Wyoming’s stretch of the I-90 includes several amazing places and roadside attractions. You can plan an awesome family road trip with this list of things to see along I-90 in Wyoming.
In this post we’ll bring you along Wyoming’s part of I-90 traveling from East to West. We’ll also give you the scoop on national parks and interesting sites that you’ll find as you drive further west or east along Interstate 90.
Table of Contents
Things to See Along I-90 in Wyoming
Let’s start with the South Dakota / Wyoming border and one of America’s most impressive national park sites.
1. Devil’s Tower National Monument (Feature)
Check this one off my bucket list! I’d been longing to visit Devil’s Tower ever since my third grade eyes stumbled across its photo in a World Book Encyclopedia.
Could this strange place really exist? And is it truly as big as it seems in the picture?
Yes, and yes! In fact, it’s bigger than the picture. Devil’s Tower is a natural wonder in every sense of the word.
I’ll admit that I had some second thoughts before we arrived. The park is relatively small as national parks go, and it’s off the beaten path.
In reality, however, there’s a whole lot to this place. The park embraces more than its famous tower, and you start enjoying the tower long before to enter the park!
Scenic Drive to Devil’s Tower
The journey to the park was nearly as enjoyable as the park itself. Devil’s Tower is situated in the western area of the Black Hills amid a rugged, beautiful landscape.
It was easy to see why this mighty landmark became sacred to several indigenous tribes. Devil’s Tower is visible over miles of Wyoming prairie, as if watching over all that goes on in its domain.
Devil’s Tower Visitor Center
The visitor center is a great starting point when visiting this park. The park is rich in natural and human history, but it’s easy to miss if you don’t stop by. Here a few interesting facts to whet you appetite:
- Devil’s Tower is so unique that geologists are still arguing about exactly how it was formed.
- The Tower has at least five ancient, indigenous names.
- Devil’s Tower National Monument was the first National Monument in American history (1906).
We were impressed at just how many great exhibits were packed in the park’s historic visitor center. Our kids zoomed through their Junior Ranger booklets, we picked up a bumper sticker, and we were ready to explore.
Devil’s Tower Activities
Hiking is the best way to enjoy Devil’s Tower. Miles of trails surround Devil’s Tower, offering opportunities to see the wonder from all sides and perspectives.
Devil’s Tower is a world-renowned rock climbing location. Thankfully, you don’t have the scale the tower to enjoy the process. Bring some binoculars and you can watch courageous climbers work their way up to the top.
Prairie Dog Village is one of the most popular attractions at Devil’s Tower NM. The park’s auto route runs though the village, making it easy to watch prairie dogs as they watch you.
Devil’s Tower NM: Know Before You Go
Great Place for a Short Detour
Devil’s Tower National Monument is great, bite-sized national park. There’s enough natural beauty and wonder to fill a week. However, you could spend just a few hours there and still leave satisfied.
Check Your Calendar
The Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are inundated with motorcyclists every August. The Sturgis Bike Rally brings bikers in by the thousands.
Our Devil’s Tower experience was set against a soundscape of motorcycles. You’ll want to avoid the bike rally for a more natural experience.
Plan Your Food and Gas
Devil’s Tower National Monument is located in a remote part of Wyoming. Gas, food, and lodging are limited and have limited hours.
8 More Things to See Along I-90 in Wyoming
#2. Vore Buffalo Jump
You don’t have to go far to find things to see along I-90 in Wyoming. This prehistoric site was literally discovered as the I-90 was being built.
Vore Buffalo Jump is one of the most interesting pit stops along Wyoming’s I-90 corridor. The natural sinkhole bears testimony to the brilliance of Wyoming’s first peoples.
Buffalo hunting has always been dangerous, but it was even more dangerous before horses arrived in America. Indigenous tribes used buffalo jumps as a way to kill bison quickly and safely.
Native tribes developed techniques to stampede buffalo off cliffs. The injured animals could then be killed and butchered with little danger or difficulty.
Vore Buffalo Jump was a perfect location for this practice. Bison stampeded into a sinkhole forty feet deep, 200 feet in diameter, with no natural outlet.
Buffalo Jumps can be found across the Great Plains. One of the best jumps is Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, Canada. This jump is at least 6000 years old and is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Vore Buffalo Jump was used for three centuries and is estimated to contain the remains of 20,000 buffalo. This ancient American site yields valuable information about the ancient migrations of the Apache and Kiowa as well as the history of the Shoshone, Hidatsa, Crow, and Cheyenne.
