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All across southern Wyoming you can immerse yourself in cowboy and Old West heritage. Some of your driving can take you along pioneer emigrant trails; you can hike or ride horses on other segments. A good place to start your explorations is at one of the two major frontier-era forts, Fort Laramie (northeast of Cheyenne) and Fort Bridger (in the southwest), that served emigrants heading to Oregon, California, and Utah. From Fort Laramie, drive to Cheyenne, where you can see one of America's most complete horse-drawn wagon collections. Continue west to learn about territorial and frontier justice at the historic prisons in Laramie and Rawlins. For a rare treat, spend some time visiting the region's small museums, which preserve evocative relics of the past. Start with the Grand Encampment Museum, Medicine Bow Museum, Little Snake River Valley Museum (in Baggs), and Carbon County Museum (in Rawlins), and then head west to tour the Sweetwater County Historical Center in Green River and Ulrich's Fossil Museum west of Kemmerer.
If you like to spend time in the outdoors, by all means take the scenic routes. From Cheyenne, follow Highway 210, which provides access to Curt Gowdy State Park. Traveling west of Laramie, head into the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountains by taking Highway 130, which links to Saratoga by way of Centennial, or take Highway 230 to Encampment and then travel over Battle Highway (Highway 70) to Baggs. The mountain country of the Snowy Range and Sierra Madres provides plenty of opportunity for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, and camping. There are hundreds of thousands of acres to explore on trails ranging from wheelchair-accessible paths to incredibly difficult tracks for experienced backcountry travelers only. The action continues in winter, when snowmobilers ride free-style across open country (rather than on trails), cross-country skiers glide through white landscapes, and snowshoers explore hushed forests. The lakes that attract anglers during summer are equally busy in winter, when ice fishing rules.
For a firsthand Western experience, stay at one of the guest ranches near Cheyenne, Laramie, or Saratoga, where you can take part in cowboy activities and ride horses. Wild horses range freely in southwest Wyoming's Red Desert, even though the area is being heavily developed for energy production. You can spot the magnificent creatures west of Baggs and north and south of Rock Springs.