Tag archive

tourism

AirBnb Lodgings Up 200% For Cheyenne Frontier Days; Houses Going For $1,800 Per Night

in News/Tourism/cheyenne frontier days
21507

**For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

“There aren’t many places left in Cheyenne, so now’s a good time to book,” the top of the AirBnb website reads on Tuesday morning.

With less than a month to go until the 126th annual “Daddy of ’em All,” hotels and AirBnbs are nearly booked solid for the 10-day rodeo and concert event and bookings have increased dramatically from previous levels.

The 24 available listings on AirBnb from July 22 to July 30 will cost Cheyenne visitors thousands of dollars for a weeklong stay. Even one night could cost up to $500, when taxes and various AirBnb fees are added in.

“Prices, supply and demand are all up across the board when compared to the same time in 2021 and 2019,” Chloé Garlaschi of AirDNA told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “It looks like Cheyenne Frontier Days will attract a big crowd in 2022.”

AirDNA tracks short-term rental data analytics for Vrbo and AirBnb.

Most of the available listings on AirBnb in Cheyenne are full homes with anywhere from one to four bedrooms open for visitors. These homes could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for eight days at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

“Peaceful and centrally-located place. The house has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full kitchen, 2 family rooms and laundry. Cheyenne Frontier Days park is just a little over a mile away!” a listing for a house that would cost almost $9,000 for eight days of stay reads.

“Half mile from Frontier Park! This fully furnished and equipped home sleeps 8 with three bedrooms, a queen pullout couch and two full bathrooms. Minutes walk to enjoy Cheyenne Frontier Days without the hassle of parking or getting to and from places. Includes a 2 car garage for parking (with additional front parking), outdoor patio w/ bbq and cornhole. Home will be fully functional to cook and entertain in!” a listing for a house that would cost around $9,300 to stay in for eight days reads.

Cheyenne resident Chris Karajanis told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he would be renting his home, which sleeps 10 people, and a condominium out on AirBnb for the first time this year.

“We were thinking, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ and we may end up doing this every year,” he said. “I haven’t missed a Cheyenne Frontier Days in my life and I’m 53, but also, I’m 53 and I’ve kind of done it.”

The 4,000 square foot home is being rented on AirBnb for $1,800 per night. So far, he has the two weekends booked up at his home, as well as some dates for his condo.

Next year, he may even consider renting his camper out, but he and his family will be using it during the portion of CFD when they’re in town.

“I’m not worried about the liability, because AirBnb takes care of a lot of things, plus my dad lives across the street and my neighbors are all friends,” Karajanis said. “They can’t party any more than we have. We’ll have 125 people over for Christmas, so a group of anywhere from four to 10 people will be fine.”

Garlaschi said that as of Tuesday, bookings are up 188% for the week of July 18 compared to the same time in 2019 and 40% higher than last year. Cheyenne Frontier Days was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available AirBnb listings in Cheyenne have been added over the last three years, Garlaschi said, and the supply is up by 155% compared to 2019 and up 47% compared to 2021.

“The average daily rate is also up between 35% and 37% through [the week of July 18] and [the week of July 25] compared to the same time in 2019, with a slightly minor hike when compared to 2021 data, 19% for week 29, 28% for week 30,” she said.

Even staying in a camper through AirBnb could rack up a bill of nearly $4,000, although a $500 discount is available for committing to a week-long stay.

“Come stay on the Prairie! See the Wyoming sunsets! We have our 2020 40 ft 5th wheel all set up for you and your guests to stay in right next to our home,” the listing reads. “Complete with inside privacy. Free parking. Full shower and bath. We welcome pets. The 5th wheel has two full bedrooms and a loft. All cooking and camping supplies provided including outdoor chairs. Large awning. A master bedroom with a king bed. A twin bed bunk room and a queen loft. 3 large TVs. High speed Wi-Fi. Cooler available.”

This year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days will run from July 22 to July 31 and will feature its world-famous rodeo, the carnival, food and retail vendors and concerts featuring some of country’s biggest acts, including Brooks and Dunn, Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley. Kid Rock and Nelly will also perform at different concerts during the event.

**For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Record Tourism Year, Lack Of Help Strains Wyoming Businesses

in News/Tourism/Business
12383

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s been a busy summer for Wyoming’s tourism industry. 

Yellowstone National Park is setting visitation records — in June of this year, over 938,000 people visited the park.

That broke the previous all-time high number for June visitation set in 2016 by almost 100,000.

For park gateway communities, that means business has been good. But it has also put a strain on businesses already suffering from a shortage of workers.

Ryan Hauck, the Park County Travel Council’s executive director, said he was enthusiastic about the number of people traveling to — and through — Cody.

“We are seeing record numbers all throughout Park County,” he said. “I know our guest and dude ranches are doing amazing, our attractions are doing amazing, our restaurants are full.”

Hauck said attractions and retailers in the towns just east of Yellowstone are reporting not just their best June ever, but their overall best month ever. However, Hauck admitted the high number of visitors is causing an unintended negative effect because of a limited workforce.

“You kind of get worried about, you know, that traveler experience,” he said. “Is our destination holding up to the demand?”

Restaurant owners in Cody said the demand has been taxing — especially in light of the labor shortage that has impacted small businesses throughout the country. Susan Cory has owned Peter’s Cafe in Cody for nine years, but has worked at the small sandwich and ice cream shop for over 30.

“We can’t keep up,” she said. “I’m having to double staff breakfast, because it’s that busy, so it’s making me short-staffed for our closing shift.”

According to Donna Lester at the Workforce Service office in Cody, across the region, the number of people actively looking for work has dwindled to almost nothing. 

“In June I was in five different states. I traveled to Idaho, through Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, and it is everywhere,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing – the workforce has just kind of disappeared.”

The lack of workers, coupled with the increase in tourism, means that visitor experience that Hauck referenced has definitely been impacted.

“A lot of our local businesses aren’t opening until (4 p.m.), or they’re closing parts of the day or certain days of the week,” Lester said. “You know, just today I went to meet somebody for lunch, and they had gone to three different places to try to have lunch, and either they couldn’t get in because it was packed, or because the other places weren’t open.”

So business owners like Cory are working around the clock, and closing one or two days a week to best use the staff they have.

“I normally run with 14 people, we’ve been running with nine and 10,” she said. “And they’re getting burned out, because I had two applicants, and they were both 14 year olds, so I hired both of them. I have never not had a stack of applications to go through.”

Cory’s predicament is just one example of a scenario that is playing out all across the region. Business owners who are already overwhelmed with the number of tourists who are in town are having to work extra hours — and there’s no relief in sight.

“I don’t have an extra person to cover when people call off,” Cory said. “And it’s just going to get worse in the next three weeks when we lose all our high school kids.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gordon Dedicating $6M For Wyoming Parks, Historic Sites

in News/Recreation
11511

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Up to $6.5 million of Wyoming’s remaining CARES Act funds will be used to fund expansions at Wyoming’s state parks and historic sites, Gov. Mark Gordon has announced.

This money will be used to add camping facilities to allow more visitors to spend more time outside, boosting the state’s tourism industry and addressing park overcrowding caused by the pandemic, Gordon said.

“Expanding outdoor recreation opportunities will benefit the state, and will provide an immediate return on investment,” Gordon said. “The public appreciated the fact that our parks remained open last year, providing a healthy option to relieve the stress of the pandemic. Strengthening our state park system is important to Wyoming’s long-term economic health as well.”

The funds will be used to increase overnight camping capacity at the state’s parks by 18% to meet the significant increase in demand Wyoming state parks have seen since 2020. A portion of the funds will also be used to expand day-use areas and add picnic shelters and parking space.

Wyoming state parks saw a 36% increase in visitation in 2020, which translated to more than 1.4 million additional visitors. Visitors exceeded capacity limits at most sites. 

“As Wyoming continues to be a top outdoor destination for tourists, we are seeing campsites, lodging and other amenities nearly booked for the summer, especially throughout state parks,” said Diane Shober, executive director for the Wyoming Office of Tourism. “This is a great opportunity to meet summer travel demand while continuing to offer visitors and residents alike a memorable outdoor adventure.”

Wyoming state parks produce an annual economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion, according to the preliminary draft of an economic impact study from the University of Wyoming. 

The increase in visitation seen last year is expected to continue in 2021 based on this season’s campsite reservations.

State Parks Director Darin Westby emphasized that the additional campsites and added day-use facilities will be added quickly to the parks to provide additional opportunities to visitors this summer. These facilities may initially be temporary, but will continue to be improved upon as additional funds become available. 

“We have an amazing team and they are excited and working very hard to offer these additional campsites, developed to get people outdoors and recreating to help achieve the agency’s mission of impacting communities and enhancing lives” Westby said.   

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone, Grand Teton Tourism Supports 11K Jobs, Creates $800M In Spending

in Yellowstone/News/Recreation/Tourism
11437


***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than 3.8 million people visited Yellowstone National Park last year and spent more than $444 million in communities near the park, according to a new National Park Service report.

That spending supported 6,110 jobs in the area near Yellowstone, which had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $560 million, according to the report.

The spending analysis was conducted by economists with the NPS and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Overall, about 7.1 million people visited national parks in Wyoming and spent an estimated $859 million in “gateway” regions, communities within 60 miles of a national park.

While this is the lowest amount of spending Wyoming has seen since 2014, national parks were closed for nearly two months in 2020, from mid-March to mid-May, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This spending supported a total of 11,300 jobs, generating $333 million in labor income $604 million in “value added” — the difference between the production cost of an item and its sale price — and $1 billion in economic output in the Wyoming economy. The majority of these jobs were divided among restaurants, lodging and “secondary effect” businesses.

The lodging sector had the highest amount of spending, with $310 million. Restaurants followed, making $151 million last year.

The lowest amount of tourism spending went to camping, just under $33 million.

Nationally, the report showed that $14.5 billion was spent by more than 237 million park visitors across the U.S. This spending supported 234,000 jobs nationally, and 194,400 of those jobs were found in gateway communities. The nation’s cumulative economic benefit was $28.6 billion.

In 2019, Wyoming saw $924 million in visitor spending. However, last year’s economic output was comparable to years prior, down by just $1 million compared to 2017 through 2019.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone Could Have Record Year Despite Loss of 1 Million International Tourists

in News/Recreation/Tourism
11208

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

As restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus begin to relax, changes are being seen across the country.

People can travel. Choirs can sing. Tour buses can take full loads of visitors to places like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.

But experts in the state’s hospitality industry are noticing a difference in who is traveling this year — they are all Americans.

Hospitality ventures in Wyoming such as hotels and restaurants have always expected a portion of their summer business to come from international tourists.

But not this year.

“You know, two years ago, before the whole COVID thing started happening, we were seeing right at 1 million internationals — Asian communities specifically — coming to Yellowstone and the Grand Teton area,” says Justin Walters at the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.

Tourists from Asian countries make up a large portion of the international presence in the communities surrounding Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. A report compiled by the National Park Service in 2016 showed that international visitors that year were from 25 countries and comprised 17% of total visitation to the park, estimated at 4.25 million.

European visitors accounted for 49% of the international traffic, 34% came from China and 10% came from Canada.

So the absence of those international visitors is felt, especially by small businesses who have come to rely on tour buses filled with foreign travelers.

China Town Buffet in Cody is one of the businesses that are magnets for the Asian tour buses, with the majority of those buses carrying Chinese citizens. In a post-COVID world, those buses are not in the picture this year, according to Shu Fang, a spokeswoman for the restaurant.

“Every day, I would have buses, sometimes I have three buses, sometimes four buses a day,” she said. Usually, Shu said, buses start arriving in May and go through September.

But not this year.

That doesn’t mean that China Town is deserted, by any means, she added.

“I mean like, we still operate the business,” she said. “We have tourists from our country, traveling, but we just don’t have Chinese buses. And so we’re really making less money.”

However, according to Rick Hoeninghausen with Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operates the lodging and restaurant properties in Yellowstone, Americans this summer are more than making up for the lack of international visitors.

“Domestic demand has increased because of circumstances and from where I sit, demand for trips to Yellowstone is as high as ever,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say, (American travelers have) offset any international demand that’s not there now.”