Vore Buffalo Jump is open from June 1st to Labor Day. Tours are guided but do not require a reservation.
#3. Thunder Basin National Grassland
Take the road less traveled into Wyoming wild ranges. Thunder Basin National Grassland welcomes you into the natural beauty of the Northern Plains.
Thunder Basin’s dry prairies are home to pronghorn antelope, mule deer, prairie dogs, badgers, coyotes, and red fox. Over 100 bird species can be spotted at the grassland including mountain plover and sage-grouse.
Thunder Basin hosts a range of activities such as camping, hunting, OHV riding, picnicking, and scenic drives.
#4. Historic Lake DeSmet
One of Wyoming’s most colorful lakes lies along the state’s I-90 route. Lake DeSmet has a storied past and a happening present.
The lake is the setting for a number of stories and legends. An indigenous tale speaks of young lovers who experience tragedy at the hands of a strange magic arising from the lake. Early settlers attested to Smetty, an alligator-like monster prowled the waters of Lake DeSmet.
The lake’s history is equally interesting. Father Pierre Jean De Smet came upon the lake in 1851 while traveling with a contingent of men from Fort Union Trading Post.
De Smet had organized the group of chiefs, scouts, and fur trappers and was leading them to attend the Horse Creek Treaty Negotiations at Fort Laramie. The group of 35 or so men named the lake in his honor.
The Belgian Jesuit had already traveled across much of the west. However, this expedition was his most epic journey. De Smet’s trek from Fort Union to Fort Laramie was an 800 mile overland trek over largely unknown territory.
Today Lake DeSmet is a large reservoir and popular attraction for water sports. The Mikesell-Potts Recreation Area is a great place to enjoy fishing, boating, swimming at this historic lake.
#5. The Bozeman Trail
I-90 follows one of most treacherous trails in the American West. In 1863 John Bozeman blazed a path to the newly discovered gold fields of Western Montana.
The Bozeman Trail offered a shorter route to Virginia City, but it ran right though the lands of powerful indigenous tribes. In fact, Bozeman was killed a year later on the trail that was named in his honor.
Reminders of the Bozeman Trail can be found all along Wyoming’s section of I-90. A few forts and even more battles attest the the clash of cultures that took place along this part of the West.
You can explore the history of the Bozeman Trail at places such as Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site and the Bozeman Trail Museum. Follow the trail northwest into Montana and you’ll cross Bozeman Pass, the city Bozeman founded (Bozeman, MT), and the coveted goldfields of the Montana Rockies.
#6. Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site
You’ve probably heard of the Battle of Little Big Horn. But did you know that the US Army suffered a stunning loss only ten years before Custer’s Last Stand?
An allied force of Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota warriors dealt a devastating blow to US forces at the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand. This battle (also known as the Fetterman Fight) crippled Fort Phil Kearny, and became the largest battle in Red Cloud’s War.
Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site is the ideal place to explore Red Cloud’s War and the events that brought it about. The 1,000 acre park preserves Fort Phil Kearny and two nearby battles: the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand and The Wagon Box Fight.
This state park has a wealth of historic sites and its only five minutes off the I-90. Value and convenience make Fort Phil Kearny SHS one of the best things to see along I-90 in Wyoming.
#7. Bighorn National Forest
Wyoming’s final stretch of I-90 runs along the beautiful Bighorn Mountains.
The Bighorns are a front range of the Rocky Mountains that are full of natural beauty and western lore.
Bighorn National Forest encompasses more than 1 million acres of national forestland, including the Cloud Peak Wilderness. Fire lookouts, historic guard stations, and a mysterious, ancient site all invite you to explore the history of this rugged landscape.
Be sure to check out the Bighorn NF Visitor Center beside Shell Falls. Three scenic routes invite you to cross the Bighorns into Wyoming remote northern regions.
#8. Kendrick Park, Sheridan
You’ve probably had ice cream at a city park, but did your visit include a buffalo? Sheridan’s Kendrick Park is one of the only city parks with native bison and elk!
Kendrick Park lies along Big Goose Creek in the center of Sheridan, Wyoming. The park is loved for its summer concerts and swimming pool, and yes, there’s ice cream too.
#9. Trails End State Historic Site, Sheridan
Just north of Kendrick Park stands one of Wyoming’s most historic homes. Trail End State Historic Site preserves the 1913 Flemish Revival mansion of Wyoming Governor John Kendrick.
