The Rise to Fall

Bradford Brinton in fall1

Most Wyoming natives find the fall season most attractive and anticipated of all. Fall drives are a popular weekend excursion from mid to late September until early winter winds and snow clear the trees. Here are some favorite romps and stops along the way.

A dusk drive through Grand Teton National Park. Good roads with great herds of elk visible at several locations. They are in what’s called “the rut” during which males bugle and spar for dominance. The enduring females stand by with patient acceptance. A must-stop to gather the latest information on fall colors and best wildlife viewing ops is the magnificent visitor center at park headquarters in Moose.
Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway

The national forest system got its start in Wyoming and fall is its heyday. Some drives you will want to consider include: the Snake River and Hoback canyons (Hwy 89-26) & Teton Pass (Hwy 22) in the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Jackson; Cody to Yellowstone (Hwy 14-16-20) & Chief Joseph Scenic Highway (Hwy 296) in Shoshone National Forest – the first national forest in the U.S.; French Creek Rd, Barber Lake Rd, Snowy Range Scenic Highway (Hwy 130) – great stops for picnicking and easy hikes. And Vedauwoo Recreation Area all in the Medicine Bow National Forest near Laramie.
Bridger Teton National Forest
Shoshone National Forest
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland 

Aspen Alley deserves sole mention because of the unique canopy formed by towering aspens. Prime fall viewing can be short-lived once colors brighten. The turn is a simple jaunt off of Highway 70 west of Encampment. Make time for a tour of the Grand Encampment Museum where features include an Old West copper mining town, forest service fire tower (delectable views), and a two-story outhouse. Don’t miss the town of Saratoga were essential stops are the free hot springs pool and the historic Wolf Hotel.
Carbon County

Sinks Canyon State Park located south of Lander in Central Wyoming on Highway 131 offers another one-of-a-kind experience in addition to a luscious fall drive. A strong flowing river swirls down the canyon and disappears into a large cavern only to emerge a quarter mile away in a calm pool filled with dozens of visible trout churning amongst one another at a place called “The Rise.”  Fish food is available there for a couple of quarters. Take the loop road up and over to the historic South Pass/Atlantic City area. Check out the state historic site (South Pass City) and the mercantile in Atlantic City, population 39.
Wind River Country

Bighorn National Forest offers a stunning contrast of stone and leaf in several scenic drives. Highway 16, also known as the Cloud Peak Skyway, connects the city of Buffalo and the town of Ten Sleep, with breath taking views. The Bighorn Scenic Byway, Highway 14, connects the cities of Sheridan and Greybull with just over 40 miles of mountain beauty.  Highway 14A, Medicine Wheel Passage, includes a sharp rise from Bighorn Basin near Lovell through high alpine meadows at Burgess Junction before joining the Bighorn Scenic Byway.
Bighorn National Forest

Throughout the year, the contrast of the red rocks and green foliage make Wyoming's Black Hills and the Devils Tower area a sight to behold. In the fall, though, the oranges and reds of turning leaves combine with the hills for a fiery effect. The area offers easy drives and a number of foot paths for any level of hiker.
Black Hills National Forest
Devils Tower National Monument

Take a moment to stop and stretch your legs at one of these family-friendly events along the way:

  • Encampment Copper Days Festival - See antique tractors, watch tractor pulls and dance to the music of The Polka Nuts at this family favorite event.
  • Cheyenne Greek Festival - Satisfy your craving for authentic greek food, attend a flea market, go to a Greek taverna and enjoy music and dancing. 

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