5 Uncrowded Adventures in Southwest Wyoming
Fossil Basin sits between the beautiful Hams Fork River, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and sagebrush-scented prairies. Made up of the southwestern Wyoming towns of Kemmerer and Diamondville, the basin is rich with history from its early beginning as an ancient subtropical lake, its mid-life as a booming mining town and, now, as one of Wyoming’s best-kept destination secrets.
With plenty of unique activities and few crowds, you’re sure to add Fossil Basin to your short-list of favorite places to get away from it all. Here are five of the best things to do in the Fossil Basin area:
1. Go Fly Fishing or Ice Fishing
There are plenty of places in the Fossil Basin to reel in a catch. The Hams Fork River, Green River, and Fontenelle Reservoir are a few local favorites. Fly fishermen flock to these spots in the warm seasons, and ice-fishermen take over when the water freezes. No matter what time of year you visit Fossil Basin, fishing is always in season.
Don’t fret if you aren’t an experienced fisherman. Local guides from The Solitary Angler or Fly Fishing Western Wyoming are happy to help with advice, fishing supplies, and guided trips.
2. Visit Fossil Butte National Monument
Fossil Basin earns its name from the Fossil Butte National Monument—one of the world’s best fossil excavation sites. The Fossil Butte National Monument Visitors Center showcases over 80 fossils including fish, crocodiles, turtles, bats, birds, insects, and plants.
For a hands-on paleontological experience, during the summer you can visit private fossil quarries outside of Fossil Butte National Monument to try your luck at fossil excavation! Oftentimes, the quarries let you keep your fossils as a unique souvenir.
3. Take a Hike or Scenic Drive
Fossil Basin offers quintessential views of Wyoming’s western landscape. Take a short hike on the Oyster Ridge Trail for an overlook of Kemmerer or hike around Fossil Butte National Monument. If you’d prefer to view the scenery from your RV or car, drive the Big Spring Scenic Backway deep into Bridger-Teton National Forest.
4. Explore the Historic Downtown
Take a walk around downtown Kemmerer, WY and you’ll feel like you stepped into a Western movie. You’ll enjoy the small-town character as you explore the local restaurants, bars, parks, and the first ever J.C. Penney store! To learn more about the history of the area, be sure to stop by the Fossil Country Frontier Museum.
5. Visit Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
Find scenic serenity at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, located about 45 miles east of Kemmerer, WY. The refuge offers a variety of recreational opportunities including canoeing, fishing, hiking, and, of course, Wildlife watching. Over 200 species of birds have been identified at the refuge, also making it an excellent place for birdwatching.
Perhaps you have never heard of Fossil Basin, but once you visit, you won’t forget it. For an uncrowded getaway, spend a few days fishing, fossil “fishing,” hiking, driving, and exploring Fossil Basin. You’ll leave feeling like a local—with plans to return.