And Walters pointed out the lack of international tourists is in some ways a blessing, given the labor shortage affecting Jackson and other tourism communities.

“We just went through a big email chain of how stressed the community already is worker-wise,” he said. “I mean, no one’s willing to work, we do not have housing for the workers, and restaurants, hotels, all these businesses are very, very much overrun with tourism already. I’m not saying we don’t want it, but the thing is, there’s got to be that balance.” 

Walters said lodging properties in the area are already booked for the entire summer. And he added that a shortage of rental cars has visitors driving all the way to Salt Lake City to meet their transportation needs.

“Even our outlier communities are getting pressure – campgrounds within 80 miles of us are full that really never had filled before,” he explains. 

In a community expecting close to 5 million visitors — without Asian and other international tourists — Walters said this tourist season could put a strain on the hospitality industry.

“I would be scared to death to see what would happen if you add another million on top of what’s already coming,” he said. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Beartooth Highway: One of the Most Scenic Roads in the World Opens Friday

in News/Tourism
11077

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

There are many tell-tale signs of summer. One is the reopening of roads which have been snowed-in or snowed-under for months.

Like the Beartooth Highway which connects Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, Montana.

The plan is to reopen the highway on Friday, May 28 at 8am.

The view? Unbelievable.

Travel organizations have called it one of the most scenic roads in the world.

“A scenic summer route (the snow falls heavy and voluminous in this country), the Beartooth is arguably the most stunning road into Yellowstone. It’s worth seeing in and of itself,” writes Yellowstone Insider.

The highway, which first opened in 1937, provides a direct route to Yellowstone National Park’s Northeast Entrance.

Just because it’s open doesn’t mean it will stay open. Officials warn of rapidly changing weather. In other words, it can be winter-like in the summer.

“Conditions can change quickly, especially during spring and fall, and roads can temporarily close due to poor driving conditions. Plan to have alternate routes for travel should the highway close,” a Yellowstone National Park spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Although the clear majority of the reviews for the drive on the travel site TripAdvisor rate the experience as positive (781 out of 834 reviews rank it 5 stars or excellent), some people still weren’t pleased.

A two-star reviewer complained about the pokey-ness of the drivers.

“The majority of the time I was riding 10 to 15 miles per hour below the speed limit. Do yourself, and everyone else on the road a favor, have someone else drive or take the highway and go around. If you are a nervous driver/rider STAY OFF this road,” wrote a reviewer from Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Office of Tourism Launches WY Responsibly 2021 Summer Campaign

in News/Tourism
10833

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

The Wyoming Department of Tourism announced it will launch its second summer of the WY Responsibly campaign on June 1, encouraging all to be mindful travelers throughout the state. 

The WY Responsibly campaign is a value-based mission to educate and facilitate responsible travel by being stewards of Wyoming’s natural spaces, wildlife, communities and culture.

As the least populated state with the most room for adventure, in 2020 Wyoming experienced high visitation throughout all its national parks, monuments and forests, as well as state parks and other popular destinations where travelers could enjoy wide-open spaces. 

While interest for Wyoming continues to grow, the state still offers room to roam among its hidden gems and under-the-radar destinations throughout its nearly 100,000 square miles.

“Outdoor recreation has become even more popular over the past year with people looking for naturally social-distanced activities. With our wide-open spaces, Wyoming is an ideal destination for travelers and this summer we anticipate even more visitors will explore the state,” said Diane Shober, Executive Director of Wyoming Office of Tourism. 

“As the last bastion of the west and with nearly 50 percent of the state designated public land, it is important for visitors and residents to be mindful travelers and work together to keep Wyoming wild and free.”

The WY Responsibly campaign was initially launched as a response to COVID-19, providing safe travel tips and resources that resonated with travelers and residents alike, and led to WOT expanding the campaign into 2021 by fostering three main initiatives. 

These initiatives were created with input from 10 national-and state-level outdoor agencies and developed to address concerning behaviors each experienced last summer.

Enjoy Natural Spaces Responsibly

Resources on how to respect the outdoors, including camping and trail etiquette, outdoor safety, precautions and best practices.

Co-Exist Responsibly

Resources on how to respect wildlife, reporting wildlife interactions, fishing guidelines and gear suggestions to prepare for any encounters.

Be Part of a Responsibly Community

Resources on how to respect fellow travelers and locals, including current health guidelines, tips on supporting local businesses and how to avoid overcrowding with recommendations for destinations throughout the state and along any road trip.

The WY Responsibly campaign is a component of WOT’s award-winning tourism campaign, “That’s WY.”  Elements of the WY Responsibly campaign include local and national paid media investment, social media components and an ambassador program where WOT will select six outdoor, wildlife and community leaders and stewards to represent each initiative. State parks, national forests and other community visitor centers will have stickers or patches for visitors.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Montana Ski Resort Wants To Use Sewage For Snowmaking

in News/Tourism
10789

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Although the idea of skiing on sewage may not sound like an ideal winter vacation, a ski resort in Montana thinks it could work.

The resort is not planning on piping raw sewage down a mountain as a strategy to replace snow.

Rather, the Yellowstone Club, which is located north of Yellowstone National Park, wants to take the treated wastewater from sewage and make artificial snow with it and has asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for the OK.

Apparently the procedure, officials say, has worked out well in Europe and Australia so this wouldn’t be anything new.

The advantage of using sewage, according to resort officials, is that it would help ensure that the ski resort could open on time and would be a benefit to the local watershed.

“It’s an outside-the-box idea and it checks a lot of boxes,” the environmental manager of the club told the Associated Press.

The good news, according to state officials, is that if a skier got a mouth-full of snow after an unsuccessful turn, the snow would be safe enough to digest. That is, as long as the contamination levels stay within safe standards.

Rachelle Morris, a longtime Wyoming skier who frequents Jackson Hole Ski Resort and Grand Targhee, told Cowboy State Daily that she thinks the idea is “horrible.”

“I can’t think of a worse idea in my life,” Morris said. “The idea of using sewer water to make snow is just revolting. I don’t care how they clean it up. It’s still sewer water.”

Morris said she had a good idea for renaming the slopes at the Yellowstone Club, however.

“I love to the ski the Rendezvous Bowl and the Casper Bowl in Jackson,” she said. “They could just call theirs the ‘Toilet Bowl.'”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Tourism Declined By 25% In 2020

in News/Tourism
Wyoming sign
9097

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s tourism declined by 25% last year, but the decline was minor compared to the national decline of 45%.

“Overall the U.S. travel economy declined nearly 45%, whereas, Wyoming’s travel economy only declined 25%,” Travel Wyoming spokeswoman Piper Singer told Cowboy State Daily.

The numbers are preliminary and could change before late April, which is when all of the data is gathered and published in the department’s annual report, Singer added.

Wyoming, along with the rest of the nation, took a major hit in numerous industries, including tourism, last year due to the coronavirus. However, not all the news was bad once the first wave of the virus passed around mid-May.

Despite the pandemic shutting down the park for for nearly two months, Yellowstone National Park only saw a 5% dip in visits in 2020. The park, in its most recent visitation report, said it hosted 3.8 million recreation visits in 2020, down from the 4 million hosted in 2019.

The park saw record visitation numbers for the months of September and October, with visitor numbers in October topping 2019 figures by 110%.

Grand Teton National Park also saw record-breaking numbers throughout the fall, as did Devils Tower.

Through November, Devils Tower recorded 420,330 recreation visits for 2020, down just 7% from the same period in 2019 despite the fact the country’s first national monument was closed from March 25 through May 21 due to health and safety concerns related to the pandemic.

According to Dean Runyan Associates’ numbers provided by Singer, the state saw $2.96 billion in travel spending last year, down 25.3% compared to 2019.

Wyoming saw $286 million in state and local tax revenue from tourism, a 16.1% decline, 7.3 million overnight visitors (down by 21.5%) and 27,000 travel-related jobs in 2020.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Named Top Travel Destination by Travel + Leisure and AFAR

in News/Tourism
8795

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Vast open spaces, breathtaking landscapes and western charm are just a few reasons Wyoming has been recognized as one of “The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021” by Travel + Leisure and a top North American destination in AFAR’s “Where We’ll Go in 2021 – When We Can.”

With Wyoming’s innate social distancing, iconic road trips and destinations drawing traveler consideration, the Cowboy State topped this year’s must-visit lists. 

The January issue of AFAR featured Grand Teton National Park, while the annual list from Travel + Leisure highlighted Wyoming’s western and outdoor attractions including the 125th anniversary of Cheyenne Frontier Days, Casper’s College National Finals Rodeo and the endless adventures in state parks.

“It’s extremely humbling to see Wyoming recognized as one of the top destinations to visit this year and beyond,” said Diane Shober, executive director for the Wyoming Office of Tourism. 

“Now more than ever people have a strong desire to get out and explore the great outdoors, including more rural, less-populated destinations like Wyoming. We encourage travelers to embrace a spirit of adventure, while continuing to ensure collective wellness by pledging to adventure responsibly.”

With National Plan for Vacation Day on January 26, the Wyoming Office of Tourism offers countless inspiration and resources to plan a safe, enjoyable vacation this summer. From all-inclusive guest ranches to epic road trip routes, Wyoming will guarantee an unforgettable vacation.

To learn more about traveling safely and responsibly throughout Wyoming, visit travelwyoming.com/wy-responsibly. Travelers can share their experiences and pledge “WY Responsibly” on social media by using #WYResponsibly.

The annual National Plan for Vacation Day takes place each January to encourage Americans to plan their vacation at the start of the year and in an effort to avoid leaving vacation days unused. 

National Plan for Vacation Day coincides with the Let’s Go There initiative to encourage Americans to still plan – or even book – future vacations, or to simply keep their travel flame alive and think about their next trip.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gordon Announces Steps to Boost Wyoming Energy, Tourism, Ag

in Energy/News/Mark Gordon/Tourism/Economy
8672

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A series of steps aimed at improving Wyoming’s primary economic drivers has been proposed or endorsed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gordon on Thursday announced the actions he will take or support to improve conditions in the state’s agriculture, tourism and energy sectors.

In the area of energy production, an industry shaken by recent executive orders halting the leasing of federal land for oil and gas production, Gordon said he will pursue an “all the above” energy industry that encourages the development of new industries such carbon capture technology and rare earth production in addition to oil, gas and coal.

Along those lines, Gordon is backing proposed legislation that would grant several tax reductions to the energy sector.

“Our traditional industries will adapt and continue to provide the reliable, affordable and dispatchable power they always have, only better,” he said in a statement. “Our economic recovery will hinge on the health of these industries and their ability to adapt to changing market demands. Wyoming can continue to grow even as our mix of energy supplies evolve.”

At the same time, Gordon welcomed steps to increase the ability of the new Wyoming Energy Authority to encourage the development of non-traditional resources.

“Carbon capture and the development of carbon byproducts will be part of Wyoming’s energy future,” he said. “So too should be efforts to research extracting the rare earth elements and critical minerals associated with coal that will be needed for the batteries powering the anticipated worldwide build-out of wind and solar power.”

Gordon is also backing measures that help the state’s tourism industry, its largest employer.

He singled out House Bill 85, which would let Wyoming State Parks use money raised through entrance fees to finance a large portion of their operations and outdoor recreation rather than construction projects. The measure is expected to allow for a $1.1 million reduction in money given to the parks from the state’s general fund, its main bank account, without affecting the visitor experience.

A number of bills aimed at bolstering the state’s agriculture committee are also part of Gordon’s initiative, including one that would give the state attorney general the authority to look into antitrust matters.

The measure is a response to consolidation of 80% of the meat packing industry within four major companies. Beef producers in Wyoming have long complained the four companies have kept prices for producers artificially low.

The state now lacks the authority to investigate such charges.

Gordon is also backing HB 52, which would increase Wyoming meat products used by school districts to feed students.

The governor said he is also working with legislators to expand the state’s meat processing capacity.

“This is only a part of an ambitious initiative focused on adding value to products across the entire spectrum of agricultural enterprise,” he said. “This effort is essential to grow this key part of our economy.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming State Park Traffic Explodes in 2020; Up By 1.8 Million

in News/Tourism
6936

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

If you thought the coronavirus would force everything to grind to a halt, think again.

