A journey across southern Wyoming takes you through a wonderfully diverse landscape, from the wheat fields of the southeast to the mountains of the Snowy Range to the stark and sometimes hauntingly beautiful Red Desert, where wild horses still roam freely.
Cheyenne, the largest city in Wyoming and the state capital, is the cornerstone community at the eastern edge of the state and host to the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo. Evanston, a town settled by railroad workers in 1869, anchors the western edge of the state. In between are the cities of Laramie, Rock Springs, and Green River, all of which owe their origin to the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.
Several smaller communities with unique museums, access to diverse recreational opportunities, and one-of-a-kind personalities lure travelers away from I–80, the main route through the region. Medicine Bow has a rich cowboy heritage portrayed in Owen Wister’s 1902 Western novel The Virginian. Saratoga has a resort flavor and some of the best dining and lodging of any small town in the state. Encampment and Baggs are little, slow-paced, historically rich towns. In these and other towns across the region you can travel back in time by attending re-creations of mountain-man rendezvous, cowboy gatherings, and other historical events.
Once covered by an ocean and now rich in fossils, southwest Wyoming’s Red Desert, or Little Colorado Desert, draws people in search of solitude (there’s plenty of it), pioneer trails (more miles of 19th-century overland emigrant trails than anywhere else in the country), and recreation ranging from wildlife-watching to fishing and boating on Flaming Gorge Reservoir, south of the town of Green River. The region is rich in history as well: here John Wesley Powell began his 1869 and 1871 expeditions down the Green River, and Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez constructed the trading post of Fort Bridger, now a state historic site. And all across the region, evidence remains of the Union Pacific Railroad, which spawned growth here in the 1860s as workers laid the iron rails spanning the continent.