Top 5 Things to Do Near Kemmerer, Wyoming

Just two hours northeast of Salt Lake City lies Kemmerer, Wyoming—a small, quaint town perfect for a weekend getaway or a break in the road trip. Here are the top five things to do in Kemmerer: 

Go Fossil Hunting and Take a Fossil Home

Fifty-two million years ago there was a large lake outside of Kemmerer—Fossil Lake. Now gone, the area is loaded with fossils in lake sediments that turned into rocks known as the Green River Formation. To go fossil hunting, you’ll need to go with a commercial fossil quarry, which there are plenty of in town (link to the page on the site with the list of quarries). They’ll give you the proper tools and you’ll start breaking into pieces of rocks looking for large and small fossils. Anything of the common variety you will be able to keep and take home, no matter the size! Rare species that are found must stay at the quarry, but imagine finding the fossil of a turtle or a stingray or even a crocodile (those have all been found there)! 

Explore Fossil Butte National Monument and Go Hiking

Before you go fossil hunting, it’s a good idea to check out the Fossil Butte National Monument’s visitor’s center to learn about the history and fossil species of the Green River Formation. They also have some pretty amazing fossils on display there. You can go hike one of their trails, drive the scenic road, relax in the picnic area or go for a bike ride to enjoy the views. They monument also offers ranger talks and fossil preparation demonstrations.  

 

 

Have a Picnic and Fish the Ham’s Fork River

Whether you’re experienced at flyfishing or not, southwest Wyoming is an incredible place for the sport. The Ham’s Fork river runs right through Kemmerer and makes for easy fishing access if you have a large party of children with you. In the winter, Kemmerer’s Lions Club hosts an annual ice fishing derby, so there really is fishing all year round. If you’re unexperienced or don’t have the right equipment, Solitary Angler will show you the way. The guides at Solitary Angler say that southwest Wyoming is the best kept flyfishing secret left in the lower 48 states! They also fish the Smith’s Fork River, the Green River and Fontenelle Creek. Places outside of Kemmerer like the Lions Club Community Park offer picnic tables and playgrounds for a nice lunch spot next to the river. 

Visit the J.C. Penny House Museum and Mother Store

J.C. Penny is one of the largest department store companies in the United States and they have over 800 stores nationwide. James Cash Penny started his whole empire in none other than Kemmerer, Wyoming. He moved his wife and infant son to Wyoming and opened up shop in 1902, under the former name “Golden Rule”, which was a dry goods store. By 1913, Penny had 34 stores in the western U.S. and the name became J.C. Penny for them all. The Kemmerer Mother Store is still in operation today and you can go there to buy yourself a new pair of jeans and see original store features like the pulley system that Penny used to send money and receipts upstairs to his office. It’s also worth checking out the J.C. Penny house, which is now a historical building and only open in the summer. 

Grab a Bite at a Local Restaurant and Go Bowling

Too cold to enjoy the outdoors? Get something to eat at a local spot for dinner and spend your evening at Sage Lanes—Kemmerer’s bowling alley. It’s a cozy place to grab a drink, and you can even enjoy a meal there as well. Sage Lanes’ pub menu includes loaded nachos, pizza with bacon and juicy burgers. Seriously, one of their burgers is called the “Juicy Lucy Cheddar Burger,” and another is filled with cream cheese. A few other great options for dinner in town are Rosie’s Pizzeria & Sports Bar, El Jaliciense, Jailhouse Java Joint and more. (link to food and drinks page).

 

There are plenty of other activities to do around Kemmerer, like going hunting, attending the annual Oyster Ridge Music Festival in the summer, bird and wildlife watching, rock hunting, mountain biking and more. These are some favorites and a good way to explore that beautiful part of Wyoming. 

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Tobey Schmidt