While the pandemic has had some devastating affects on the economy — one survey estimated that one out of every 5 small businesses have closed or will close — some sectors, like tourism, actually saw a boost.

Yes, people adjusted their routines to try to flatten the curve but that didn’t mean they didn’t go out. 

Take visitation to Wyoming state parks, for example.

So far this year, Wyoming’s State Parks have recorded 4.9 million visitors, an increase of 1.8 million over last year’s record — 34%.

Leading the way were visits to Boysen State Park in Fremont county.  Visitation numbers were 241% over the five-year-average.

Curt Gowdy State Park saw an increase of 231% over the five-year average with highs of 581% in March and 474% in April.

Seminoe State Park in Carbon county recorded a jump of 132% over the five-year average and Sinks Canyon Park in Fremont County recorded a 115% boost over the same time period.

Some visitors to this site will surely grumble and say Wyoming doesn’t need an influx of “greenies” to the State of Wyoming, but the tide is unlikely to stem.

In fact, state officials are predicting much, much, much more.

“Currently outdoor recreation accounts for 4.4% and $1.65 billion to the state’s (gross domestic product). We see no reason we can’t double these numbers in the coming years,” Darin Westby, Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resource Director, said.

Chris Floyd, from the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office, echoed those thoughts but said Wyoming “needs to do it right and we can do it through proper planning.”

“The key is to get them here, spread them throughout Wyoming, help them spend their dollars, insure they’re being good stewards of the land, and then let them go home,” he said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Northwest Wyoming Tourism Season A Mixed Bag

in News/Tourism
6880

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Cody is one of four gateway communities leading into Yellowstone National Park. 

As such, tourism is one of the top industries in Park County – and this summer was a mixed bag for the businesses that depend on visitors.

Claudia Wade, the executive director of the Park County Travel Council, pointed out that public health regulations imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus heavily impacted many businesses that rely on tourism.

“I think a lot of the restrictions that we had in Wyoming from the governor impacted our restaurants,” Wade reported. “And it impacted how our attractions operate, in the number of people they let through.” 

Dan Miller has headlined a cowboy music show in Cody for the last 16 years – and he said this year was devastating.

“I’d say we lost in the neighborhood of 90 tour buses that we didn’t get to have this year,” Miller noted. “And I don’t care who you are, you can’t take that kind of a hit and not say it doesn’t affect your bottom line.” 

Wade said outdoor recreation opportunities were hugely popular.

That popularity translated to record late-season visitation numbers for Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, which both saw records set for September visitation. Campgrounds in the region also saw high visitation numbers once the facilities opened.

But restaurants and hotels got off to a very slow start this summer.

Fran and Ken Swope own and operate the Carter Mountain Motel, which Fran and her mother built in the late 1960s. Fran said this summer was unlike anything she’s ever experienced.

“We had a lot of cancellations for May, June and part of July,” she recalled. “For August, we were just a little above last year. For September, we’re gonna be just about the same because September got busy.”

Many restaurants, on the other hand, went from zero to 60 from the time they were told they could reopen in mid-May. 

Nathan Kardos, owner of the Trailhead Restaurant, said he and his fellow restaurateurs were remarkably busy, despite the regulations that forced them to space out their tables, or move them outdoors.  

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grand Teton National Park Smashes All-Time Visitation Record For September

in News/Tourism
6848

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grand Teton National Park hosted an estimated 603,789 recreation visits in September 2020, a 17% increase compared to September 2019. 

Park statistics show that September 2020 saw the highest number of recreation visits on record for the month of September.

The list below shows the September trend for recreation visits over the last several years:
2020—603,789
2019—517,265
2018—558,788
2017—482,661
2016—492,451

In general, hiking use in the park increased approximately 54%, camping in concession-operated campgrounds increased 24% and backcountry camping increased 79% in September 2020 compared to September 2019. 

Visitors to Grand Teton National Park are reminded to plan ahead and recreate responsibly. The park highly encourages visitors to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state authorities, by maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing a face covering when in buildings and high-visitation areas outside. 

Visitor services at Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway are limited this time of year, as most facilities close each winter. Closing dates for seasonally operated facilities can be found at www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/hours.htm. The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center will remain open through October 31. Signal Mountain Campground is currently the only seasonally operated campground still open in the park. The last night available to camp there will be Saturday, October 17.

Please visit www.nps.gov/grte and the park’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information. Download the official NPS Grand Teton app for detailed park maps, audio tours, in-depth facility information and more.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming, South Dakota Partner To Promote Ultimate Road Trip

in News/Tourism
6288

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

To take advantage of people getting back on the road to travel again, the Wyoming and South Dakota departments of tourism have partnered to promote a majestic road trip through the two states.

For the rest of the month, the two states are promoting a Black to Yellow campaign, which leads travelers from South Dakota’s breathtaking Black Hills to Yellowstone National Park.

“South Dakota is open for those ready to travel,” said South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem in a news release. “Folks from every corner of the country are road tripping to South Dakota’s great places and open spaces. Our partnership with the Wyoming Office of Tourism will help expand our message and attract adventurers looking to explore the beauty of America’s most treasured landmarks.”

The two states have put together itineraries that will take road trippers to well-known attractions and to the hidden gems in both Wyoming and South Dakota, such as the latter’s Wall Drug or the former’s Devils Tower.

“Wyoming’s unparalleled wide-open spaces give travelers an abundance of opportunities to explore and to do so safely,” said Gov. Mark Gordon in the release. “Wyoming and South Dakota’s new road trip campaign will truly showcase the pioneering spirit, a rich history, and western hospitality both states have to offer.”

The digital campaign will include custom itinerary content by AFAR media and Tripadvisor to be promoted through targeted high-impact ads; audio ads on Pandora and Spotify, and targeted social media ads.

In addition, the states will partner with a social media influencer to embark on a road trip through the two states, capturing and sharing their favorite attractions and experiences along the way.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Timberline Hospitalities Hires Krista Lobera as Area Operations Manager

in Tourism
5478

Timberline Hospitalities, a Wyoming owned and operated hotel company, is pleased to announce that Krista Lobera has been promoted to Area Operations Manager.

She will continue her role of General Manager at our Torch Bearer award-winning Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lander and over-see operations of our Holiday Inn Express Rawlins, WY.

In February 2019, Krista joined the Timberline team as General Manager. She had been with the hotel for over nine years prior to Timberline purchasing the property.

Krista also served as the Director of Sales and Marketing for three years before accepting the General Manager role. She has led her Lander team to achieving the IHG Torch Bear Award for the past three years.

This is a prestigious position with a significant level of greatness in all aspects of operations from quality to excellence in customer service. We anticipate watching her lead our Holiday Inn Express Rawlins team and hotel to be award-winning.   

Krista and her family moved to Lander twenty years ago when her husband Fabian accepted the position of Chief Financial Officer with Brunton.

Krista had several years of hotel experience prior to moving to Wyoming and she definitely has a heart of hospitality. Krista and her husband are empty nesters and enjoy hiking with their dogs and riding their tandem bicycle.

Timberline Hospitalities is a Wyoming owned and operated hotel company.

Our current locations include the Hampton Inn & Suites in Buffalo, Holiday Inn & Suites and Candlewood Suites in Gillette, Hampton Inn Rock Springs, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lander, Holiday Inn Laramie, Holiday Inn Express Rawlins, Super 8 Casper by the River and Comfort Inn Casper. 

Riverton, Wyoming Balloon Rally Celebrates 40 Years

in News/Tourism
5248

The Riverton Rendezvous celebrates 40 years this July and it all starts July 11.  For the main events watch 30 hot air balloons take off from the CWC soccer fields around 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday July 18 and 19.   

The action happens quickly so get there early.  Spectators aren’t allowed to walk around the field this year, but you will still see plenty of colorful action.

With names like Sapphire Sunrise, Diamond Eyes, Confetti Pebbles, and Wild Thing you can imagine the dizzying display of colors. 

And the pilots come from all over  – Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Illinois and Wyoming.  Keep your eyes out for Beagle Maximus, the Beagle balloon.

Action Packed

Start the fun July 11th with Happy Days.  Music, fun and food will all be Downtown Riverton ending with a community street dance.  Start the Balloon Rally weekend with the Friday Night Rocky Mountain Car & Bike Night Cruise. The parade begins at 6 pm in the Sutherlands parking lot and ends in downtown Riverton for an epic street party.

Saturday after the balloon rally head to CWC South Lawn for the Annual Rocky Mountain Rebels Car & Bike Show from 8-4 pm.

Riverton Rendezvous Friday Night Cruise. Photo: Jennie Hutchinson

Riverton Rendezvous Friday Night Cruise. Photo: Jennie Hutchinson

Finish the evening with the Balloon Glow at the CWC soccer launch field at 8:30 pm and fireworks at Airport Hill at 10 pm.

Riverton Rendezvous is an action-packed weekend. Load up your family and take in the fun. Bring your lawn chair, camera and sunscreen.

Schedule

Saturday July 11

4-8 pm Riverton Happy Days- Sidwalk sales, kids activites, scavenger hunt, food trucks, chalk the walk, music jam and more.

8-11 pm Community Street Dance, Bar 10, Live Band Shuffle

Friday July 17

6 am Balloon Rally Media Day, CWC Launch Field

6 pm Friday Night Cruise Parade starts at Sutherlands and ends Downtown

Saturday, July 18

6 am Balloon Launch, CWC Launch Field

8-4 pm Car and Bike Show,  CWC South Lawn

8-4 pm Rocky Mountain Rebels AUTOCROSS, CWC South Lawn

8:30 pm Balloon Glow, CWC Launch Field

10 pm Fireworks, Airport Hill

Sunday, July 19

6 am Balloon Launch, CWC Launch Field

Please be mindful of others and some COVID-19 restrictions will apply.

For more information contact the Riverton Chamber of Commerce, 307-856-4801 or info@rivertonchamber.org

 Riverton Rendezvous Hot Air Balloon, Jennie Hutchinson

How it All Started

Riverton Rendezvous began in 1981 when the community was looking for a special event to commemorate its 75th anniversary. Bob Peck, publisher of the Riverton Ranger at that time, asked his son, George for ideas and he suggested a balloon rally. The Riverton Rendezvous was born.

Other events were scheduled and soon there was Day in the Park, Rail to Trails Music on the River Walk, Rocky Mountain Rebels Car & Bike show and the Red Neck BBQ.

Some famous people have graced the rally with their presence including Maxie Anderson who was the first balloonist to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the first to attempt an around the world flight.

Malcom Forbes brought his ‘Chateau de Balleroy”, a replica of the French Museum in France. This rally continues to be a favorite of hot air balloon pilots because of our stellar weather and the people of Riverton who welcome the pilots each year.

Despite Coronavirus Surge, More Yellowstone Lodges To Open

in News/Tourism
5215

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park is a hugely popular tourist destination, with annual visitation averaging more than 4 million people per year. 

But because of this year’s pandemic, 2020 has seen a steep decline in the number of people entering the gates. 

Part of that is due to limited lodging options, because Xanterra Parks and Resorts, the park’s main concessionaire, made the decision to keep their hotels and lodges closed for health reasons. 

But Rick Hoeninghausen with Xanterra reported that just this week, officials made the decision to open up more lodging for visitors. 

“On July 3, the Sandpiper Lodge near Yellowstone Lake Lodge opened,” he said, adding that in the coming week some rooms will be available at Canyon Lodge and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

“And then on the 17th of July, at the Mammoth Hotel, we’ll be able to open some hotel rooms,” he said.

Hoeninghausen said the mandatory use of masks by both staff and guests is one of the reasons park officials feel confident in opening more properties.

“We’re very front line,” he points out. “We’re talking to a lot of visitors from all over the place, and so it seemed like a good step to make.”

Hoeninghausen said the demand for lodging is increasing as visitation continues to rise. 

Morgan Warthin, public affairs specialist for Yellowstone National Park, said that park officials have seen a marked increase in visitor numbers since the park first opened in the middle of May.

“When we opened the Wyoming gates on May 18, we were at about 19% of 2019 visitation,” she said. “And what we know from visitation for mid-June is that we’re at about 89%.”

