Home USA Devils Tower to Yellowstone – An Epic Wyoming Road Trip

Devils Tower to Yellowstone – An Epic Wyoming Road Trip

by Valerie Vanr

On this Wyoming Road Trip discover historic places and awe-inspiring natural scenery between Devils Tower National Monument and Yellowstone National Park.

See Bighorn Medicine Wheel, sacred to many North American Indian tribes. Visit Cody, the home of Buffalo Bill and check out the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Get ready for an epic Wyoming Road Trip between two must-see travel destinations!

Wyoming Itinerary – Road Trip Highlights

This road trip follows primarily US14 visiting these amazing places and traveling through incredible natural beauty. The distance noted in parentheses is the driving distance from the previous stop.

We recommend a minimum of 3 days for this 370-mile Wyoming road trip between Devils Tower and Yellowstone National Park.

Wyoming Road Trip Map

Wyoming map road trip starred attractions
Click on the map for an interactive version.

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower is a great starting point for any Wyoming Road Trip. Enjoy its short hikes and see this unique place. The tower’s color changes depending on the position of the sun and the weather conditions making it a photographer’s delight.

Be sure to check out our article How to Visit and Hike Devils Tower National Monument to get the most out of a visit to the Tower.

Green meadow tower background forest around

Devils Tower to Bighorn National Forest

On this section of the road trip, enjoy the wide open vistas on Highway 14 or Interstate 90 through grassland and small towns.

Visit Vore Buffalo Jump, a sinkhole turned archaeological site 45 miles to the east of Devils Tower. In the early 1970s, archaeologists found about 15 feet of perfectly preserved bison bones. Plains Indian tribes killed bison by stampeding the animals over the cliff. The tribes used all parts of the bison to survive winter.

Left path to building in grassy hole right archaeological dig
The layers of bone and stone artifacts provide information about the lives of the people who stampeded bison into the sinkhole.

South of Devils Tower, Thunder Basin National Grassland has plenty of hiking, hunting and fishing opportunities. The area does not have developed campgrounds but dispersed camping is allowed.

At the Fort Phil Kearny Historic Site, learn about the Indian Wars and the Bozeman Trail. This replica fort is built to scale on the original site just off I-90 between the small towns of Buffalo and Sheridan.

In Sheridan, visit the Trail End State Historic Site, an elegant 13,700-square foot home. See how the wealthy lived in the first half of the 20th century.

Forested valley
The Bighorn Basin is surrounded by 6 mountain ranges and offers incredible scenic beauty.

The 1.1 million-acre Bighorn National Forest has miles of streams and rivers perfect for swimming and fishing. Hike some of the 1200 miles of trails. Stay at one of the many Forest Service-managed campgrounds or lodges. To learn more this great vacation destination, visit Recreation.gov’s Bighorn National Forest webpage.

Bighorn National Forest to Cody

The Hogback Interpretive Site, west of Dayton, is the perfect viewpoint to get out of the car for a good stretch. See the fantastic views of the open Sheridan Valley at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains.

Road follows curve down mountain tilted layers of red rock meet mountain base
The red rock in the distance is sedimentary rock from an ancient sea floor which was pushed up when the Bighorn Mountains were formed.

The Shell Falls Interpretive Site is about 20 miles southwest of Burgess Junction on US14. See the beautiful 120-foot high waterfall on Shell Creek and explore the interpretive trail.

The Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Drive is the section of US14 Alternate from Burgess Junction to the western border of Bighorn National Forest. The panoramic views of the Bighorn and Absoraka Mountains are stunning. The passage is steep and winding with a maximum 10% grade in some places. It is closed from late fall through early spring.

Medicine Wheel / Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark

This site, formerly known as Bighorn Medicine Wheel, sits on a plateau near the top of Medicine Mountain. It is sacred to many Native Americans and one of the best examples of medicine wheels in tribal culture in North America.

Stones in circle with spokes to central hub
Medicine Wheel became a National Historic Landmark in 1970

Pieces of limestone are laid out in a rough circle with cairns at points along the circle and within it. It is about 80 feet across and has 28 spokes at varying intervals from a center cairn. The builders, its original purpose or even its precise age are unknown.  Archaeologists believe the wheel is between 300 and 800 years old.  Some think it points to the summer solstice sunrise. It is believed the Medicine Mountain area has been visited by Native Americans and their ancestors for 7000 years.

The medicine wheel is part of a larger group of related sites and indigenous traditional use areas in the Bighorn Mountains. Today Native American ceremonies are held here. Prayer cloths and offerings are often placed around or in the wheel.

