Dubois: The Best of Mountain Towns in the Fall

When the only crowds are wildlife, the only lines are trails leading into the forest, and the streets are crowded with the waves of locals. We’re big fans of this mountain town in the shoulder season.
Prepared By:

Casey A.

Traveler, writer, editor

Autumn is a raucous time in Dubois, Wyoming. Crowds gather and fights break out. Screaming echoes through the forests. Flashy colors stand out at every turn. It’s precisely the idyllic, peaceful getaway you’re seeking, once you consider the crowds are herds of wildlife, the fights are dramatic displays between bighorn sheep rams, the screaming is the bugle of bull elk, and the gaudy colors are donned by aspen groves and cottonwood trees.

This story was created in partnership with Destination Dubois.

Dubois, Wyoming, is situated just down a scenic byway from Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to the preservation of that habitat, wildlife also thrives beyond the park’s borders. Combined with less traffic and smaller crowds in Dubois, your likelihood of spotting moose, foxes, kestrels, and the like during your vacation here is high.

One creature of particular fame in Dubois is the affectionately called the bighorn. Dubois is home to the largest wintering herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in North America. Though you can spot them in the foothills, cliffs, and mountains surrounding Dubois year-round, fall is a special season. During this time of year, the rams fight for the attention of ewes by bashing their curled horns into one another as hard as they can. This dramatic display of force is visually and audibly stunning.

Group of bighorn sheep in autumn near Dubuois Wyoming

Photo by Bill Sincavage

One of the best ways to witness the bighorn sheep rut is to visit the National Bighorn Sheep Center in the heart of Dubois. The knowledgeable staff will teach you all about the sheep of the world, then they can take you on a tour to find and watch the local herd.

In addition to the Bighorn Sheep Center, the town of Dubois hosts a great deal of history and knowledge to share with visitors. The cozy Dubois Museum tells the story of its first human residents, the impact of the railroad and the nation’s first national park on the community, and more. The National Museum of Military Vehicles is impressive in both its size and its interactive displays.

After you’ve had your fill of education, the town itself feels warm and cheerful even with the chill of autumn in the air—the perfect place to stroll the sidewalks and admire local artists’ work.

Moon rising over Main Street in Dubois

Photo by Bill Sincavage

After expanding your horizons in town, look to the horizon: purple and orange badlands reach above town, beckoning hikers and mountain bikers. The surrounding forests hold waterfalls and wildlife—including those eager elk calling out to the season’s mates. Cool nights and mild days make fall weather ideal for all-day adventuring. Take your time—and your camera—to soak up as much of the foliage coloring as possible. You may even want to book your stay at a local dude or guest ranch to get the most out of your time in the area, from wildlife watching to horseback riding and fishing.

Dubois badlands sunset

Photo by Bill Sincavage

Though Dubois has enough adventure and exploration to fill days of vacation, a jaunt over Togwotee Pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks is an easy, beautiful drive. As a bonus, the shoulder season of fall is a stunning, peaceful time to visit the parks with Dubois as your home base. Before you know it, you’ll be planning a return visit in the winter!

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