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Wyoming Stops on the Way

Off the Radar Along the Oregon Trail in Wyoming

From Glendo to Chugwater, this Pony Express route in southeast Wyoming's Platte County is full of little-known gems.

As you drive Interstate 25 in Wyoming from the towns of Glendo to Chugwater, you’re passing through parts of the West you’ve never seen pop up on your Instagram feed. It’s the perfect place to have an unchartered adventure.

Glendo Reservoir in Platte County, Wyoming
Glendo ReservoirCourtesy Platte County Chamber

Make a Splash in Glendo State Park

Disguised by miles of prairie, you could drive right by and not know you were passing incredible spots for recreation. Glendo State Park, which includes the picturesque Glendo Reservoir, is the perfect place to camp, hike, mountain bike and get out on the water to explore the gorgeous red rock shoreline. Head to Rooch’s Marina where you can rent everything from pontoon boats and stand up paddleboards to innertubes. The marina also has a café serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and beer.

Reminders of the Oregon Trail

Ruts from wagons traveling the Oregon Trail west in Platte County, Wyoming
Ruts from wagons traveling the Oregon Trail west almost 100 years agoCourtesy Platte County Chamber

Surrounding the town of Guernsey are two can’t miss historical stops. The Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site and Register Cliff State Historic Site are two physical reminders of the hundreds of thousands of pioneers that made the journey west on the Oregon Trail in the late 1800s. At the Oregon Trail Ruts site, you’ll see six-foot-deep paths carved by wagon wheels in the sandstone. At Register Cliff, the names of travelers are etched into the rock.

Explore a Trail in Guernsey State Park

Head to nearby Guernsey State Park for a gorgeous hike or mountain bike before continuing on.

Mountain biking on a trail in Guernsey State Park
Mountain biking on a trail in Guernsey State Park Photo: Platte County Chamber

This park was home to many Native American tribes, including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Oglala and Brule Sioux. You can still see tipi rings and other cultural artifacts in the park. Remember, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints – removing artifacts is illegal.

Best Wyoming Grub

Chugwater Soda Fountain in Platte County, Wyoming
Chugwater Soda FountainCourtesy Platte County Chamber

Need a pick-me-up after all that exploring? Head to Hilltop Bar and Grill in Wheatland, which serves up locally sourced beef.

“They truly have the best hamburgers you’ll ever taste,” says Platte County marketing director, Kit Armour. “And their hand-cut fries are to die for.”

Afterwards, head to the Conoco Station on 16th Street for local and old-time souvenirs and soft-serve ice cream. Take Armour’s advice and get vanilla and orange sorbet for a Dreamsicle-like treat.

Downtown Wheatland is soon-to-be-designated a National Historic District. Its locally owned boutiques, spas, restaurants and antique stores make it an excellent place to spend the afternoon.

Looking for more sweets? Nearby Chugwater is home to Wyoming’s oldest-operating soda fountain. Order a hand-dipped ice cream cone, a shake or a malt and get ready for old-fashioned, sugar-induced euphoria.

Visit a Pony Express Stop

Painting of Pony Express rider
Courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration

It wasn’t easy to establish the Pony Express, the legend of which far outlasted its run of only 19 months [the invention of the telegraph in 1861 replaced it]. Seventy-five horses were needed between Missouri and California, with a fresh horse every 10-15 miles and a new rider every 75-100 miles. On April 3, 1860, the first official mail delivery contained 49 letters. It took 10 days to get across eight states. Get your National Park Service passport stamped at Fort Laramie, one of the Pony Express stops.

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For more information:
Stop by the Platte County Visitors’ Center in Wheatland at I-25, Exit 78.