Both Hoeninghausen and Warthin said that upwards of 600 park employees – both National Park Service and Xanterra staff – have undergone rigorous testing for coronavirus, and so far, every test has come back negative.

Warthin says the Park Service has one overall request of its visitors.

“We are asking visitors to recreate responsibly,” she said. “We highly recommend wearing masks, and to social distance.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming State Park Camping Reservations Sold Out For 4th Weekend

in News/Tourism
5101

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Due to the continued high demand for outdoor recreation, persons looking to camp at a Wyoming State Park during the Fourth of July weekend should be aware campsite reservations throughout the state park system are sold out; however, we welcome the public to come out for the day, enjoy a picnic and recreate.

These state parks – Boysen, Buffalo Bill, Curt Gowdy, Glendo, Guernsey, Keyhole, Medicine Lodge, Seminoe and Sinks Canyon – currently have no campsites available for this holiday weekend. Hawk Springs remains first-come, first-serve and is at capacity also.

“With the 4th landing on a Saturday, we expected our camping system to be full,” Deputy Director Nick Neylon said. “The team has been working hard to get facilities ready for our visitors.”

Currently, Glendo and Guernsey both have campfire restrictions. Propane grills and stoves and charcoal grills can still be used to prepare popular camping dishes and provide adequate warmth.

These grills must have covers/lids and be within an arm’s length when lit. A variety of other imaginative ideas can help preserve the camping experience such as solar lights in the firepit.

Recreationists are reminded that possession of fireworks is prohibited at all Wyoming State Parks.

“Having full state parks is a great problem to have, however, it can come with challenges, especially during this pandemic,” said Director Darin Westby, “We implore that you help us keep the parks open by recreating responsibly as requested in our rules and the guidelines and protocols issued by the State Health Officer and the CDC”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Mike Moser & Chris Brown: Controlling What We Can In Uncertain Times

in Column/Chris Brown/Mike Moser
5099

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Controlling What We Can In Uncertain Times

Wyoming’s hospitality and tourism industry is the state’s second largest industry.  In 2019 we welcomed 9.2 million overnight visitors that spent $3.95 billion in our restaurants, retail shops, drinking establishments, lodging properties and main street businesses.  This visitor spending generated $203 million in local and state tax revenue and supported 32,750 full and part time jobs.  

Enter COVID-19.

We are now half way though 2020 and our businesses that rely on a booming visitor economy are now struggling for their very survival.  Occupancy and average daily rates for lodging properties are well below that of last year. 

Wyoming’s cities, towns and counties are seeing lower tax revenue to pay for essential services, restaurants, bars, and clubs are seeing lower volumes of customers, employees are seeing reduced hours and all have to adapt to health orders that limit operations in ways that we have never seen… or could have imagined. 

To add to an already uncertain horizon, states like Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, California and Florida have all taken steps backwards by re-closing (or keeping closed) bars, gyms, movie theaters, etc, after significant spikes in COVID-19 cases.  We cannot let this happen in Wyoming.

In a time when it’s easy to be overwhelmed by what the future may hold, there are commonsense steps that establishments and patrons across Wyoming have been and can continue to take to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our businesses open.

Restaurants and drinking establishments in Wyoming should please consider the following steps.

·      Emphasize the importance of employees staying home when sick.  This will help other staff members from being exposed and being quarantined if the illness is COIVD-19.

·      Screen employees for illness before each shift. Employees reporting illness should not be allowed to work, to prevent exposing other employees and customers.

·      Follow physical distancing guidelines among customers and staff.  Develop systems for staff to remain 6 feet away from each other as much as possible, including during breaks, will limit the number of employees exposed should one of your staff develop COVID-19.

·      Ensure the use of face coverings among staff members.

·      Utilize proper sanitization practices.

·      Encourage customers to wear face coverings inside your establishment when away from their table or the bar

·      Follow all state and county health orders closely.

Patrons visiting their favorite establishments should please consider the following steps.

·      Please respect business practices meant to encourage physical distancing. This not only protects you as a customer but protects other customers and their staff as well.

·      Wear face coverings when inside an establishment and away from your table or the bar.

·      Stay home when you are sick.

·      Wash your hands frequently.

·      Avoid shaking hands.

·      Avoid gathering in large groups when inside the establishment.

·      Follow all state and county health orders closely.

The Fourth of July is this weekend. As we get ready to celebrate our country’s independence, focus on the things that are within our control. Let’s enjoy the holiday and the summertime traditions that we look forward to all year, in a safe manner that protects our freedoms and will keep Wyoming open for business.

Chris Brown

Executive Director

Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association

Mike Moser

Executive Director

Wyoming State Liquor Association

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Timberline Hospitalities Unveils Timberline Way Promise

in Uncategorized
5051

Timberline Hospitalities, a Wyoming owned and operated hotel company, is pleased to announce the unveiling of our new “Timberline Way Promise”.

Now, more than ever, we are committed to the health and safety of our hotel guests and team members. We have enhanced our mission of “Making Friends One Guest at a Time” through additional services that promote cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been our priority to focus on our Cultural Approach. This includes being urgent, second and unique in embracing our part of flattening the spread of the virus.

We have moved quickly and have listened to our guests regarding what is most important to them when staying at our hotels. We are still working diligently towards creating a touch-free experience including curbside check-in, pre-arrival notifications, e-signatures for registration cards and receipts and much more.

Our Timberline Portfolio, at www.timberlinehotels.com, is prepared to welcome new and returning guests in our best condition ever because we care about people and love creating outstanding guest experiences. #togetherwearestronger #bettertogether

Visit Sweetwater County: How To Experience Rock Springs And Green River

in Tourism
5008

TUBING IN GREEN RIVER

Looking to cool off? Rent a tube or a kayak at White Mountain Lumber Tube and Kayak in Green River, and head toward Expedition Island to launch down the area’s lazy river. Or take it up a notch and experience the Green River Whitewater Park and Tubing Channel.

MOUNTAIN BIKING IN GREEN RIVER

Both a local favorite and one of the best trail systems in Wyoming, the Wilkins Peak Trail System allows mountain bikers of all levels to experience Sweetwater County’s unique landscape. Just outside of Green River, 20 miles of biking trails are accessible for a day of adventure. Rent your bike at Bike and Trike in Rock Springs before heading out to the trails. Start with the basics and get warmed up by biking the Channel Surfing trail, rated as beginner, and then see if you can tackle some of the more difficult trails including TNT and Pick Your Poison.

SEE WILKINS PEAK TRAILS [PDF]

HIKING IN ROCK SPRINGS

Located north of Rock Springs, White Mountain is the perfect place to start hiking in Sweetwater County. Those looking for an easier hike or interested in historic sites should follow the short path to the White Mountain Petroglyphs. Discover sandstone etchings from American Indians who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago on this all-level trail. 

For another challenge, visitors can hike to the summit of Pilot Butte, situated atop White Mountain. This extraordinary landmark is the second highest point in the immediate region at 7,949 feet above sea level. Visitors are able to hike to the summit with opportunities to see wild horses and panoramic views of Sweetwater County’s western landscape.

SEE ALL TRAIL AREAS >

WATER RECREATION IN FLAMING GORGE COUNTRY

Just south of Rock Springs and Green River is an oasis of natural beauty. The Lake Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area offers visitors opportunities to camp, boat, fish and more with 360 miles of shoreline and more than 700 campsites. Bring your own equipment or rent water skis, jet skis or boats from one of the marinas around the lake as you reconnect with the great outdoors. Take a scenic drive along the Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway to reach this breathtaking destination. 

These are just a few ideas that will inspire you to get outside and explore Sweetwater County. Browse our Rock Springs and Green River trip ideas for more incredible paths to adventure. 

National Travel Site Selects Centennial as Wyoming’s “Must-Visit” Community

in News/Tourism
4985

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

If you read the food, entertainment, and travel site “Thrillist”, you know they love to put together lists.

We paid close attention to their latest list entitled “The Must-Visit Small Town In Every State” and were pleased to find it included one of Wyoming’s own.

There’s a lot of must-visit small towns in Wyoming.  In fact, compared to many states, every town in Wyoming could be classified as a small town.

Regardless, the magazine chose the non-incorporated community of Centennial as their favorite pick. 

What kind of methodology did the writers use in selecting their favorite community?  None, really. All personal opinion.

We stand by their methodology — although there are many communities in Wyoming that would be the ranked No. 1, depending on who you asked.

What did they like about Centennial?

“This tiny outpost features all the best things about Wyoming — friendly bars, wide-open spaces, great music, and access to some of the most starkly beautiful outdoor recreation you’ll find anywhere,” they wrote.

They also like the party aspect:

“On a given weekend the town is liable to turn into a party, especially when the right bands are passing through, and it’s the home of the most truly great winter party you’ll ever find: The annual Poker Run (see the video above), where a few hundred well-lubricated skiers tumble down the mountain and crash-land in Centennial’s welcoming arms.”

If you plan to visit this must-visit community, get reservations. The writer obviously knows that it can only handle so many people.

“Sitting 8,000 feet up, 30 miles outside of Laramie at the foot of the Medicine Bow mountain range, Centennial consists mainly of a couple hotels and bars/music venues that play host to hikers, campers, skiers, and snowmobilers on their way into or out of the mountains.”

To read the full-list of every must-visit community in the country, check out their article.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Visit Sweetwater County: SEEDSKADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

in News/Tourism
4974

EXPLORE NATURE THIS SUMMER

Stretching along 36 miles of the Green River in southwest Wyoming, you’ll discover Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.

Not only is this 27,230-acre refuge home for migrating birds and a variety of animals, it is also a historical crossing for pioneers and nomadic Native American tribes. 

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting this scenic sanctuary, it is a dream landscape for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs and photographers. 

THINGS TO DO AT SEEDSKADEE

Guests to the refuge will be pleasantly surprised by the numerous winter activities available on-site.

Seedskadee is famous for its birding and Gold Medal fishing, but did you know you can also ride horses and ATVs, hunt, camp and so much more?

You can also view exhibits, take a class, or use viewing scopes at the Visitor’s and Environmental Education Center.

WINTER WILDLIFE AT SEEDSKADEE

Each season brings new temperatures, influencing changes to the wildlife and plants and making each visit unique. 

During winter, this panoramic area is particularly breathtaking and becomes the perfect home for arctic rough-legged hawks, as well as migratory birds like rosy-finches, waterfowl and trumpeter swans. 

Many visit throughout winter just to see the big game mammals, such as elk, moose, pronghorn antelope and white-tailed deer.

If you’re vigilant, you may even see well-hidden creatures like great horned owls or river otters. Learn more about the wildlife seasons in Seedskadee

Seedskadee is open daily except for scheduled protective closings and holidays, so it’s easy to see why thousands of nature-lovers and sportsmen alike venture to the region year-round.

Planning your visit is simple and well worth the short drive from your base camp in Green River or Rock Springs

Take a virutal tour of Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge! 

Visit Sweetwater County: Road Trip Into Wyoming’s Wild Natural Beauty

in Uncategorized
4959

WIDE OPEN SPACES, WILD HORSES AND WESTERN BEAUTY

A trip to Yellowstone is a bucket-list-worthy adventure, but the journey to the park can be just as unforgettable as the park itself.

Start a few hours south of Yellowstone, and drive through the incredible and untamed beauty of Sweetwater County to get a taste for Wyoming’s unique natural setting.

From state record-breaking trout to herds of wild horses, this is a place that’s rugged and ripe with opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Get off the grid and reconnect with nature as you whitewater raft, off-road on sand dunes, hike among ancient petroglyphs and let your spirit run wild.

FLAMING GORGE RESERVOIR

At the very edge of Sweetwater County, straddling the Wyoming-Utah border, is the breathtaking Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The massive, twisting waterway is 42,000 acres of pure beauty. It provides awesome opportunities for boating and waterskiing, as the views around each bend are ever-changing and absolutely gorgeous.

You can even windsurf the lake, but it’s especially popular for its world-renowned fishing, as the reservoir is filled with trout, bass, and even salmon. Another way to experience the endless beauty here is to hike around the shores.

Rugged cliffs above the gorge and dense, lush forests provide wild and exciting trails. Rent a campsite beside the lake so you can sit back and enjoy this incredible place.

