Classic Western scenery, fascinating wildlife, and interesting history make the area in and around Green River and Rock Spring, Wyoming, a fun getaway for families, history buffs, and nature lovers alike. This southwestern region of the state offers open prairies, winding rivers, sand dunes, and rocky canyons that make for scenic driving tours or road trips. Meanwhile, the miles-long Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a gorgeous playground in every season. You'll also find tons of interesting historical attractions in the area and plenty of other great activities to keep the whole family amused all year long.
Herds of wild horses, of both Spanish and American heritage, roam the lands around Green River and Rock Springs. Travelers with a sturdy, high-clearance vehicle can enjoy viewing the horses while driving the Pilot Butte Wildhorse Scenic Loop, which provides the opportunity to view not only the wild horses but other wildlife along with gorgeous Wyoming scenery.
The Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scene Loop starts at the north end of Green River and runs along State Roads 53 and 69 to Clearview Acres. Much of this route follows gravel roads, so those who don't care to drive on rough back roads can visit the BLM wild horse viewing area in Rock Springs.
Beginning just south of Green River and Rock Springs and extending south past the Wyoming-Utah border, the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is comprised of a huge reservoir along the Green River and the lands surrounding it.
The scenic gorge is perfect for both water and land recreation, providing abundant opportunity for fishing, boating, camping, hiking, and horseback riding. Numerous recreation guides and outfitters are available to take you on your adventure of choice or provide you with gear and transportation. The wildlife and scenery of Flaming Gorge can also be experienced on a scenic driving tour, circling the reservoir via Wyoming Highway 530 and US Highway 191.
The dry shrub prairie and wet river ecosystems protected by the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge are home to a long list of wildlife that includes sage grouse, Western meadowlarks, moose, pronghorn, badgers, and golden eagle. Additionally, migrating waterfowl stop by at various times during the year including Trumpeter swans, ducks of all kinds, and leggy shorebirds.
The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is located about 32 miles northwest of Green River along State Road 372. Visitors to this wildlife refuge can tour the Seedskadee Environmental Education Center, paddle a length of Green River, take an auto tour that parallels the river, or walk the trail network.
The Killpecker Sand Dunes are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and while portions of the dunes area are highly-protected wildlife habitat, some areas are open for recreation. The hills of sand provide great fun for off-highway vehicles (OHVs) of all kinds, but hiking and horseback riding are other popular activities.
The Killpecker Sand Dunes are located about 20 miles up Chilton Road from North Rock Springs. Access to the dunes is limited to OHVs, so you won't be able to take most rental cars to enjoy the sands. Instead, consider renting a sports vehicle for the day from a shop like Dusty Trails All-Terrain Vehicle Rentals in Rock Springs.
Housed in the stately, gorgeous structure in downtown Rock Springs, this local history museum displays exhibits that include artifacts from its permanent collection as well as a number of special shows throughout the year. The building itself, originally constructed in 1894, once housed city hall, the police station, the local jail, the fire station, a judge’s chambers, the courtroom, and the city's municipal offices. The focus of the Rock Springs Historical Museum now is retelling the local history of the city, including the coal mining industry's influence on its foundation, Butch Cassidy's residence in town, and the people and institutions of the community's past and present.
One part art museum, one part performance venue, the Community Fine Arts Center in Rock Springs hosts a variety of exhibits, shows, concerts, and special events throughout the year. The Center's permanent art collection includes works by many prominent American artists including Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses. Different art exhibits and workshops fill the Community Fine Arts Center's calendar, along with music, dance, and theater acts from across the country. Check the official website for more information on upcoming events, ticket prices, and box office hours.
Located about an hour and a half northwest of Rock Springs near Diamondville in a region of Wyoming rich in fossils and interesting geology, the Fossil Butte National Monument is a former lakebed whose remaining sediment still reveals ancient fish, birds, insects, and plants each year. Start your Fossil Butte adventure at the visitor center, where you'll see hundreds of fossils on display along with informative films and hands-on activities. Trails within the National Monument provide the opportunity to get out and observe the region's unique geology and local wildlife, but you can also take the seven-mile scenic driving tour, which has wayside interpretive exhibits along the route.
Established as a fur trading post in 1843, Ford Bridger was an important stop on America's pioneer trails—including the Mormon, California, and Oregon Trails. Its history as a trading post as well as the fort's era as a military facility, are preserved at this historic site that is now a part of the Wyoming State Parks system.
Located in Mountain View—about 70 miles west of Rock Springs on Highway 80—the Fort Bridger Historic Site is a popular destination for history and architecture buffs alike. During your visit, tour restored and reconstructed buildings, view the fort's archaeological activity, and spend time learning more about Fort Bridger at the museum. The fort also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, and in fact, the annual Fort Bridger Rendezvous is one of the largest mountain man festivals in the United States.
Bear River State Park is a lovely day-use park featuring a network of paved and dirt trails that are popular for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing throughout the year—depending on the season and weather. The park also keeps small captive herds of bison and elk, which guests can see from the comfort of their vehicles and safely from the paved paths through the property. Located an hour and a half west of Rock Springs on Highway 80 in Evanston, Wyoming, Bear River State Park makes a great day trip from Sweetwater County.