Left prayer bundle stuck into post right animal antlers in cairn
The wheel is an ancient Native American spiritual site. Offerings are left during ceremonies here.

The only way to get to the Medicine Wheel is to walk a gravel trail for about 1.5 miles. The trailhead is about 23 miles west of Burgess Junction. Travel US 14 Alternate for 21 miles to Forest Service Road 12. Turn right and drive to the parking lot. Physically-challenged people may drive or be driven to the Wheel.

Walk west to reach the wheel. The total 3-mile return walk takes about an hour. The trail surface is smooth gravel with several steep hills. Bring water and sunscreen as there is no water or shade either on the trail or at the wheel. At an altitude of 9500+ feet the weather is unpredictable at any time of year. Always bring a jacket. There has been snow in the summer.

The walk is worth it. Amazing views of the Bighorn Basin are seen from any spot along the trail. From the wheel, see the top of Medicine Mountain and the FAA air traffic control radar station.

Laneway to path up slope of mountain to right
Sections of the trail to the Medicine Wheel are steep.
Couple mountain in background
The peak of Medicine Mountain and Medicine Wheel Trail

About 15 miles to the west of the National Forest boundary, US14 Alternate crosses Bighorn Lake, the southern limit of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The long, narrow lake is the a popular fishing spot. For several months each year the extreme south end of the lake is dry. Mud-dwelling amphibians and insects take full advantage. They provide an abundant food source for the lake’s many species of fish.

The lake fills the full 72 miles of Bighorn Canyon and was created by the construction of the Yellowtail Dam completed in 1967. The dam provides flood control and generates electricity. The new lake created new recreational activities so, in 1968, the national recreation area was created. The area’s trout fishery has become world class. Each year, tens of thousands enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and more.

Bighorn Lake hills in background
Bighorn Lake fills all 72 miles of Bighorn Canyon and is the southern limit of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

Just outside of Lovell, visit the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center. The educational center provides information about the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains and their history. Wild mustangs still freely roam in the Pryor Mountains north of Lovell.

Just east of Cody, the Heart Mountain Interpretive Centre explain what life was like for Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp during World War II. An interpretive trail winds through the original camp structures.


Enjoy a day in Cody, a town started by Buffalo Bill Cody and a group of investors in the 1890s. They understood the area’s potential with its rich soil, incredible natural landscape and abundant wildlife. They knew the location’s closeness to Yellowstone National Park would bring tourists.

Main street Cody Irma Hotel on left
Downtown Cody is the place to fill your food and beverage needs.
Statue Buffalo Bill, woman, man on bench
Share a bench with Buffalo Bill!

Visit Old Trail Town, Cody’s original town site. See relocated historic buildings from Wyoming’s past including Butch Cassidy’s hideout for his Hole-in-the-Wall gang. These frontier buildings highlight the history and lifestyle of the old west.

The Cody Heritage Museum presents Cody’s history from its founding to the 1960s. It is in the 1907 Charles DeMaris Building in downtown Cody.

Downtown Cody has plenty of food and beverage options catering every taste, diet and desire. For some history with dinner, visit the Irma Hotel. Visit the dining room for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Check out the cherry wood bar, a gift from Great Britain’s Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill Cody. He often had tryouts for his Wild West shows just outside its doors. 

Irma Hotel porch with picnic tables
Stay at the Irma Hotel in rooms that have housed world famous personalities. You can even stay in Buffalo Bill’s private suite.
Dining room tables with bar behind
Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Irma Hotel.

On summer evenings try a unique Cody entertainment option. Enjoy Dan Miller’s Cowboy Review. It’s family-friendly musical entertainment featuring western, country, gospel and Americana music. The Cody Nite Rodeo has been entertaining crowds since 1938. Watch the thrills and spills of real rodeo cowboys in action, every night from June 1st to August 31st, in Stampede Park,

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Explore 5 top-quality museums under one roof and for one admission price. These museums cover all things ‘western’. It’s a great place to spend the entire day!

At the Buffalo Bill Museum, learn about the life of Buffalo Bill Cody and his famous Wild West show. He showcased his love for the American West in these huge shows. They toured North America and even Europe in the early 1900’s.

Person in front of Center of the West
The center is home to 5 world class museums.
Model of stadium museum displays background
The museum contains artifacts from his travels and shows, including a model of a Wild West show site.