WHITE MOUNTAIN PETROGLYPHS

White Mountain Petroglyphs is a great hike for those who like their outdoor adventure with a side of history. The trails here take you past ancient rock carvings from between 1,000 to 200 years ago.

Take your time to examine the petroglyphs, which appear to depict elk and buffalo hunts, handprints, tiny footprints and other symbols and markings. Many tribes hold this place to be sacred, and you can feel something special in the atmosphere here.

KILLPECKER SAND DUNES

Next, make your way to the Killpecker Sand Dunes. As the second-largest active dune field in the world, featuring thousands of acres of shifting sand, it’s truly a sight to see.

You can also experience the dunes while exploring the larger Red Desert area, which contains the sand dune field. These are back country roads with no services, so it’s a good idea to fuel up a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle. 

Just be careful — high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended and weather conditions can and do change quickly making it imperative to be prepared at all times.

There are no services along the route as it winds its way through the beautiful and rugged landscape, and cell phone reception may be limited. It is always advisable to inform someone of your destination and the planned time of return.

BOAR’S TUSK

As you head north toward the sand dunes, it’ll be hard to miss Boar’s Tusk.

The lone butte is the remains of a volcano, composed of a rare, erosion-resistant volcanic rock called lamproite.

Drive a little closer to it to snap some photos and walk around… it’s a distinctive feature that adds character to the wild landscape.

PILOT BUTTE WILD HORSE SCENIC LOOP

If you’re short on time, then a scenic drive can give you a great sense of the wild western landscape with little effort… you won’t even need to get out of the car! 

The Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop is a unique opportunity to possibly see wild horses in their natural habitat. You’ll see herds of horses in all of their untamed glory, but plan to stop at the interpretive signs and scenic overlooks, too.

Just be careful — high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended and weather conditions can and do change quickly making it imperative to be prepared at all times.

There are no services along the route as it winds its way through the beautiful and rugged landscape, and cell phone reception may be limited. It is always advisable to inform someone of your destination and the planned time of return.

GREEN RIVER WHITEWATER PARK

The city of Green River is a nice place to get back in touch with civilization during your outdoor excursion through the region. It’s also home to Expedition Island Park, a public green space that serves as the heart of the city.

Its history dates back to 1869 when John Wesley Powell launched his historic exploration of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon from the island, and you can follow in his footsteps with a visit to Expedition Island’s Green River Whitewater Park.

The North Channel of the Whitewater Park is a great place for tubers and beginning kayakers and canoers to put-in; the gentle drops, deep pools, and shallower edges make it a great place to swim, take a float on a tube and get the hang of navigating the river on a boat.

The main channel, which contains Castle Falls, is a little more advanced, but it’s an exciting and easy way to get your feet wet for some fun whitewater rafting and canoeing.

Be safe — don’t forget to check current whitewater conditions with USGS!

SEEDSKADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Another way to get wild in Sweetwater County is to meet some of the wildlife in the area. The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is absolutely amazing. 

Eagles, moose, pelicans, swans, deer, elk, antelope, jackrabbits, horses and more roam the landscape, which follows a portion of the Green River. The grassland is so wide and open that you might not see anyone else during a visit here.

The peace and quiet make for an incredible experience. Cruise around the roads, hike through the wilderness, backcountry camp and catch some fish in the Green River.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

After spending a few days exploring, you’ll be re-energized to tackle the drive to Yellowstone.

The park is an absolute wonderland of natural beauty with geothermal oddities, incredible wildlife, and rugged mountains and canyons to explore. But as you experience all of the park’s jaw-dropping, bucket list-worthy sights, you might find yourself dreaming about the quiet beauty of Sweetwater County.

With so many different and unique ways to immerse yourself in the outdoor fun of Wyoming, Sweetwater County is an awesome stop on the way to Yellowstone or as a destination in and of itself.

Either way, experiencing the fun and outdoor allure of southern Wyoming is sure to create memories. It’ll turn even the least adventurous outdoorsman into a nature-lover!

For more trip guides like this, visit roadtrippers.com!

Bill Sniffin: Lots To Do In Goshen County, The Welcome Mat Is Out For State Visitors

in Column/Bill Sniffin
4937

By Bill Sniffin, publisher Cowboy State Daily

TORRINGTON — Not long ago, I made a tour of eastern Wyoming was among the most fun experiences of a near half-century in the state.

Nestled between Devils Tower on the north end and Laramie Peak on the south end and the rugged hills and buttes of western South Dakota and Nebraska, is a very special place, stretching from up north to Hulett down to Pine Bluffs on the south.

One of our recent trips involved three wonderful towns, Torrington, Lingle, LaGrange, and Fort Laramie.

It is hard to find a small city in Wyoming that is more diversified that Torrington.

It has a thriving Ag community including the region’s largest sale barn Torrington Livestock Market plus a community college plus a large home for children and the state’s medium security prison. 

One the town’s biggest annual events is the 2-Shot Goose Hunt and we were there for the annual victory banquet Saturday, Dec. 9, 2018.

Then-Gov. Matt Mead was the biggest celebrity at the event, which he told me he enjoys very much.  Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal also competed that year.  And current governor Mark Gordon also competed. 

Hunters compete in teams of two. One year, Gov. Mead and his wife Carol were a team.  They camped out in their blind and saw nary a bird. Mead later quipped at the banquet that night that they had nothing else to do, so they repeated their marriage vows.

During my stay in Torrington in 2019, Director Bob Mayor gave us a tour of the St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, which was started as an orphanage some 89 years ago. Today, they serve young boys and girls who usually are sent to the home by the courts. They usually stay about six months.

The home is impressive.  Its grounds are beautiful and it has a solemn, beautiful chapel.  Its museum is one of the more distinctive in the state.  The home was founded by Bishop Patrick McGovern of Cheyenne.

Our friends Bryan and Donna Cay Heinz showed us around the area, including some fantastic historic homes.  These old homes had crow’s nests on the roofs where presumably you could watch for hostile Indians or just check on things for quite a distance.

It was fun visiting the Torrington Telegram and meeting publisher Rob Mortimore and then-Editor Andrew Brosig.  I have too much ink in my blood not to just love the smells and sounds of the local newspaper.  And the Telegram is a darned good one. 

The 2-Shot and other events were held in some of the impressive Goshen County Fair buildings.  Hard to imagine a town as small as Torrington having an indoor arena of such size. They host national roping events and you can see why. It is both enormous and impressive.

Another big thing in this small town is the Torrington Livestock Market. It is one of three biggest livestock auction barns in the country.  Hard to imagine the number of cows that go through that place each year.

While I was in Torrington, I gave a talk to the local Rotary Club about my trilogy of Wyoming Coffee Table Books. What an outstanding club.  And the meeting was at the clubhouse of one of the prettiest golf courses in the state. 

Eastern Wyoming College is going through a building boom, which we saw courtesy of one of the students.  President Leslie Lanham Travers is a Lander native, whom I had watched growing up in my town.  John Hansen, the director of institutional development, has a number of impressive projects underway.

The college is all-in when it comes to the trades with a massive welding teaching complex and an ample cosmetology facility.

As a student of Wyoming history, it has always been easy for me to assume that the only major railroad in the state is the Union Pacific, which runs across the southern tier of counties.

But the eastern side of the state was literally also built of towns nestled next to the railroad, which includes Torrington, Lusk, Newcastle, and onward north.

And it is important to note that for 50 years, Goshen County was the center of the entire west because it was home to Fort Laramie. Today it has been restored and is an amazing site to visit.  It is a national monument.  Watch your schedule because it closes at 4:30p.m. even though the sun doesn’t go down until 9 p.m. in June.

For a quarter of a century, my wife Nancy and I owned a newspaper in Winner, S. D. and often drove through eastern Wyoming on our way there from Lander.  Also, since we had relatives in Iowa, we often drove through Goshen County on our drives back and forth. The people were always incredibly friendly, the food was great, and the fields were lush.

During one of my stops in eastern Wyoming we also visited Jeff Rose at the Rose Brothers Implement Store in Lingle.  Last time I saw him, he was climbing Devils Tower with his daughter.  Now he is talking about climbing Gannett Peak.  Good luck on that!

Often the sites and sights of Goshen County are viewed more by out of state tourists than in-state tourists.  We would strongly recommend that this is a great time for Wyoming folks to visit other Wyoming folks.  A trip to Goshen County should be high on your list. I highly recommend it.

The Goshen County Economic Development agency put together a list of things to do:

Explore Goshen County’s Historical Markers

Ash Point Trading Post

California National Historic Trail

Cheyenne Deadwood Stage Route

Cold Springs Emigrant Camp

County Line Grave

Dickens Site

Fort Bernard Trading Post

Government Farm & State Station

Grattan Massacre Historical Monument

Griffin-Gardner House

Harvard Fossil Beds

Horse Creek Treaty

Indian Grave, Quarry, and Camp

Jay Em Bison Kill Site

John Henry Museum

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Pony Express National Historic Trail

Rawhide Stage Station

Rawhide Wildlife Habitat Nature Trail 

Red Cloud Indian Agency

Sod House

Stuart Party Camp

Table Mountain Wildlife Habitat

Texas Trail

Texas Trail Marker

The Pioneer Community Center

Three Mile Hog Ranch

United States Postal Service

United States Postal Service

Whalen Diversion Dam

Woodworth Springs

Yoder Home Site

Torrington-Things to Do

Adam Walter Memorial Botanical Park

Basketball Courts

Bird Watching

Bounce City

City Park

Cottonwood Country Club 

Cottonwood Golf Course

Cross the state line

Dale Jones Municipal Swimming Pool

Fishing (90 bodies of water throughout the county)

Frisbee Golf

Geocaching (locations around the county)

Go Goshen Visitor Center

GoGoshen Visitor Center

Goshen County Fair Grounds

Goshen County Library

Goshen County Sportsman’s Club

Grass Roots Walking Trail

Gravity Rail Park

Hiking

Homesteader’s Museum

Jirdon Park

Nebraska State Line

North Platte River

Oregon Trail Historic Trail’

