Wyoming attracts visitors for its awe-inspiring national parks, as much as it does for its Wild West roots. If you’re planning a trip to the state, and you want to experience a bit of both, this seven-day itinerary is perfect for you. Visit historic sites connected to the railroads and Buffalo Bill Cody. Explore Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, and perhaps, venture to Big Horn Mountains. And then, enjoy modern comforts of tourist destinations like Jackson Hole.
Things to know about Wyoming
Wyoming is known for both its stunning natural beauty — from mountain ranges and geysers to wide open plains — as well as its connection to the Wild West. So if you’re looking for pristine landscapes and perhaps a ghost town or two, this is the state. It’s called both Big Wyoming and the Cowboy State.
It’s also one of the largest states (10th) and the least populated states in the contiguous U.S. Less than 600,000 people call Wyoming home. Of course, that’s not to say its biggest attractions, like Yellowstone National Park, are sparsely visited. In fact, Yellowstone has, on average, 3 million visitors a year.
And if you’re wondering, about a quarter of those visitors come in a single month – July.
Must-try food in Wyoming
The must-try foods of Wyoming depends on who you ask. There isn’t an official state dish, though the official mammal is a bison, so I suppose you can try bison while you’re traveling through Wyoming. Trout is also a big deal in Wyoming.
The Food Network recommends the following foods when in Wyoming:
- Trying a chuckwagon dinner (which you can get inside Yellowstone National Park)
- Prime rib (order it at Irma Hotel in Cody)
- Soda bread
- Wyomatoes (get them in Teton Village)
- Chicken fried steak
- Fry bread (AKA Indian Taco)
- Rocky Mountain oysters
- Truffles (head to Meeteese Chocolatier, located in Meeteetse, a town south of Cody)
- Buffalo Steak (order some at Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse in Jackson)
Now that you know what to look for and what to eat, let’s get to the road trip.
Seven days road tripping through Wyoming
This trip starts off in (1) Sheridan, located in north central Wyoming, before driving south west toward (2) Cody and (3) Yellowstone National Park. Then the trip heads south toward (4) Grand Teton National Park and (5) Jackson Hole. At the very least, you’ll drive about 430 miles.
Expect the drive time to take a lot longer inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
It’s a lot of driving, but you’ll enjoy some beautiful scenery along the way!
Make the most of some of your days and let others do the driving and planning: Check out these guided tours at Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
Day 1 – Sheridan
Sheridan is the perfect introduction to Wyoming – a little untamed yet hip with a beautiful “backyard” awaiting you (namely the Big Horn National Forest). My visits to the town have, unfortunately, been short each time, but I’ve always been willing to keep returning to explore more.
We have a friend in Sheridan and she keeps temping us with stories and pictures of kayaking near the Big Horn.
But, on a more subdued adventure, my kids will always remember Sheridan for the meandering Big Goose Creek located near Kendrick Park. There’s a large playground there, as well as the seasonal ice cream shop Kendrick Park Ice Cream Stand. In the summer, kids cool off in the waters and then get a cone of their favorite flavor.
Where to eat in Sheridan
Try as you might, you can’t survive on ice cream from Kendrick Park alone. A unique option is The Welcome Market Hall which opened in 2020 in a former train station. Its eclectic menu is due to three kitchens churning out unique eats ranging from Hmong lettuce wraps and fried green beans on the tapas list to a bacon cheeseburger to end all bacon cheeseburgers. My son liked the pizza there, too.
We’ve also dine at Pony Bar & Grill. It’s a popular place, but well worth the wait. And, there’s a kid’s menu.
Where to stay in Sheridan
We’ve been lucky enough to stay with friends in town. However, the Historic Sheridan Inn is just across the street from Welcome Market Hall. Buffalo Bill Cody was part-owner of hotel when it opened in 1893.
I’ve heard stories that he held auditions for his traveling show at the hotel. And, I’ve heard stories of the building being haunted by the ghost of “Miss Katie,” who’d worked at the hotel from 1901 to 1965.
Key Sheridan addresses:
Kendrick Park, 136 Bellevue Ave., Sheridan
Welcome Market Hall, 841 Broadway St., Sheridan
Pony Bar & Grill, 3 S. Gould St., Sheridan
Historic Sheridan Inn, 856 Broadway St., Sheridan
Day 2 – Cody
It’s hard to escape Buffalo Bill Cody lore in Wyoming. Cody is another closely city linked to the historical figure, and not just because it was named after him. It’s home to Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a complex of FIVE museums.
