Photo: Gary Kunis

Wyoming’s Wind River Country Makes for the Ultimate Western Road Trip

Wyoming Insider Guides
by Anna Staropoli Mar 8, 2023

Wyoming, in many ways, is still the Wild West. In the summer, the state entices tourists with blooming trails, mountain panoramas, and open-window road trips. But head southeast of Yellowstone, and you’ll understand why Wind River Country is an all-season destination — including during the coldest months — thanks to vibrant badlands, reservations that roam with bison, and plenty of small town charm.

@matadornetwork Get ready to explore Wyoming's Wind River Country like never before! From outdoor adventures to historical landmarks and incredible wildlife – this region has something for every type of traveler 🙌 🎥 @astaropoli #wyoming #windrivercountry #wyoming ♬ original sound – Matador Travel + Adventure

Things to do in Wind River Country Wyoming

wyoming road trip dubois

Photo: Tia Troy

History and gaming at Wind River Hotel & Casino

Learn about the land — and play slots — at The Northern Arapaho Experience Room. Located in the Wind River Hotel & Casino, this intimate museum dives into Northern Arapaho history through various artifacts, images, and stories. Call ahead of time and you can tour the museum with Arapaho elders as your guides. You’ll learn all about Arapaho history, both past and present, and gain a deeper understanding of your surroundings. Both Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone people reside on the Wind River Reservation: one of the country’s largest.

Wind River Hotel & Casino: 180 Red Wolf Place, Riverton, WY 82501

Wander around Lander

lander wyoming

Photo: Tia Troy

Art lovers — and shoppers — rejoice. Staying warm in the winter is all about moving those muscles, but you’ll be tempted to pause all along Lander’s main street. Start at the Lander Art Center and go forth from there. Colorful murals of Wyoming’s wildlife adorn brick buildings, while nature inspires the paintings inside local shops. Make sure to stop by Alchemy, a cooperative of artists who make and sell scenic landscapes, one-of-kind jewelry, and intricate ceramics, among other handmade creations.

Lander art district: 258 Main St, Lander, WY 82520

Meet Wyoming’s bison

According to the Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative, bison aren’t livestock; they’re wildlife — and you can see them for yourself. The initiative, which launched last year, aims to reintegrate buffalo into the culture and diets of tribal communities. Both Shoshone and Arapaho bison reside on the initiative’s land. Visitors are welcome, though you should reach out well in advance.

Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative: 10929 Hwy 26 Kinnear, WY 82516

Sinks Canyon State Park

sinks canyon wyoming

Photo: Wind River Country

Wind River Country’s scenery is an attraction in and of itself. Perhaps no place better exemplifies the glory of Wyoming’s wilderness than Sinks Canyon State Park. Here, a snowshoe across the suspension bridge transports you into the region’s very own Narnia. If hiking isn’t enough of an activity, the park is also great for rock climbing and wildlife-spotting. For even more views, stop by the visitor’s center down the road.

Sinks Canyon State Park: 3079 Sinks Canyon Rd, Lander, WY 82520

National Museum of Military Vehicles

Whether you’re a war buff or remember little from high school history class, this is one museum you won’t want to miss. Billionaire Dan Starks turned his personal vehicle collection into a sprawling museum that warrants more than a pitstop. It’s for this reason that tickets come with two-day access. Short on time? Don’t miss the Vietnam exhibit, which takes a multimedia approach to history. Or, take Starks’ guided tour, where the past comes to life object-by-object and story-by-story. Once your legs tire, stop by the museum’s canteen for a snack.

National Museum of Military Vehicles: 6419 US-26, Dubois, WY 82513

Snowmobile at Togwotee Mountain Lodge

sledding wind river country wyoming

Photo: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Snow goes with winter like speed goes with snowmobiles, and at Togwotee Mountain Lodge, there’s no shortage of any. The lodge offers snowmobile rentals as well as guided snowmobile tours of the area’s 600 miles of trails. While snowmobiling tends to favor thrill-seekers, beginners need not steer clear; the trails range in difficulty, while the snowmobiles are especially beginner-friendly. Hold down the throttle, and you’ll feel the wind of the Winds — and see the scenery in no time.

Togwotee Mountain Lodge: 27655 US-26, Moran, WY 83013

Where to eat and drink in Wind River Country

Bison, steak, and shrimp frequent menus across the region, as do pasta dishes that incorporate each of the above. In the Winds, you’ll find charming cafes, hip lunch joints, and bison-themed restaurants that do food just as well as they do ambiance.


Brown Sugar Coffee Roastery: There’s no need to grab your coffee to-go. Brown Sugar Coffee Roastery is a deceivingly spacious cafe decorated with local artwork. Equally creative, the food ranges from open-faced BLT and beet bagels to spruced-up salads and croissant sandwiches. The roastery opens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can fuel up for the day — or wind down for the night — however and whenever you choose.