The Whitney Western Art Museum is one of the finest western art galleries in the United States. It highlights the beauty and culture of the American West. The Plains Indian Museum explains many of the Plains people’s culture, heritage and continuing traditions. It is one of the largest collections of Native American art and artifacts in the US.

Table, paint brushes, easel, chair Fireplace in background
Frederic Remington’s New York studio, recreated by the Whitney Western Art Museum. Remington’s art depicts the classic view of the American West.
Replica person on horse followed by person walking beside dog
Learn the role of dogs and horses in a group’s ability to migrate from place to place at the Plains Indian Museum.

A massive renovation at the Cody Firearms Museum in 2018-19 updated the display of one of the most comprehensive collections of American firearms in the world.

Museum display of guns, western boots and hats
The Firearms Museum’s displays explain the history of many kinds of firearms.
Large room with vertical and horizontal drawers of guns
Cases and cases of different types of firearms are organized by type and manufacturer.

Walk through the Draper Natural History Museum and follow the evolution of humans and nature in the Yellowstone area. Meet and learn about several of Wyoming’s most recognized birds of prey who live in the museum’s raptor sanctuary up close at the Raptor Experience.

Top: handler and golden eagle. Bottom left-right: Eastern screech owl , red-tailed hawk, bald eagle.
Some of the Draper’s raptors. At the top is a golden eagle. Bottom row: left to right are an eastern screech owl; a red-tailed hawk; and a bald eagle.

Cody to Yellowstone National Park

The land around the reservoir created by the Buffalo Bill Dam is Buffalo Bill State Park. Enjoy fishing, boating, hiking and camping in the park. Learn about the dam, wildlife in the area and Buffalo Bill’s involvement with the project at the visitor center.

Body of water with cliffs at sides
The state park is surrounds the reservoir created by the dam.
Buffalo Bill Dam wood collecting on water at base
The dam is 200 feet wide at the top and narrows to 70 feet at the bottom.

Walk along the top of the dam. Completed in 1910, it was the tallest concrete dam of its time with a height of 325 feet.  Look down to the Shoshone River in the very narrow, steep-sided Shoshone Canyon.

River in bottom of steep-sided canyon
Buffalo Bill Dam sits at the western end of the Shoshone Canyon.
Look down dam to river below
Careful, the base of the dam is 350 feet below. 25 feet were added to the dam’s original 325 feet in the 1980s.

Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway

The byway cuts across Shoshone National Forest through the Wapiti Valley. It hugs the North Fork of the Shoshone River, known for its great trout fishing.

The Shoshone National Forest stretches from the Montana border south to Lander with Yellowstone as its western border covering about 2.4 million acres.  Over half of the forest is nationally-designated wilderness area.

Enjoy over 1600 miles of outstanding trails. Visit sagebrush flats, dense forests, pristine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and see snow-covered mountain peaks. Grizzly bears, black bears, elk, deer, bison, bighorn sheep, eagles and peregrine falcons all live here. Guest ranches, lodges, motels, and campgrounds let you stay close by.

The jagged Absaroka Mountains to the north of the scenic byway is all that remains of than ancient volcanic field. Volcanic activity 35 to 55 million year ago created a lava field 10,000 feet thick over 9000 square miles to the east of the Rocky Mountains.

Road through mountain valley
The road travels beside the North Fork of the Shoshone River. The mountain scenery is magnificent.
Grassland to jagged cliffs in background
Easy access to the Absaroka Mountains allows geologists to study volcanic structures they cannot see in an active volcano.

Yellowstone National Park

This is one of the top destinations for travelers in the United States. Yellowstone National Park is a unique mixture of hot springs, geysers, wildlife and natural beauty.  It’s the first US National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Yellowstone has half of the world’s hydrothermal features. The park has the largest concentration of geysers, with Old Faithful its most famous. Yellowstone’s hot spots are all powered by heat from North America’s supervolcano, centered under the park.

Yellowstone's colorful Grand Prismatic hot spring
Grand Prismatic Spring, from the overlook on the Fairy Falls trail, is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone provides the rare opportunity to see wild animals in their natural environments. Grizzly bears, wolves, herds of bison and elk are often seen from the park road. Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley has been called the Serengeti of North America.

The park has some of nature’s most stunning landscapes. Snowy mountain peaks of several ranges of the Rocky Mountains make a great backdrop for photos. See the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its Lower Falls which are higher than famous Niagara Falls.

Visit this incredible place and remember it for a lifetime!

Visiting South Dakota? Check out our 1-Week South Dakota Road Trip!

Man truck on road Dakota badlands background

Interested in more Itineraries? Sign up here.