Did you know, one of America’s best kept secrets might be in Southern Wyoming? Indeed, much of the state’s tourism is to the north in the national parks, while the southern half of the state enjoys a slower lifestyle – but the south offers much you don’t know about. Here’s why you should visit Carbon County, Wyoming.
Carbon County, WY: Rawlins
Our trip started in northern Utah on a warm August morning. Cruising I80 toward Rawlins, there were signs everywhere saying, “Buckle up, Buttercup”. I love this about Wyoming. They have a great sense of humor, and I saw it all over.
The town of Rawlins has particularly interesting history behind it, and is home to the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum. Right on 500 W Walnut St, the museum contains hundreds of intriguing artifacts from the prison, including inmate artwork, profiles of breakouts, and even a glossary of prison terms. It’s brilliant, especially the prison terms.
Carbon County, WY: Saratoga
We moved south, and left Rawlins. Our drive down was caressed by vast open spaces and the towering peaks of the Snowy Range. In these situations, it’s more than appropriate to wind down your window and blast out country music, cowboy style. Freedom.
Later we arrived in Saratoga and checked into our hotel: the Historic Wolf Hotel and Saloon. Indeed, they call it a ‘saloon’ and not a ‘bar’ – there are two swinging doors to enter. Our evening plans were in Riverside, where a music festival was happening in what felt like a backyard – WHAT Fest.
We were met by a variety of talented bands, some local, and some from further afield. On top of this, a massive bonfire burning, everyone huddled around, talking as if a bunch of best friends. The delicious BBQ topped it all off – along with the great community vibe.
WHAT fest is a great time, and well worth it, for so many reasons. Not least because it’s laid back, kid-friendly, and everyone has a smile on their face. What more can you ask for when it comes to festivals? It all kicks off in July, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Carbon County, WY: Hobo Hot Pools
The next day the temperature was cool, and perfect for a visit to Hobo Hot Pools in Saratoga. Hobo Hot Pools are free, 24-hour hot springs on the banks of the 310-mile-long Platte River. There are two main pools to indulge in, but my personal preference was sitting in the river section, right where the hot water entered. Idyllic, calming, and serene, I highly recommend checking Hobo out.
Carbon County, WY: Battle Pass
After Hobo Hot Pools, we drove to Battle Pass, in the nearby Snowy Range. A thunderstorm came over while we ventured up, and it led to a dramatic display of cloud formations in the moody sky above. All this and the light was stunning the whole way.
When we reached the top, we were met by the arrival of Ride the Divide. Ride and Divide is an antique tractor ride from Savery to Encampment, with a stop at Battle Pass. Veteran rider, Annette Dunckly, whose father started the rally 13 years ago, had this to say of it: “it makes you slow down and smell the forest”.
From roaming its landscape, this motto seems to ring true for all of Carbon County. The lifestyle here just runs at a slower, more considered pace. For the people and visitors of Carbon County, relaxing is a top priority, as is having a good time.
Carbon County, WY: Outdoor recreation & Entertainment
The outdoor recreation in Carbon County features world class fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and camping. If you’re looking for more entertainment, great live music is hosted throughout the year, along with major pool tournaments, beer festivals, museum & history supported events, and much more.
If you’re planning to visit Wyoming, there’s no reason not to check out this gem, nestled at the edge of Medicine Bow National Forest. Because of its abundant beauty, its culture, cuisine and history, it’s a destination I’ll not soon be forgetting.
This story has been created in partnership with CARBON COUNTY, WYOMING.