We arrived later than planned into Cody, so our visit was pretty short and did not allow for us to visit the museums. But if you have the time, here’s what I recommend:
To get a taste of the Wild West that’s associated with Buffalo Bill, make your way to Sheridan Avenue for some Western shops and other boutiques.
While there, peek into Hotel Irma, which was the hotel Buffalo Bill Cody opened in 1902 (he named it after his daughter). There’s a restaurant where you can grab a drink or meal.
In the summer, get tickets Cody Stampede Rodeo. The self-proclaimed “World’s Best Rodeo” is the quintessential Western experience, especially if you didn’t grow up in a part of the country that had any. You might even luck out and see some bull riding competition.
We went on one of the Fourth of July celebration nights, so it was extra extravagant with trick riders and finale fireworks. Fair warning: Some of the jokes that passed as entertainment were dated and uncomfortably racist.
Where to eat in Cody
For a tasty breakfast and coffee go to The Station, a restaurant that specializes in crepes and small batch, locally-roasted coffee. It’s housed in a former gas station, and embraces the location.
We grabbed pizza to-go at Pizza on the Run, a favorite with locals. We saw some of the cowboys and cowgirls from the Cody Stampede there.
Where to stay in Cody
Staying on a holiday weekend, our available options were very limited. We ended up at a motel called the Western Rose, a perfectly fine lodging and budget-friendly option that twas clean and within walking distance of Sheridan Avenue. No pool, though.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West, 720 Sheridan Ave., Cody
Hotel Irma, 1192 Sheridan Ave., Cody
Cody Stampede Rodeo at Stampede Park 1031 12th St., Cody
The Station by Cody Coffee, 919 16th St., Cody
Pizza on the Run, 1302 Sheridan Ave., Cody
A Western Rose, 1807 Sheridan Ave., Cody
Day 3-5 – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a trip all by itself and you still wouldn’t see half of the highlights. Your itinerary will likely depend on where you’re staying since the park is massive. I have a great three-day itinerary for Yellowstone!
Most likely, if you’re coming from Cody, you’ll enter the park at Yellowstone’s East Gate driving along Highway 14/16. Park entrance fee is $35 for a vehicle (or FREE if you have a fourth grader), and is good for seven days. Drive westward along toward Yellowstone Lake.
Tip: About 2 miles before you enter Yellowstone National Park along Highway 14/16, you can visit the 1904 hunting lodge built by Buffalo Bill called Pahaksa Tepee.
Most likely, you’ll find places to stop along the way to your accommodations. If you’re staying in the park, be sure to make reservations far in advance.
For the second day, lace up your hiking boots and head to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, south rim. The hike I recommend starts at Uncle Tom’s Cabin and follows a loop to Artist Point. You’ll walk along the rim of the canyon with a stunning view of the Lower Falls, toward Artist Point, and then turn to pass along Clear Lake, lunar-like mud pots, and a vast meadow.
The hike is fairly long for families but definitely our favorite among the Yellowstone hikes we took.
For your final day, wrap up with some of the park’s greatest hits, starting early morning (as early as you can manage) at Old Faithful. From there, drive to Grand Prismatic and admire the otherworldly pools along the boardwalk. As you drive southward toward Grand Teton National Park, stop wherever your curiosity strikes.
Where to eat in Yellowstone
Our visit was a unique one in that we were visiting during the early days of the pandemic, which made all dine-in options inside the park off-limits. If you visit soon, options may still be limited, but even limited, there are A LOT of dining options inside Yellowstone.
Some of the places we got take-out from included Mammoth Terrace Grill, Canyon Lodge Eatery, and ice cream from the little counter in the back of the Old Faithful gift shop (don’t worry, your kids will find it).
The cabin we stayed at did not have a kitchen, so there was no option of preparing our own food.
Where to stay in Yellowstone
We stayed at a cabin at Canyon Lodge & Cabins while visiting Yellowstone National Park. It’s a great, centrally located place – but really expensive. All park accommodations are. You should also know that there is no WiFi or television – which is a great thing for most people visiting a national park. However, I can attest that kids may or may not share your enthusiasm for being off the grid.
