Travel from Wyoming’s ancient history to its more recent past with these fascinating sites
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Travel from Wyoming’s ancient history to its more recent past with these fascinating sites

From the Sticking closer to home this year? Here's how to enjoy the best of Wyoming's outdoors. series
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Many of us know dinosaurs once roamed Wyoming. Far fewer know flamingos were once commonplace.

Wyoming has a storied past, from the days of ocean tides and rainforests to early people pulsing back and forth in waves to settlers marching and rolling wagons across the prairies. Luckily, pieces of that history have been preserved for you to visit.

Travel back through time this summer as you seep yourself in tales from the past.

Ancient history

  • Dig your own fossils at American Fossil, a genuine fossil quarry near Kemmerer. The quarry is one of few places you can dig up your own fossils and keep them. Expect to find plenty of fossilized fish and the chance at digging up a fossilized shrimp, turtle, crocodile, camel, bat and even an ancient rhinoceros. For more information go to fishdig.com.
  • Learn about the dinosaurs that lived, roamed and died in Wyoming at Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Dig Sites. TIME Magazine for Kids named the Thermopolis museum one of the world’s coolest places in 2019. Visit the museum to see vast and unique fossil displays. Sign up for daily digs to be part of the museums own research and exploration. Go to Wyomingdinosaurcenter.org for more details.

Early history

  • Walk in the footprints of some of the earliest people to occupy Wyoming at Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark near Lovell. The are is a sacred complex and archeological property used by many tribes dating back to nearly 7,000 years ago. The Medicine Wheel is a circular pattern of stones about 82 feet across surrounding a central stone cairn. Radial lines extend from the center to the peripheral circle. Make sure you stay on trails, keep pets on leashes and stay a respectful distance away if you arrive during a traditional ceremony. For more information go to www.fs.usda.gov/detail/bighorn.
  • Travel even further back in time at the Medicine Lodge State Archeological Site, which dates back more than 10,000 years. The spot was an oasis for early people because of nearby shelter, food and water. It also served as a stopover point for two major migration routes for early inhabitants. Examine the 800-foot sandstone wall for pictures of shield figures representing warriors, elk, beaver, mountain lions and birds. For more go to wyoparks.wyo.gov.

Recent history

  • Explore Piedmont Charcoal Kilns State Historic Site in Uinta for a chance to understand what it took to supply coal for a growing iron smelting industry in the U.S. The kilns are 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide and look like massive beehives statues in the prairie. At one point 40 kilns supplied 100,000 bushels of charcoal. Now only three remain, and they’re worth the visit. Keep in mind the site is unmanned and remote. Cell phones won’t likely work. But plenty of signs will offer valuable history on the late 1890s coal-making industry. Visit wyoparks.wyo.gov for more.
  • Head over to Fort Bridger State Historic Site to explore multiple eras of Wyoming's past. The site, just a few miles off of Interstate 80, details the history of mountain men, Mormon travelers, military, milkbarn/model and is now a museum. You’ll also find information from more than half a dozen historical trails including the Oregon, California, Mormon and Cherokee trails. The 37-acre site includes 27 historic structures and four historic replicas. All buildings are open to look through and regulations request all visitors wear masks. For more information visit wyoparks.wyo.gov.
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