John Kendrick, who also served as a US Senator, was active in the issues of his time. The Kendrick Mansion offers a window into the dramatic events of of the early 20th century including World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression.
Trail End State Historic Site offers you a way to encounter these events from a personal perspective. Stories and artifacts tell the story of a Kendrick family and the times in which they lived.
Things to See Along I-90 Near Wyoming
Let’s go beyond things to see along I-90 in Wyoming and look at what attractions can be found on either side of Wyoming’s section of the interstate. We’ll start with South Dakota on the East before looking West toward Montana.
The Black Hills
The Black Hills of South Dakota are one of the most interesting places in the United States. This remarkable region holds five national park sites, legendary towns, and an abundance of roadside attractions.
We spent a week in Western South Dakota and we still didn’t see it all. Here are the top things to hit on your next South Dakota road trip.
Cruise along one of South Dakota’s most scenic drives. Admire waterfalls and spot wildlife in this breathtakingly, beautiful gorge.
Walk in the steps of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and other Western legends of this infamous frontier town. Deadwood still draws crowds with its casinos, historic sites, and other attractions.
The epicenter of the Black Hills, Rapid City is a great place to stay and play. This city’s downtown area is a place to experience delicious food, remarkable culture, and fantastic events.
We loved our visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. A short hike brings you along the base of the enormous statues and gives you the opportunity to see Rushmore’s profiles from several perspectives.
Crazy Horse Memorial
Rushmore’s rival is equally impressive. We appreciated the opportunity to see the monument as it was being built and admire the museum’s incredible collection of Indigenous art.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Minuteman Missile NHS was easily one of the coolest stops on our epic roadtrip. Ellsworth Air Force Base supervised 150 intercontinental ballistic missiles as a nuclear deterrent in the Cold War.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site offers a window into the Cold War arms race by allowing you to explore a retired nuclear missile station and missile silo. We couldn’t get enough of this place!
Badlands National Park
Our family was astounded at all that there was to see and do at Badlands National Park. This remarkable place is packed with natural and human history.
Wall Drug was one of our favorite pit stops in South Dakota, and we didn’t even see it at its best! This pharmacy-gone-wild started out by offering travelers free ice water and has grown into the bazaar of the Black Hills.
Custer State Park
Don’t pass up the chance to explore one of the best state parks in the United States. We encountered friendly donkeys, herds of buffalo, and jaw-dropping views at Custer State Park and the Needles Highway.
Oacoma: Join Lewis & Clark as they head west up the Missouri River. Al’s Oasis is another renowned roadside attraction.
@dinkumtribe Dignity of Earth and Sky is a soaring sculpture of a native woman standing high on a bluff above the Missouri River. The starquilt is made of 128 diamonds in the colors of the water and sky that surround her. Dignity is 50' tall, weighs 12 tons, and is made of hundreds of pieces of stainless steel. Dignity honors the Native Nations of the Great Plains. "My intent is for the sculpture to stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred and in a sacred place." – Dale Claude Lamphere @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #nativeamerican #nativeamericanheritagemonth #indigenoustiktok #southdakotacheck #beautifulart #giantsculpture ♬ Golden Hour: Piano Version – Andy Morris
Mitchell is the home of the World’s Only Corn Palace and the Dakota Discovery Museum.
Sioux Falls: South Dakota’s largest city is known for Falls Park, one of the most accessible waterfalls in America. Get your feet wet in the Big Sioux River or explore the wonders at nearby Palisades State Park.
Montana & the Rockies
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Spot wild horses and enjoy water sports at this western oasis. Bighorn Canyon NRA straddles the Wyoming/Montana border, offering the chance to enjoy both states at one park.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
See where the Lakota and Cheyenne crushed US Army forces led by Lt. Col. George A. Custer. Graves of army soldiers and indigenous warriors can be found throughout this battlefield.
Yellowstone National Park
One of America’s greatest national parks is only an hour from the I-90! The renowned Mammoth Hot Springs lies at the top of Yellowstone National Park, making it a tempting detour for an I-90 roadtrip.
Grand Teton National Park
Are you committed to seeing all of Yellowstone? Then you might as well see Grand Teton National Park as well.
Grand Teton NP is a place of Rocky Mountain grandeur. However, this destination will take you hours away from the I-90. State highways and Interstate 15 offer the best way to return to an I-90 route.
More Things to See Along I-90 in Wyoming
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©️ Copyright Brian A. Warren 2023.