Brown Sugar Coffee Roastery: 203 E Main St, Riverton, WY 82501

Sweet Surprises Gourmet Cupcakes: What’s a road trip without snacks? This cupcake shop on Riverton’s main street offers more than cupcakes, with options that suit any kind of sweet tooth. The lemon bars are enough to convert even the most avid of chocoholics into a citrus fan, though the chocolate cupcakes certainly warrant a taste. After all, you can’t stop in a cupcake shop without grabbing a cupcake … or two, for the road.

Sweet Surprises Gourmet Cupcakes: 221A E Main St, Riverton, WY 82501


The Middle Fork: For a restaurant with “fork” in the name, there’s a surprising amount of finger food — and that’s a good thing. The fried chicken sandwich comes ultra-crispy and flavorful, with a spiced sriracha sauce. Although the Middle Fork is open for breakfast and the occasional dinner, lunch is the best time to order fries. Ask for a side of fry sauce; it’s a Western classic for a reason. With a laid-back vibe, The Middle Fork is a perfect stopping point — or, rather, middle point — during your road trip.

The Middle Fork: 351 Main St, Lander, WY 82520

Lander Bake Shop: Lander’s main street may not be large, but the menu at the Lander Bake Shop doesn’t skimp out. You can start your day with a drink of your choosing, whether you’re a fan of chai or can’t function without your morning latte. The scones come in a variety of flavors, as do the bagels and cream cheese.

Lander Bake Shop: 259 Main St, Lander, WY 82520

Cowfish: Mere steps from The Middle Fork, Cowfish has a menu as fun as its name. The restaurant boasts an extensive beer and cocktail list, so start with your preferred drink. While you can order plenty of cow and fish entrees, the pastas are the true stars; try the penne with cow tenderloin tips, ravioli with bison, or spaetzle with sirloin.

Cowfish: 148 Main St, Lander, WY 82520


The Lone Buffalo Steakhouse: Located on main street Dubois, this steakhouse is all about the animals — both those on the menu and those on the wall. You’ll dine beneath bison, moose, and elk heads as you feast on salad, steak, and your choice of potato. The standout of the meal, however, isn’t any one entree, but the honey butter that accompanies the fresh, warm rolls. You’ll want to dip straight into the butter, no knife necessary.

The Lone Buffalo Steakhouse: 120 E Rams Horn, Dubois, WY 82513

Where to stay in Wind River Country Wyoming

Camping at Sinks Canyon State Park

sinks canyon yurts winter

Photo: Melanie Hoefle

If camping in the winter sounds extreme — not to mention cold — a yurt rental at Sinks Canyon State Park may very well change your mind. Not far from Lander, the park lets you embrace the vistas of camping with all the ease of glamping. The yurts can sleep between six to 10 people and come with either one or two bunkbeds, as well as a heater, futon, grill, porch, and picnic table. The park’s four yurts are available for rental year-round. To make matters even easier, you can park mere steps from your accommodations and save the hike for the on-site trails.

@epic.stays 🎥 @astaropoli shares her affordable yurt #glamping experience inside📍Sinks Canyon State Park in #Wyoming #WindRiverCountry #wyomingtravel #yurtstay #budgettravel ♬ Here with Me (Live) – Rizal Fahmi

Sinks Canyon State Park camping reservations

Crooked Creek Guest Ranch

Located in Dubois, this 17-cabin ranch stretches more than 8,000 feet into the Wind River Mountain Range. Both the Shoshone National Forest and Togwotee Mountain Lodge are within driving distance, though you’ll have everything you need on-site. Each log cabin comes with both modern amenities — a coffee maker, shower, Wi-Fi, and heater — and creative finishing touches. Think: horseshoe coat racks, animal-patterned lampshades, tree-inspired toilet paper holders. The lodge boasts a restaurant and bar, so you can end a day of snowmobiling with a bowl of Buffalo bolognese. Depending on your timing, you may even spot the ranch’s resident moose, Lucy, poking around the lodge.

Crooked Creek Guest Ranch: 76 Fir Rd, Dubois, WY 82513

How to get to Wind River Country

Flying into Riverton is your best bet for direct access to Wind River Country. The airport offers one flight daily to and from Denver. Alternatively, you can fly into Jackson Hole or Casper and drive to the Winds.

Once there, snowshoes can only get you so far, so a car is key. You’ll want to arrange your transportation ahead of time. In Riverton, you can rent a car through Priceless. You can also book a taxi or another form of transportation via the Central Wyoming Airport.

As for driving conditions, the roads are well-maintained and mostly clear, even in the winter. You can drive at your own pace and stop for pictures along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for moose, deer, and the occasional bighorn sheep.

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