Thermopolis, 132 miles northwest of Casper
Looking to relax? More than 8,000 gallons of natural hot spring water flow over Hot Springs State Park's colorful riverside terraces daily. Soak in the soothing waters at the free public bath house, or seek out the park’s herd of bison, often grazing in the pastures near Monument Hill, on an early day hike.
If you’re traveling with kids, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center is a must-visit. Through mid-September, visitors can participate in an active fossil dig (advanced reservations are required). The world-class museum also features a Hall of Dinosaurs home to a Supersaurus named Jimbo, one of the largest mounted dinos in existence.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, 114 miles southeast of Billings
Straddling the border between Montana and Wyoming, the best way to reach the country’s third-largest canyon from Billings is via US-310 though Lovell, Wyoming. The southern portion of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area includes high desert, juniper and spruce forests, and the waters of Bighorn Lake, as well as four historic ranches that are now in the hands of the park service. Visitors can wander among their grounds, including one once belonging to novelist Caroline Lockhart, and learn about the legacy and mysteries of the open range. It also boasts 12 miles of hiking trails, ranging from the easy quarter-mile Two Eagles Interpretive Trail to the 4.6-mile round-trip Skyes Mountain Trail, which culminates with mountain views overlooking the Bighorn Basin. The area is home to the largest herd of wild horses. Swing by the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center in Lovell for maps and updated viewing suggestions.
Back in Lowell, Hidden Treasure Charters runs two-hour scenic boat tours into the canyon from Horseshoe Bend Marina (also a great spot for a picnic lunch and swimming). Guides bring the local ecosystem to life while passengers keep an eye out for bighorn sheep on the surrounding cliffs.
Heading home along US-310, make a pit-stop at the Bull Pub in Cowley for delicious bites of herbed grilled chicken or fish and chips.