Packer Lake

Picnicking

Pioneer Park

Pleasant Valley Greenhouse & Recreation

Rendezvous Center & Indoor Arena

Stargazing

Table Mountain Vineyards

Tennis Courts

Torrington Cruise Night,  June-September

Torrington Livestock Markets

Torrington Rock Shop

Torrington Skate Park

Torrington Sports Complex

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your Dog

Wyoming Theatre Two

Standing Events

2 Shot Goose Hunt

3rd Thursdays

Ag Breakfast

Car Show

Christmas Festivities

Christmas Parade

Comedy Night

Easter Egg Hunt

Forks Corks & Kegs

Goshen County Fair

Holiday Bazaar

Lions Club Summer Arts and Crafts Festival

National Circuit Finals Steer Roping

Parade of Tables

Pictures with Santa

Prairie Rose Vintage Garden

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Rooster Booster

Rotary Wine Tasting

Sagebrush and Roses

The Polar Express at the Museum

Torrington Farmers Market every Thursday from June until October

Torrington Fire Department Fireworks Show

Trunk-or-Treat

Yeehaw Daze

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

The 307 Bar & Grill

1500 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-8164

Family Variety, Bar & Grill

AJ’s Soda Shop

918 W Valley Rd, Torrington

307-575-7632

Family Variety, Ice Cream, Coffee, Soda

Arby’s

128 W Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-8900

Fast Food

Bee Chilled

Torrington

307-575-3295

Mobile Ice Cream Truck

The Bread Doctor

2017 Main St, Torrington

307-534-2253

Bakery

Broncho Bar

1924 Main St, Torrington

307-532-8660

Bar

Broncho Grill House

1918 Main St, Torrington

307-532-2950

Family Variety, Bar & Grill

Bucking Horse Steakhouse

Hwy 85, Torrington

307-532-8500

Family Variety, Fine Dining

Burger King

1020 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-4505

Fast Food

Canton Dragon

2126 Main St, Torrington

307-532-3888

Chinese

Cottonwood Country Club

2101 W 15th St, Torrington

307-532-4347

Family Variety, Bar & Grill

The Corner Bar

202 Main St, Lingle

307-837-2673

Bar & Grill

Cowboy Cafe

626 W Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-3333

Coffee/Cafe, Family Variety

Cowboy up Coffee

2702 W C St., Torrington

307-575-1392

Coffee/food to go

Deacon’s Restaurant

1558 S Main St, Torrington

307-532-4766

Family Variety

Domino’s Pizza

2741 W C St, Torrington

307-532-0330

Family Variety

Garcia’s

1915 Main Street

307-532-0852

Mexican

J & B Liquor

120 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-2521

Bar

The Java Jar

1940 Main St, Torrington

307-532-8541

Coffee/Café

La Familia Prado

1250 S Main St, Torrington

307-534-1975

Mexican

The Mint

1914 Main St

307-532-7421

Bar

McDonald’s

800 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-0120

Fast Food

Open Barrel Brewing Company

1930 Main St

307-401-0107

Bar/Snack food

Pizza Hut

1120 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-7007

Pizza/Italian

Prairie Creek Books

and Tea

4392 US-26, Torrington 

307-532-3495

Tea

San Pedros

2113 Main Street, Torrington

Mexican

Scott’s Hiway Bar

1202 Main St, Torrington

307-532-3777

Bar & Grill

Subway

1934 W A St, Torrington

307-532-8444

Fast Food

Sweet Lou’s Bakery Café

120 W 20th Ave, Torrington

307-534-6984

Coffee/Café, Bakery

Table Mountain Vineyards

5933 Rd 48, Huntley

307-459-0233

Wine Tasting/Catering/Food Events

Taco Johns

224 W 20th Ave, Torrington

307-532-3711

Fast Food

Lingle-Things To Do

Bird Watching

Ellis Harvest Home

Fishing 

Haven on the Rock

Hiking

Historic Ban Shell 

Historic Jay Em

Jay Em Historic District Tours

Lingle Pool

Newcomb’s Arcade

North Platte River

Oregon Trail Historic Trail

Picnicking

Rawhide Wildlife Habitat Nature Trail

Stargazing

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your Dog

Whipple Park

Wyoming History Center

Standing Events

Car Show

Christmas Lighting Contest

Church in the Park

Fireman’s Ball

Fireman’s Burger Feed

Lingle Volunteer Fire Department – Easter Egg Hunt

Lingle, Mingle, Jingle

Movies in the Park

SAREC Tours

Trunk or Treat

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

The Corner Bar

202 Main St, Lingle

307-837-2673

Bar & Grill

Lira’s Restaurant

E Hwy 26, Lingle

307-837-2826

Mexican

Fort Laramie-Things To Do 

1875 Iron Bridge

B.A. Cave

Bird Watching

Dr. Brownrigg House & Hospital

Fishing 

Fort Laramie Community Center

Fort Laramie Frontier Trading Post

Fort Laramie National Historic Site Audio Tour

Fort Laramie National Historical Site

Fort Laramie Visitor Center

Hell Gap National Historic Landmark

Hiking

Interpretive Programs at the Fort

Mormon Initials Carved on Rock

North Platte River

Oregon Trail Historic Trail

Picnicking

Splash Park

Stargazing

Tracs and Traces

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your dog

Standing Events

4th Fridays (street fair and farmers market] from July through October)

Annual New Year’s Eve Dance

Halloween Party

Easter Breakfast

Easter Egg Hunt

4th of July Fireworks

Old fashion 4th of July activities at the Fort Laramie National Historic site

Christmas with Santa

Summer Street Dance

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

Ft. Laramie American Grill

302 Pioneer Ct, Ft. Laramie

307-837-2324

Family Variety

The Gathering Place

101 Lawton Ave, Ft. Laramie

307-837-3082

Tearoom

Vickie’s Saloon

115 N Laramie, Ft. Laramie

307-587-2288

Bar & Grill

Yoder-Things To Do

Bump Sullivan 

Downer Bird Farm

Fishing

Hawk Springs Easter Egg Hunt

Hawk Springs State Recreation

Hunting

Oregon Trail Historic Trail

Picnicking

Springer Reservoir

Springer Wildlife Management

Stargazing

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your dog

Water Sports

Yoder Abandoned Jail

Yoder Park

Standing Events

Pheasant Dinner [women’s club]

Roster-Booster [Springer bird farm]

Trunk-or-Treat

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

The Emporium

Hwy 85, Hawk Springs

307-532-3442

Bar & Grill

Longbranch Saloon & Steakhouse

525 Hwy 85, Hawk Springs

307-532-4266

Bar & Grill

LaGrange-Things To Do

Basketball court

Bill Ward Memorial Playground

Cookout in Local Park

Cross the State Line

Disc Golf

Enjoy fresh pie at the diner

Fishing

Hiking

Hunting

Library

Picnic

RC race track

Silver Wing Sporting Club

Take a tour of the Historic Heritage Center

Tennis court

Three parks

Walk your Dog

Walking Trail

Standing Events

June Mini Fair [includes pancake breakfast, foot races, lunch, 5k run, car show, garage sale, bands, games, and rodeo]

Annual Fireworks and Ice Cream Social

Community building fund raising through silent auction [soup and desserts auction

Easter Egg Hunt

Halloween Party

Christmas Lightning Contest

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

Bear Mountain Stage Stop

1252 Hwy 85, LaGrange

307-834-0105

Bar & Grill

Longhorn Café

5th Ave, LaGrange

307-834-2432

Family Variety

For more information, contact:

Sandy Hoehn 

Community Development Director

Goshen County Economic Development

Home of Goshen County Economic Development, Chamber and Visitor’s Center

2042 Main Street  | Torrington, WY  82240

Phone  307.532.3879 | Cell 307.575.5919

Visit Sweetwater County: EXPLORE THE WILD WEST

in Uncategorized
4916

MEET DINOSAURS & WILD HORSES!

Sure, National Parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton are great ways for the family to experience the unique landscape and culture of the Wild West, but nothing can beat actually exploring the charming towns, peaceful lakes, somber mountains and sweeping prairies just outside the parks.

This trip runs through an authentic slice of Americana that will give everyone, from the kids to the adults, a taste of what makes this part of the country so special.

You’ll learn about when dinosaurs roamed the land, see unique wildlife that lives here today and get outside as you fully appreciate this little corner of the country.

SEEDSKADEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Seeing wildlife up close and personal in a natural habitat is always a special experience. The individual ecosystem of a place really plays a huge role in its culture and atmosphere, and Sweetwater County is no exception. Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is preserving a wondrous slice of wilderness along the Green River, which gives visitors an opportunity to meet some of its native residents. Animals like moose, elk, wild horses, swans, pelicans, antelope, and more can be sighted year-round, and the river itself provides world-class fly fishing. Whether you want a peaceful encounter with nature or to immerse yourself fully, Seedskadee is pure, wild magic.

SWEETWATER COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM

The history in Sweetwater County is just as fascinating at its wildlife. From the region’s prehistoric days below an ancient lake to the Shoshone and Ute tribes who first populated the area to the Oregon, California, Mormon, Overland, Cherokee, and Pony Express Trails that brought thousands of intrepid pioneers through, there is a ton to learn about. Hands-on activities for kids, endless information for adults, cool artifacts, and rotating exhibits combine to make a visit to the Sweetwater County Historical Museum well worth your while.

EXPEDITION ISLAND PARK

Another way to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air is to head to Expedition Island Park. Here you can fish for trout, take a walk around the Greenbelt Pathway and admire the landscaping, kayak, raft or tube at the Whitewater Park, picnic and more. Kids especially will love the splash park and playground. It’s a great way to burn off some energy or cool off and get refreshed!

GREEN RIVER BIKE PARK

If you’re a cyclist or you’re traveling with any, then the Green River Bike Park is a great stop. Coast across log bridges, tackle jumps, get some air against the walls and truck through exciting rough terrain on your bike. If you’re a beginner when it comes to mountain biking, there’s a skills zone where you can ease into the excitement of the more challenging obstacles, or watch the pros do their thing as you circle the smooth loop trail around the park via the Wilkin’s Peak Trail System, the #1 singletrack trails system in the state, according to Singletracks.com.

PILOT BUTTE WILD HORSE SCENIC LOOP

For an authentically Wyoming experience, you can check out a herd of wild horses on the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop. Scenic overlooks make for great breaks from the road, interpretive signs add context to the route, and, of course, the wild horses are an incredible sight to see. There are more than 1,000 of them in this area, and you have the best chance to see them in the morning and late afternoon. The sunset is fantastic from atop White Mountain on this route, so plan accordingly if time allows! This scenic loop is best experienced from a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle.

WESTERN WYOMING COMMUNITY COLLEGE’S DINOSAURS

Before there were wild horses in Wyoming, there were dinosaurs! Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs is right off the highway and contains five massive dinosaur skeleton casts that are on display for the public. Many of the fossils were found in the state and include the remains of a Plesiosaur, a T-Rex, a Camptosaurus and a Stegosaurus. The casts are free to visit, and the WWCC has a neat campus that’s worth checking out. Or just grab a bite to eat at the T-Rex Grill, located in the shadow of the beast’s bones.

REMEDIES GRILL

Another great option for lunch is the retro diner-style Remedies Grill. The storefront is actually part gift shop, part home medical supply company (which explains the name “Remedies”!) and part soda shop, but it’s loaded with local charm. The menu isn’t too big, with mostly burgers, salads, fish and chips and grilled cheeses, but everything is prepared to old-fashioned perfection. Finish it all off with a drink from the soda fountain and enjoy the quirky, friendly atmosphere!

WEIDNER WILDLIFE MUSEUM

Head back to the Western Wyoming Community College to check out another interesting display, the Weidner Wildlife Museum. The exhibit, open Monday through Thursday, features nearly 125 taxidermied specimens from around the globe. From bears and elephants to lions and rhinos to cheetahs and crocs, there are loads of specimens to examine at the free museum. Walking into a room stuffed to the gills with mounted creatures is not something you get to experience every day, and it’s worth a quick stop!

Between marveling at dinosaurs, watching wild horses run free, enjoying a root beer float at a vintage diner, and fishing in the Green River, there’s something for everyone to love in Sweetwater County. This hidden gem in the corner of Wyoming is loaded with enough to keep the family busy for days!

For more trip guides like this, visit roadtrippers.com!

Visit Sweetwater County: The Ultimate Road Trip Stopover

in News/Tourism
4892

EXPLORE THE “SALT TO STONE” REGION

Long road trips are best broken up over several days so you can keep your eyes fresh, your vacation full and your mind at ease. Driving to Wyoming’s National Parks can be quite a jaunt for some, but we have some great news! Sweetwater County, Woming is the perfect place to jump out of the car and into adventure on your way.

Here’s our favorite way to create the ultimate road trip stopover before the last leg of your national parks journey:

DAY 1: EXPERIENCE SALT TO STONE

Sweetwater County is one of the prime stops to experience the “Salt to Stone” region, which encompasses the natural attractions and off-the-beaten-path activities from Utah’s Great Salt Lake all the way to Yellowstone National Park.

No matter which direction you come from, Sweetwater County is the perfect stop, complete with some of the top regional attractions and adventerous activities like hiking, biking, kayaking and more.

MORNING-AFTERNOON: 

Arrive in Rock Springs (from the east) or Green River (from the west) on I-80.

If you arrive in the morning, stop by a local coffee shop like Java Peddler in Rock Springs or Get Real Coffee in Green River. If you arrive closer to the afternoon, grab some lunch and a local brew at Bitter Creek Brewing in Rock Springs or the Hitching Post Restaurant in Green River.

Check in to a hotel, motel, or inn, or reserve an RV site or campsite in the area.

AFTERNOON-EVENING: 

Make the most of the daylight hours, and get out to one of the region’s main attractions: Boar’s Tusk. This striking rock formation guards another main area attraction—the Killpecker Sand Dunes—so after taking in the views from Boar’s Tusk, head to the dunes. 

This is a true “off the grid experience,” and cell service is limited! Make sure you have extra water, and a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle with thick tires (and a spare tire) to traverse the dirt roads. Let someone know where you are headed and when you plan to return.

If there’s enough daylight left and you brought along your ATV, spend the rest of the day off-roading on the dunes for a genuine, off-the-beaten-path afternoon of adventure and excitement in Sweetwater County. 

