You’ve experienced Yellowstone and its stunning wildlife, geyser basins and sweeping landscapes. But you’ve also experienced traffic jams, crowds on the boardwalks and a lack of parking spaces that made your local mall parking lot seem like a dream. For beauty without the crowds, head to Wind River Country, connected by a handful of authentic towns like Dubois, Lander, Riverton and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Don’t miss the two historic mining towns—South Pass City and Atlantic City—where you can pan for gold, see bullet holes in the Atlantic City Mercantile ceiling, and tour The Carissa, a mine that boomed in the late 1860s.
“Wind River Country is the experience you originally thought you’d have in Yellowstone,” says longtime Lander local Paula McCormick.
One hundred and 50 years ago, miners streamed into South Pass City in search of gold. While the boom was a short-lived two years, the early settlers left a number of buildings that make South Pass City State Historic Site one of the West’s best preserved mining towns. Explore it on the 1.6-mile Flood & Hindle Mining Trail featuring interpretive signs. Down the road dine in Atlantic City at Miner’s Grubstake or Atlantic City Mercantile, a restaurant with walls covered by old mining tools, lanterns and photos of western legends like Butch Cassidy.
In the valley, the towns of Lander and Dubois give you an incredible access to the Wind River Range hiking trails while the Wind River Casino outside of Riverton offers free Native American dance performances every Tuesday evening in the summer.
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