This summer, carve your own path in Washakie County, Wyoming. Instead of battling road trip traffic in more populated locales, point your car toward the Bighorn Mountains in the heart of cowboy country. You’ll find first-class events all summer long, including the Ten Sleep 4th of July Rodeo that will bring western culture to life before your very eyes. Incredible outdoor access, great home-cooked food, and plenty of Washakie hospitality top off the best weekend of the season.
This story was created in partnership with Washakie County Visitors Council.
Day One: Explore the Outdoors in Washakie County
Recreate Alongside the Sweet 16 Highway
On your first day, play the tourist and take to Highway 16—one of the area’s most treasured spots. Also called the “Sweet 16 Highway,” this scenic route leads travelers east into the stunning Bighorn Mountains. Located between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorns provide rich diversity in terms of natural ecosystems. Here, high alpine lakes and meadows meet desert grasslands below—punctuated by dramatic cliffs in between. The rugged and picturesque backbone of the mountains has been designated the Cloud Peak Wilderness, which if you ask us, adds to the appeal!
All this bounty draws visitors from all over the West to enjoy. Climbers, anglers, hikers, hunters, and more all visit Washakie County to enjoy its solitude and access. Spend the day exploring the area, whether you opt to have a casual picnic or challenge your legs on miles of trails. You can even spend some time on the water, fishing or paddleboarding on Meadowlark Lake. Remember to always follow Leave No Trace Principles while recreating in Washakie County!
Refuel and Rest in Ten Sleep
After a full day of fun, refuel in the town of Ten Sleep. You might try Ten Sleep Brewing Co, a charismatic place with local beer on tap and food trucks all summer long. (They even have camping spots.) Otherwise, head to Sackett’s Wood-Fired Pizza, or Sleepy Coyote Cafe and Bar for equally delectable fare. That night, find lodging anywhere in Ten Sleep or the nearby city of Worland to prepare for tomorrow’s big event.
Day Two: Attend a Summer Festival
If you’ve planned your trip to Washakie County around an event, today is the day! There are three big events that take place each summer and each are worth making a trip out of: Ten Sleep 4th of July Rodeo, Nowoodstock, and the Pepsi WY State Championship BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.
True Cowboy Culture: Ten Sleep 4th of July Parade and Rodeo
If you’ve seen western culture depicted on television, or in popular culture but have never experienced it for yourself, there’s no better place to immerse in it than at the Ten Sleep 4th of July Rodeo. Alternatively, if you’ve seen the Daddy of ‘Em All but want to get more up-close-and-personal, this is for you. In fact, famous cowboys have been known to frequent the grounds! Billed as one of the best small town rodeos in the nation, this is a can’t-miss for anyone interested in cowboy culture.
Tunes Galore: Nowoodstock
It’s a music festival—with parking. Need we say more? Swing by the stage in Ten Sleep this August for a smorgasbord of sound, from blues to bluegrass. Tickets are only $40 for the entire three-day event, but even if you only catch an afternoon, you’re sure to be delighted. Bring your lawn chair and enjoy a bite from a food truck. A real institution at the base of the Bighorns, Nowoodstock is about to run for the 22nd time this summer and, like most everything in Washakie County, is perfect for the whole family.
Come Hungry: Pepsi Wyoming State Championship BBQ and Bluegrass Festival
If you like to do it all, the Pepsi Wyoming State Championship BBQ and Bluegrass Festival in Worland is for you. This event includes a BBQ cookoff, car show, and even a 5K run along with appearances by some of the nation’s premier bluegrass acts. Whatever you do, don’t miss the people’s choice sampling at 2:30pm on Saturday—or the kids’ cookoff that morning. Mark your calendars in August for this finger-licking weekend!
Day Three: Sample the History and Flavors of Washakie County
Spend your final day in Washakie County exploring its unexpected highlights: including Washakie Museum and Cultural Center and Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery.You might even prefer to play a round of golf! From discovering the larger-than-life creatures (wooly mammoths) who used to roam these hills to gaining an understanding of trout management in Wyoming, today is both educational and eye opening.
After you’ve expanded your horizons, dig in to more delicious local eats. Maria’s Tacos serves up authentic and fresh Mexican dishes, while Big Horn Mountain Stage Company offers specialty coffees, cold drinks, and Wyoming themed novelties and T-shirts in a National Historic Landmark building from 1903. Then, it’s on to your next adventure. Perhaps you’ll continue on to Yellowstone National Park, or return to the Bighorns to extend your visit and drive the entirety of the Sweet 16. Mark your calendars to do it all again next year!