When the day is coming to a close, head back toward your accommodations to rest up for another day of adventure on your road trip stopover!

DAY 2: JUMP INTO ADVENTURE

Another main attraction that Sweetwater County boasts is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation area. Stradling the Utah and Wyoming borders, Flaming Gorge Country is an incredible place to get off the grid. And the best part is, Sweetwater County offers the most rugged Flaming Gorge experience.

MORNING:

Get up nice and early to grab some breakfast at a local café like Penny’s Diner in Green River or Cowboy Donuts in Rock Springs. Pick up a picnic lunch at a local sandwich shop—we’re spending the day in rugged wilderness!

MORNING-AFTERNOON: 

After you’ve packed up lunch, sunscreen, and plenty of water for the day, head to Lake Flaming Gorge. It is here you will find the best options to create your own adventure. Spend the day hiking to the plateus surrounding the beautiful Flaming Gorge landscape or really chill out with a little bit of wakeboarding, boating or jet skiing on Lake Flaming Gorge.

EVENING: 

When the sun starts to set, head back into town to clean up and have some dinner at a local establishment like Broadway Burger Station or Grub’s Drive In in Rock Springs, or Gudino’s Cafe or Fish Bowl in Green River. You are sure to have worked up quite an appetite during the day!

DAY 3: WYOMING’S NATIONAL PARKS

Since Sweetwater County is only about a three- to five-hour drive from Yellowstone and Grand Teton, it’s easy to spend a morning in the area and still make it to your destination with plenty of time to spare.

MORNING: 

Head to Green River and grab a coffee and light breakfast at a local café. Spend the morning at Expedition Island, a great place to walk along the greenbelt pathway for an easy, quiet morning after your day of rugged adventure. Or if you haven’t had enough of the area’s more strenuous activities, there’s kayaking, rafting, or tubing on the Green River. Don’t forget to check current whitewater conditions with USGS.

Since the area offers so much variety, it’s a perfect way to spend the morning before heading off to your final destination.

Looking for more ways to play in Sweetwater County? Extend your stopover with these diverse summer activities!

8 Ways To Experience Downtown Rock Springs: Experience An Award-winning Main Street

in Tourism
4875


Bustling with locally owned shops, lively restaurants and year-round events, Downtown Rock Springs in Sweetwater County, Wyoming exudes small-town charm.

Admire historic buildings as you stroll down the picturesque streets, and discover fun things to do and see at every turn. Here are just a few ways to enjoy the downtown area:

  1. FILL UP ON MOUTHWATERING DISHES.
    Eat your way through local specialties and time-honored classics when you chow down at the many restaurants in Rock Springs. Fill up on old-time burgers and fries at Broadway Burger Station, order a loaded Italian meatball sandwich at Boschetto’s European Market, or indulge in seasonal dishes from trout to pork chops at Eve’s. For locally brewed craft beer, Bitter Creek Brewing serves up flavorful microbrews, such as the refreshing Boars Tusk ale, bright Sweetwater Wheat or malty Red Desert Ale.
  2. SHOP LOCAL.
    The quaint streets of historic Downtown Rock Springs are lined with mom-and-pop shops, independent boutiques and gift shops. Go shopping for cute accessories at Sweet Sage, or pick up a few specialty gifts for yourself or someone else at Busy Bee Bath Essentials.
  3. GET PAMPERED AT A SPA OR SALON.
    Whether you’re looking to soothe sore muscles after a day of outdoor adventures or just want to enjoy a relaxing experience, make an appointment at one of the many salons or spas in Rock Springs. For the ultimate experience, unwind with a massage or facial, followed by a manicure and pedicure at Escape Day Spa & Boutique.
  4. EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF THE THEATRE.
    Get ready for a night on the town with a live music concert, dramatic production or enthralling dance performance at the recently refurbished Broadway Theater, featuring an intimate setting of only 370 seats.
  5. ENJOY A THIRST-QUENCHING DRINK.
    Once the sun goes down, experience the nightlife in Rock Springs. Belly up to the bar (and then dare yourself to sing some karaoke) at Park Lounge, where the drinks are cold and the locals are friendly. Meanwhile, craft beer is the draw at Bitter Creek Brewing, offering a lineup of seasonal and staple brews in a lively (and family-friendly) setting.
  6. DELVE INTO LOCAL HISTORY.
    Walk through the doors of Rock Springs Historical Museum, and enter a passageway back in time. The castle-like sandstone building was built in 1894 and once served as Rock Springs’ City Hall. Today, it houses rotating exhibits that showcase the area’s rich history, from the town’s coal mining heritage to larger-than-life outlaws and pioneers who made a lasting impact during the Old West days.
  1. TAKE A WALKING TOUR
    While you’re at the Rock Springs Historical Museum, pick up a free brochure for the Downtown Historic Walking Tour, a self-guided tour that highlights the city’s historic buildings, all while delving into the fascinating history of each location along the way. You can also download the PocketSights app to guide you along the way.
  2. GET FESTIVE DURING A SPECIAL EVENT.
    Find fun things to do in Rock Springs all year long when you attend one of the many events happening downtown, such as free concerts in the Bunning Park, classic car shows, farmers markets and more. Check the events calendar to see what to do during your upcoming visit.

Looking for a pit-stop or more information? Visit the Bunning Freight Building for public restrooms and information about Rock Springs.

WATCH: Runoff Draws Kayakers For Great Rapids On The Popo Agie

in News/Tourism
4726

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

When the water is running high on the Popo Agie River in Fremont County, the kayakers turn out.

Duncan Gans and a few friends took advantage of the spring runoff feeding the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie south of Lander a few days ago to get in some recreation on the water.

When rising temperatures melt the snow in the Wind River Mountains, the runoff flows into the Popo Agie, creating ideal conditions for kayaking near Sinks Canyon, as you can see in this video shot by Gans.

While the runoff has created flood levels in past years, as in 2010 and 2017, there appears to be no danger of flooding this year.

Sinks Canyon is named for a geologic feature called “The Sinks,” where the Popo Agie disappears into the side of a canyon wall and reappears one-quarter mile downstream on the other side of the canyon.

Bill Sniffin: With Restrictions Easing, The Tourists Are Coming

in Column/Bill Sniffin
4622

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily publisher

With energy and ag experiencing tough times, this was the year that tourism was going to help the Wyoming economy soar. 

And then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time in our lifetimes, the whole world shut down. 

Wyoming is a destination reached mainly by auto and camper.  With national gasoline prices hitting historic lows, it could have been assumed that we would get far more than our usual 9 million visitors and maybe even set new tourism records.

Tourism is a powerful force. People today feel their vacation trips are an entitlement.  And Wyoming is a place they want to go.

Drawn by our national parks, forests and monuments, Oregon Trail, fantastic state parks, mountain ranges and lakes, luxurious private tourism destinations, and local areas promoted by 20+ lodging tax boards – well, it’s a steady stream of tourists launched in early spring that doesn’t tail off until the snows of November. The industry employs 33,000 people and generates almost $4 billion annually. 

Wyoming was pretty much shut down in late March and here we are, two months later, tentatively starting to open up. 

For the first time in perhaps decades, the Wyoming Office of Tourism launched a $140,000 “in-state” tourism campaign. (Note: That TV ad can be found on Cowboy State Daily web site.)

Diane Shober, state tourism director, encouraged a cautious start with lots of emphasis on social distancing, face masks, and lots of sanitizer. 

Leslie Jefferson of Carbon County Visitor Council said their museums are open and they are starting their annual promotions. 

“Our county is so big and so full of amazing sites and sights that people can easily come here and still practice safe distancing,” she said. “Both of our wonderful scenic mountain roads, Battle Mountain and Snowy Range, are now open.” 

She called the current situation “an interesting animal at this point.”

Sandy Hoehn in Torrington said their tourism situation is improving and their motels “are filling up.”

Shawn Parker in Sheridan Travel and Tourism said: “We are cautiously optimistic that Wyoming, as a premier road trip market, will be at the forefront of the travel industry rebound. Demand continues to increase in the Sheridan County market.” 

Local tourism professionals like Paula McCormick of the Wind River Visitors Council felt it was an uneasy balancing act between encouraging tourists to come to Fremont County and while making sure local health was not threatened by thousands of newcomers. She said it has been disappointing to see all the events that have been canceled in April, May, and now in June and July.

I founded the Wind River Visitors Council 30 years ago and was its president for its first three years. I know something about tourism. But I have never had to be involved in the decisions she and her board have to make. 

All 23 counties have tourism boards and all are taking baby steps. Some officials are a little more aggressive and some, like Paula, are probably a little more cautious.  That darned virus looms large in their decisions.  But once you throw that gate open, it is almost impossible to close it back up.  

There is an enormous pent-up demand across the country to get out of the house and go someplace.  And Wyoming, with its wondrous wide-open spaces and relatively low impact from the coronavirus, will look especially enticing to tourists from coast to coast. 

“As far as caution, I think we are doing a great balancing act that is supporting our tourism businesses to get back into business, while assuring our residents as the state and national lands open up in Wyoming,” McCormick said. “I don’t think of it as being cautious, because, no matter what we do, now that the Governor and some of the public lands have relaxed their restrictions. It also helps that the weather is working in our favor, after people have been cooped up.  Like the Governor said, a lot of the responsibility is in the hands of the visitors, who need to Travel Responsibly. So that’s why we’ve created our Meme campaign to educate those visitors who will come from in-state and out-of-state about safety protocol.”

Paula summarized her thoughts with: “The tourism industry, while the second largest in Wyoming, is made of smiles of people on vacation, happy in Wyoming’s open spaces and western life. Yes, there are millions of visitors, but as long as you aren’t standing at Old Faithful in the middle of summer, we can spread them out pretty well. Especially we can spread them out in Wind River Country. It’s a healthy industry, and we are trying to make people have their dream vacation while we keep them and us healthy. 

“So, the balancing act is assuring our residents and visitors that we can be both safe and have a tourism economy, although it looks a little different than previously,” she concluded. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gordon Keeps In-State Camping Reservation System; Cancels Out-Of-State Camping

in News/Coronavirus/Tourism
4404

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

For those who don’t like to compete with visitors from other states for state park campsites, you’ll be glad to know that Governor Gordon, for now, has closed state park campsites to out-of-state visitors.

This doesn’t mean out-of-staters can’t camp in Wyoming.  But not at the state park campgrounds.

However, those who don’t like the reservation system put in place for Wyoming residents who camp at state campgrounds didn’t get any relief from the governor today. That system is still in place.

Gordon last week announced state park campsites would be open to Wyoming residents only as of May 15. To help make sure social distancing guidelines are observed and to keep out-of-state visitors from camping at the parks, the state created a reservation system for campsites.

It’s a system, the governor says, that he hopes will be a big improvement over the “first-come, first-served” system in place now.

“What we’re trying to implement is a very good system that is easy to use where people can sign up and reserve a camping spot before they go to our state parks,” he said.

He said the State of Wyoming is a “little less eager” to have out-of-state campers coming in until other states have opened up their own parks. The reservation system, he said, provides a way to prevent non-residents from overnight camping in the parks.

“It’s new. I understand that,” he said. “But this is a great way to make sure people don’t waste their time trying to get a camping spot.”

Long-term, Gordon said, he thinks this will be an improved experience.

“We are trying to make this as flexible as possible and take advantage of what we think is actually a better system.  Because you’ll know the camping space where you are going and be assured of that,” he said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

C.J. Box Thanks Wyoming Citizens For Prodding Legislature to Approve Lodging Tax

in News/Travel/Coronavirus
4124

New York Times bestselling author and Wyoming native C.J. Box on Friday thanked Wyoming citizens for convincing the Wyoming Legislature to approve a 5% statewide lodging tax.

In an email from the Wyoming Office of Tourism, Box said the new tax will “usher in a new era” for tourism in Wyoming.

“Although it was a very hard-fought battle and the legislation is far from perfect, it should allow for increased funding for our state and the excellent team led by [Tourism Office Executive Director] Diane Shober.

Box, the newly-installed Chairman of the Wyoming Office of Tourism Board of Directors, said passage of the new tax was a significant achievement for Wyoming’s second largest industry and largest employer.

