Stepping off the plane to Wyoming was like stepping onto the film set for an Old Western. I half expected to turn the corner and run into James Dean. My first trip out West in over a decade and it could not have been more magical! The dry heat, bright sun and wide skies brought me back to a childhood driving through the valleys and mountains of California. We spent our days between the old fashioned town of Sheridan and heading up to the cabins in the Big Horn National Forest. Adventures included horseback rides through pine and wildflowers, hikes around the lakes where we spotted not one but THREE moose, and front porch sitting with a boozy beverage in hand. We ate pie for breakfast, visited historic bar The Mint and stargazed at the constellations in the middle of a polo field. Wyoming has a completely different pace of life. Alongside the fresh air, there were places completely without Wifi and cell service. As someone used to the bustle and buzz of cities, I felt BLESSED to go days without hearing honking traffic or the stickiness of East Coast humidity. I’m already raring for next summer and more adventures in Cowboy Country.
Where To Go
If you’re dreaming of your own trip out to western America, it’s one not to miss! Location wise there are a few different options. Montana has stunning scenery, and I’ve heard brilliant things about Paws Up Ranch which has all the glamping amenities you could want. Utah is famed for its elevation and its sporting and outdoors community. But there’s something about Wyoming that I find so captivating and would recommend it the most. End of June to September is the best time to go, especially if you want to spend any time in the mountains. Jackson Hole draws the most tourism and has hotels and restaurants to match. Though I’ve not yet been, it looks beautiful and would make for an excellent trip. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Sheridan in the eastern part of the state is a charming place for a four or five day trip. We stayed in Sheridan, as the trip was motivated by my great uncle’s 90th birthday. He lived and worked for many years as a cowboy at a dude ranch there and he and my great aunt spend their summers there every year.
Logistics wise, you can fly into Sheridan rather than face a long drive from Billings, Montana. I especially recommend this if you travel from Europe or the East coast. DenverAir connects through Denver Airport and serves Sheridan along with a few other small towns. The jet is compact yet comfortable and has the BEST SNACKS. I’m not joking, the flight attendant served full size drinks and a selection of chips, bars, candy- you name it, they had it. United is a partner with DenverAir Connections so your airfare can be booked through them and I would highly recommend doing so. If not, you may have to recheck your bags in Denver and let me tell you that airport is massive. Car rental in Wyoming is a must to explore and go to nearby national parks and other day trips. For hotels or accommodation, The Historic Sheridan Inn was recently restored and brings plenty of atmosphere book through Expedia here. If you want to go the private route, Airbnb and Vrbo have several cabins in the area and with a quick search I found this beautiful Main Street 2 bed loft available for vacation rentals.
The beauty of Wyoming is equal parts its quintessential western heritage and its access to breathtaking nature. Western museums and traditional saddlery makers are like a trip back in time and are the perfect place to buy souvenirs like beautiful leather belts and boots which are very on trend for this fall. My belt is a gorgeous cognac was handmade by King’s which has been a western tack store in Sheridan for decades. Horseback riding can be done at local ranches, many of which also offer accommodation. In Sheridan, Canyon Ranch also specializes in fly fishing trips and Eaton’s Ranch is a working cattle ranch. Hiking and backpacking in the Big Horn National Forest is beautiful but should be done with plenty of planning: there is little to no cell phone service and the height of summer is the only safe time to stay overnight.
Any trip out West should also honor the culture of Native Americans. In Sheridan we went to The Brinton Museum which works to preserve and celebrate historic Plains Nations culture and art, as well as celebrate modern artists like Jody Folwell and Susan Folwell whose pottery explores the merging of modern and traditional Pueblo techniques. The Brinton also has a great restaurant with sweeping views of the Big Horn Mountains, and a truly delicious cheese board if I do say so myself. For any sports fans, Polo is very popular in Wyoming and The Big Horn Equestrian Center hosts matches throughout the summer. It’s far more casual than your east coast or European polo. Tailgating and denim is the style, so bring your own picnic. If you run out of activities, there’s always propping your feet up and cracking open a good book– I recommend a porch swing with a view of the spectacular Wyoming sunset and a glass of wine.