement that allowed them to be open to the public. Hot Springs State Park also features a managed herd of bison (feeding usually at 8:30AM); a suspension foot bridge across the Big Horn River, a mineral terrace, flower gardens, and terraces made of naturally forming travertine caused by the flowing mineral hot spring. The springs flow at a constant temperature of 135 °F which is moderated to a therapeutic 104 °F in the State Bath House.
Wyoming’s oldest planetarium is now sporting the latest digital planetarium technology, with a virtual starship, time machine, and regular programming in a full-dome presentation similar to an IMAX theatre.