If you choose park accommodations, you’ll need to reserve it at least a year in advance. I reserved our cabin the day it became available.
Day 6 – Grand Teton National Park
I’ll just get this out of the way before it’s said in the comments: Without a doubt, you can spend more than a single day at Grand Teton and still not see it all. It’s a beauty of a park.
For one day, though, here’s what I’d recommend. Since you’ll be leaving Yellowstone and entering Grand Teton, it’s important to know that you can enter through Yellowstone’s South Entrance and you’ll need a separate entrance pass for Grand Teton National Park. Park entrance fee is $35 for a vehicle (or FREE if you have a fourth grader), and is good for seven days.
There is no formal entrance station for Grand Teton at that location, so if you want a park newspaper, stop at the Flagg Ranch Information Station four miles south of Yellowstone or pick up a map and more information at Colter Bay Visitor Center on the shores of Jackson Lake.
After you enter the park, head south along North Park Road until you reach Jenny Lake Visitor Center. Along the way, be sure to stop at one of the pullouts to take pictures of Jackson Lake with the Grand Tetons standing tall in the background.
Once at Jenny Lake, there’s a paved path to the lake that’s wheelchair accessible and good for young kids. For a good, kid-friendly hike, head for Moose Pond Loop Trail. You’ll walk by lakes, cross over creeks, and trek through wildflower fields.
If you’re more of a boat person, Jenny Lake is a launching point for a scenic cruise. It’s $15 for kids and $25 for adults in 2021.
Where to eat in Grand Teton
Our experience at Grand Teton National Park was similar to Yellowstone, in that the timing of our visit made for very limited eating options inside the park. We got a lot of food to go. And the cabin we were staying in did not have a kitchen, so there was no prepping of food for us either.
You’ll find a collection of restaurants just outside the Moose Entrance to the park (on the south side of the park), including Dornan’s Chuckwagon and Dornan’s Pizza Pasta Co.
Inside the park, some dining rooms are starting to reopen in 2021 but they are not all operating at regular hours. Double-check all Grand Teton restaurants’ schedules ahead of your visit.
Where to stay in Grand Teton
We stayed at Headwaters cabins located at Flagg Ranch on the far north end of Grand Teton National Park. These cabins aren’t huge but they are super convenient to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton activities. You should also know that there is no WiFi or television – which is a great thing for most people visiting a national park. However, I can attest that kids may or may not share your enthusiasm for being off the grid.
Like Yellowstone accommodations, make reservations as early as you can for these cabins.
Day 7 – Jackson Hole
Jackson, Wyoming (more often called Jackson Hole for the encompassing region) is a great place to visit if you feel like shopping or taking a break from hikes. Or, in my kids’ case, if you’re desperately in need of WiFi.
Snow King Mountain Resort is known for its skiing but if you’re road tripping in the summer, you’re still in luck. The resort has two alpine slides, a ropes course, putt putt, and a wood maze.
Get your picture in front one of the most iconic sites in Jackson are the archways into the Jackson Town Square. They’re made out of elk antlers and they’re enormous.
Where to eat in Jackson Hole
Jackson is known for many upscale dining options, but when you’re traveling with kids, most likely, you’re looking for something more casual but still tasty. We enjoyed a dinner at Snake River Brewing Co. It’s pretty family-friendly with a a kid’s menu, and we adults could pair a great beer with our dinner.
We also had tasty pizza at Pizzeria Caldera. The pizzeria is on the second floor and we nabbed a table on the balcony overlooking the busy sidewalks below.
And for dessert, what’s better than ice cream? We went to Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream, located near Jackson Town Square.
Where to stay in Jackson Hole
For the final day of the road trip, sky’s the limit! So, if you felt a little too isolated staying inside the parks, perhaps consider a luxury resort like Spring Creek Ranch located on an animal sanctuary or Elk Country Inn within walking distance of Jackson Town Square.
Snow King Mountain Resort, 402 E. Snow King Ave., Jackson
Jackson Town Square, 10 E. Broadway Ave., Jackson
Pizzeria Caldera, 20 W. Broadway, Jackson
Snake River Brewing Co., 265 S. Millward St., Jackson
Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream, 155 Center St., Jackson