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

From Devils Tower to Yellowstone – An Epic Wyoming Road Trip

by Valerie Vanr

Have fun on this Wyoming road trip between two must-see travel destinations, Devils Tower National Monument and Yellowstone National Park. You’ll discover historic places and awe-inspiring scenery along the way.

See the Medicine Wheel, sacred to many North American Indian tribes, located at Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark. Visit Cody, the home of Buffalo Bill. Check out the 5 museums at Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Enjoy a drink at the cherry wood bar in Cody’s Irma Hotel.

Get ready for an epic Wyoming Road Trip!

Irma Hotel porch with picnic tables

Wyoming Itinerary – Road Trip Highlights

This road trip itinerary takes you to all of these amazing places.

  • Devils Tower National Monument
  • Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark
  • Cody
  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West
  • Buffalo Bill Dam
  • Yellowstone National Park

The route primarily follows US 14. It includes two Wyoming Scenic Drives highlighting the state’s incredible natural beauty.

Wyoming Road Trip Map

Wyoming Road Trip Map
Click on the map for the full 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 plan and get the most out of your visit to the Tower.

Red sandstone cliffs with Devils Tower in background

Medicine Wheel / Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark

The Medicine Wheel, on a plateau near the top of Medicine Mountain, is a sacred site to many Native American.  This location is 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 75 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 it is between 300 and 800 years old.  Some think it points to the summer solstice sunrise.

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.

Medicine Wheel Trail

The trailhead is about 23 miles west of Burgess Junction. Travel US 14 Alternate for 21 miles. Forest Service Road 12 leads to the trailhead parking lot.

Laneway to path up slope of mountain to right
Sections of the trail to the medicine wheel are steep.

Walk west for about 1.5 miles to reach the wheel. The return walk takes about an hour. The trail surface is smooth gravel with several steep hills. Bring water and sunscreen. Water is not available on the trail or at the wheel and there is no shade. 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 you can see the top of Medicine Mountain and the FAA air traffic control radar station.

Couple mountain in background
The peak of Medicine Mountain and Medicine Wheel Trail

Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Drive

This 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.

Cody

Buffalo Bill Cody and a group of investors started the town 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.

Old Trail Town

Visit Cody’s original town site. See the 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.

Cody Heritage Museum

Learn Cody’s history from its founding to the 1960s in the Charles DeMaris Building, built in 1907.

Main street Cody Irma Hotel on left
The wide streets of Downtown Cody welcome you to explore what Cody has to offer.

Downtown Cody

It’s a great road trip stop for food and drink.  Options cater to practically every taste, diet and desire.

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. 

Dining room tables with bar behind
Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Irma Hotel.

On summer evenings try a unique Cody entertainment option.

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Review

Enjoy family-friendly musical entertainment featuring western, country, gospel and Americana music.

Cody Nite Rodeo

Watch the thrills and spills of real rodeo cowboys in action. This rodeo’s been entertaining crowds since 1938.

Person in front of Center of the West
The center is home to 5 world class museums.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

You can’t go wrong exploring 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!

Buffalo Bill Museum

Model of stadium museum displays background
The museum contains artifacts from his travels and shows, including a model of a Wild West show site.

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.

Whitney Western Art Museum

Table, paint brushes, easel, chair Fireplace in background
Frederic Remington’s New York studio, recreated by the Whitney. Remington’s art depicts the classic view of the American West.

The Whitney is one of the finest western art galleries in the United States. It highlights the beauty and culture of the American West.

Plains Indian Museum

Replica person on horse followed by person walking beside dog
Learn the role of dogs and horses when a tribe moved from place to place.

The 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.

Cody Firearms Museum

Museum display of guns, western boots and hats
The 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.

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

Draper Natural History Museum

Walk through this museum and follow the evolution of humans and nature in the Yellowstone area.

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 Kateri, a golden eagle. Bottom row: left to right are Monte, an eastern screech owl; Isham, a red-tailed hawk; and Jade, a bald eagle.

Draper Museum Raptor Experience

Learn about Wyoming’s most recognized predators. You’ll have the opportunity to meet several of the birds of prey who live in the museum’s raptor sanctuary up close.

Body of water with cliffs at sides
The dam created an 8,000 acre reservoir.

Buffalo Bill State Park

The park surrounds the reservoir created by the Buffalo Bill Dam. Fishing, boating, hiking and camping are all possible in the state park.

Buffalo Bill 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.

Learn about the dam, wildlife in the area and Buffalo Bill’s involvement with the project at the visitor center.

You can 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.

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. Old Faithful is the most famous. Yellowstone’s hot spots are all powered by heat from North America’s largest 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 your photos. See the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its Lower Falls which are higher than famous Niagara Falls.

Visit this incredible place and you’ll remember it for a lifetime!

More Wyoming Attractions

North eastern Wyoming is full of interesting places to visit. We’ve listed them roughly east to west as you’ll find them along this road trip.

Vore Buffalo Jump

To the east of Devils Tower, visit this sinkhole turned archaeological site. 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.

Thunder Basin National Grassland

There are plenty of hiking, hunting and fishing opportunities in the grassland south of Devils Tower. The area does not have developed campgrounds but dispersed camping is allowed.

Fort Phil Kearny Historic Site

Learn about the Indian Wars and the Bozeman Trail at Fort Phil Kearny. This replica fort is built to scale on the original site just off I-90 between Buffalo and Sheridan.

Trail End State Historic Site

In Sheridan, visit this 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.

Bighorn National Forest

The 1.1 million-acre forest has miles of streams and rivers for your swimming and fishing pleasure. Hike some of the 1200 miles of trails. Stay at one of the many Forest Service-managed campgrounds or lodges. What a great vacation destination!

Hogback Interpretive Site

See the fantastic views of the open Sheridan Valley at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains. This viewpoint west of Dayton is the perfect place to get out of the car for a good stretch.

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.

Shell Falls Interpretive Site

Shell Creek drops about 120 feet creating a beautiful waterfall. Explore the interpretive trail about 20 miles southwest of Burgess Junction.

Bighorn Lake

Bighorn Lake hills in background
Bighorn Lake fills all 72 miles of Bighorn Canyon.

Enjoy fishing the long narrow lake. 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.

Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center

Wild mustangs roam unfenced on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Learn about these wild horses and their history at the center, just outside of Lovell.

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp

Exhibits explain what life was like for Japanese Americans incarcerated here during World War II. An interpretive trail winds through the original camp structures.

Shoshone National Forest

The 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.

Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway

Road through mountain valley
The scenery on the byway is magnificent!

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.

Absaroka Mountains

Grassland to jagged cliffs in background
Geologists study the easy-to-reach Absaroka Mountains to see parts of volcanos they can’t get to when they are active.

This jagged mountain range is all that remains of the Absaroka 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.

Wyoming Attractions Map

Statue Buffalo Bill, woman, man on bench
When you visit Cody, share a bench with Buffalo Bill!


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