“Gov. Gordon identified the new bill as the only tax he would support is further proof of our clout and importance,” he said. “Feel free to take a bow.”

Box has been prolific during the pandemic urging citizens on social media channels to support local businesses like restaurants by using curbside service.

“We want to do our part in keeping local restaurants open so we order curbside meals every night and tip generously,” he said in a YouTube video.

As for the prospects of Wyoming tourism during the pandemic, Shober, in an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Thursday, was cautiously optimistic stating that it was too early to tell if the pandemic would significantly impact tourism.

“This summer will be critical,” she said. “This is an export economy. People coming here from other places helps offset our revenues across our cities, counties and state.” 

Polls have shown the pandemic took a significant toll on the public’s desire to travel this summer, but a month or more of staying at home could change that, she said.

Wyoming Tourism Chief: Tourist Season Not Doomed; Summer is Critical

in News/Coronavirus/Tourism
4101

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s second largest industry — tourism — might be on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but spring could be the best time for it to happen, according to the executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism.

“Springtime tends to be a slower time of year,” said Diane Shober. “Our winter destinations are slowing down as the snow thaws, but there’s still enough snow that our summer destinations haven’t usually started ramping up, yet.”

With officials nationwide still debating the right time to roll back travel restrictions, Shober said it’s too early to determine the overall impact to Wyoming tourism, but many events, such as Cheyenne Frontier Days, are holding out for the best.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Frontier Days stays on schedule,” Shober said. 

As the state’s largest private-sector employer, tourism will be a key component of re-igniting Wyoming’s economy once stay-at-home orders dissipate nationwide. 

“This summer will be critical,” Shober said. “This is an export economy. People coming here from other places helps offset our revenues across our cities, counties and state.” 

In the meantime, the Office of Tourism is monitoring consumer data to determine when to start marketing again. 

“What we’re trying to understand is the feeling of the consumer as it relates to travel,” Shober explained.

Gov. Mark Gordon, during a news conference Wednesday, said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is estimating a 20% to 30% drop in tourism.

“Our economy is going to be different from this day forward for a while,” he said. “People aren’t traveling, they aren’t flying the way they used to.”

Polls have shown the pandemic took a significant toll on the public’s desire to travel this summer, but a month or more of staying at home could change that, she said. To keep the Cowboy State on the minds of potential travelers, the Office of Tourism is focusing its social media messaging on positive messages to remind people the West still exists on the horizon.

“All of our efforts right now are very organic, focusing on virtual, armchair travel,” Shober said. “We’re using inspirational photographs and feel-good stories to remind people you can still dream about your travels.” 

Plans to reopen Yellowstone National Park, one of Wyoming’s leading tourist destinations, are still up in the air, but Shober said many roads and services wouldn’t be open yet anyway because of park road conditions.

“Like us, park staff are playing it by ear,” she added. “There’s been no communication with us about if or when, but honestly, we haven’t pushed it. We know the timing is just not right.” 

To help industry partners get through the slump, Shober said the Office of Tourism is coordinating resources with commercial lenders, relief organizations and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services as well as hosting webinars about how businesses can get the most out of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We’re making sure we’re hearing what our industry needs and identifying what we’ll need to do next in a post-COVID-19 world,” she explained. “As people start to travel again, it’s not going to be like a light switch flipping back on. It will be more gradual, like a sunrise. That’s what we’re focusing on now.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Bill Sniffin: Tourism Sells State, Not Just To Visitors, But To Future Residents, Too

in Column/Tourism/Bill Sniffin
Tourism Conference
3200

By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily Publisher

During the course of my Wyoming business career, our companies have published and distributed over four million magazines promoting tourism in the Cowboy State.

My first magazine was started in 1970 called Big Mountain Country that sang the praises for Fremont County, home of the biggest mountains in the state.

Flash ahead 50 years, and I am attending the annual Wyoming Governor’s Tourism Conference in Cheyenne. Hundreds of members of the 30,000-plus people who work in the hospitality industry were there.

Over the years the tourism industry has faced many threats, the Yellowstone fires of 1988, come to mind. This year the Coronavirus will cut into Asian tourism. Up to now the threats to the state’s second largest industry have come from outside sources.

In a crazy twist, the biggest danger to the industry this year is coming from within – from some members of the Legislature. Because of tight money concerns, some outspoken elected folks think we are spending too much money promoting the state.

Actually we are lagging behind our neighbors. And we have a lot to lose by such crazy thinking.

A small amount of money spent with the state tourism department generates much more money – it is as simple as that. The more people we get here the more money they spend. That outside money circulates around our communities. It is a win-win.

One legislator even suggested getting rid of the state’s WOT (Wyoming Office of Tourism) and actually heard a few shouts of encouragement in the State Senate. You can’t make this stuff up.

A few decades ago Colorado got rid of its tourism department, which was a disaster. It took years for them to get it restored and then even more years for their hospitality industry to recover. They never tried it again.

In the past six months, the energy economy in Wyoming has taken some serious hits leaving folks from Gillette to Rock Springs and Cheyenne to Lovell nervous and pessimistic.

Gov. Mark Gordon has responded by saying he anticipates implementing budget restraints.

But all is not so dim when it comes to the state economy.

In fact the one aspect of Wyoming’s economy that is bright is so bright, it is positively blinding.

Tourism, the state’s number-two industry, has never seen years like 2015-2019.

More than 10 million people annually visited the Cowboy State. Yellowstone National Park now hits 4 million, which is a staggering number.

All these visitors spent a staggering $3 billion with motels, gas stations, gift shops and restaurants. In 2005, the total was $2 billion. This industry is really growing at a steady pace.

Tourists spend money in all parts of Wyoming. There truly is no place that does not benefit from the visitor.

Grand Teton Park and Jackson Hole are increasing. Even places like Fossil Butte near Kemmerer are up 10 percent, which shows the growth of cultural tourism.

All these tourists paid over $160 million in local and state taxes during 2019, which is an amazing number. Sales taxes, alone, are up over 10 percent.

The state’s investment in new welcome centers is paying off with increases in visitation.

During the recent tourism conference, members of the industry were warned the 2020 Legislature might try to cut the marketing budget of the tourism department because of the afore-mentioned dip in state revenues,

My advice to them would be to do just the opposite. If this is the one area of state government that is making money, why not spend even more and make even more money?

Wyoming’s tourism industry is supported on a three-legged stool of state spending, local county lodging board spending and industry spending. Our state is the envy of the country and it is obviously why – it is working!

It is mind-boggling that every so often we hear some shrill opponents who decry spending state money on tourism promotion. They are simply wrong. This is a program that works very well. We all need to get behind it and try to grow it even more.

Tourism as the state’s number-two industry boasts 31,000 jobs. As an industry, it creates new jobs in the rapidly disappearing middle class sector.

Tourism is great for Wyoming. Spending money to promote it is good for everyone. That’s WY!

Cheyenne’s Darren Rudloff Wins ‘Big Wyo’ Tourism Award

in News/Tourism
Darren Rudloff
3184

By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

The former head of Cheyenne’s tourism agency was named the winner of the top award from the state’s tourism industry Tuesday.

Darren Rudloff, former chief executive officer for Visit Cheyenne, was named winner of the “Big Wyo” Award, given to a member of the private sector who has done an outstanding job of promoting and improving the state’s tourism industry.

The award, given to Rudloff on Tuesday during the Governor’s Hospitality and Tourism Conference in Cheyenne, has been handed out annually since 1977, when it went to Harry Smith, at the time the owner of Cheyenne’s Hitching Post Inn. Other winners include Paul Smith, also a former owner of the Hitching Post Inn and Pat Sweeney, former owner of the Parkway Plaza in Casper.

Rudloff called the past winners “giants in our industry.”

“To be considered among them is truly amazing,” he said. “I don’t know if I really deserve this honor, but I’ll appreciate it and revere it for the rest of my life.”

The annual Hospitality and Tourism Conference, hosted by the Wyoming Office of Tourism and the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, ended Tuesday.

Governor Gordon Will Support New Lodging Tax to Promote Tourism

in News/Tourism/politics
Photo by Walter Sprague, Newcastle Newsletter Journal
2838
Photo by Walter Sprague, Newcastle Newsletter Journal

By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

“I can support it,” Governor Mark Gordon said when asked if he can get behind the concept of a statewide lodging tax to fund the future of tourism.

Gordon was addressing the members of the Wyoming Press Association during that group’s annual meeting in Casper.

“This is an important step for the tourism industry, and I support that industry,” he said.

Tourism is the state’s second largest industry behind energy production and has more employees, 33,000, than any other industry.

Photo by Walter Sprague, Newcastle Newsletter Journal

The new lodging tax proposal contains the following items:

• New title- Wyoming Tourism Account Funding.
• Joint Appropriations Committee sponsored bill
• Imposes a 5% statewide lodging tax (3% dedicated to tourism 2% guaranteed and replaces existing 2% local option lodging tax)
• Up to additional 2% local option lodging tax can be renewed every 4 years but would be vote of governing local government (city council or county commissioners depending if city or county wide tax) instead of vote of the electorate.
• State parks overnight camping would be subject to the tax (except annual resident camping passes, state fair campgrounds and county fair campgrounds- they would all be exempt)
• 80% of the 3% that is dedicated to tourism would be deposited into the newly created tourism account and shall be spent on Wyoming Office of Tourism/Wyoming Tourism Board (subject to legislative approval before spending every year)
• Remaining 20% would be deposited into newly created tourism reserve account. (Subject to legislative approval before spending every year) No more “tipping point”
• Local option lodging tax permissible expenditures amended to include “digital content, social media, staging of events, educational materials and other tourism related objectives including those identified as likely to facilitate tourism or enhance the visitor experience”
• The Bill, if passed, effective January 1, 2021
• Thresholds for when lodging tax shifts from 90/10 to 60/30/10 updated to 2020 dollar values (nothing changes, the thresholds have always been tied to the cost of living index and so thresholds are simply updated to what they are in 2020-they remain tied to index moving forward)
• All existing local option lodging taxes stay in place until their next scheduled election.

For adventure close at hand, Cheyenne residents hike or bike Hidden Falls

in Recreation/Tourism
2008

On the plains of southeast Wyoming access to mountainous hiking and biking can seem at a distance.

Curt Gowdy State Park offers Cheyenne residents and visitors from northern Colorado a great escape that’s just minutes from the capital city.

The Crow Creek Trail to Hidden Falls trail is a particular gem in the state park. The 3.6 mile out and back trail leads to a charming little waterfall and offers terrain that is fun for families but challenging enough that everyone gets to feel those muscles working.

It’s not an hours drive to get outside. This is your reminder, southeastern Wyoming, take in the fall weather while it lasts at Curt Gowdy State Park.

Missile alert facility to become Wyoming’s next tourist attraction

in News/Tourism/military
1302

A missile alert facility that once served as a home to three of America’s most powerful nuclear weapons is soon to become a Wyoming tourist attraction.

Quebec 1, a missile facility built in 1962 about 25 miles north of Cheyenne, will teach visitors about the history of the country’s nuclear weapons system, said Christina Bird of the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Division.

“We’re going to be open to the public, invite tours, invite school groups in to really learn about the history of missile alert facilities and the Peacekeeper missile system,” she said.

While active, the facility housed Minuteman I, Minuteman III and the multiple-warhead Peacekeeper missiles, along with launch controls and a crew of “missileers,” U.S. Air Force personnel who were in control of the devices.

The site was decommissioned in 2005. Since 2015, Wyoming’s Legislature has worked to put the facility in the hands of the state.

Even though the site is still officially in the hands of the federal government, state officials have worked to restore Quebec 1 to its original condition, complete with launch controls and the living quarters for the missileers who staffed the facility, Bird said.

“When F.E. Warren (Air Force Base) first started this process, this was an empty shell,” she said. “Leaps and bounds have happened in the last few years to bring this all back.

The site is expected to be transferred to the state by the Air Force later this year. Bird said the state will work to put up directional signs to the facility on Interstate 25.

Based on the number of visitors who tour other former missile alert facilities, state officials expect from 40,000 to 80,000 people to visit Quebec 1 every year, Bird said.

“We’re hopeful that we can accommodate as many visitors as want to come in,” she said.

Go to Top