5-Day Itinerary: Fossil Basin + Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks sit atop the list of most-visited places in Wyoming. But, far from the crowds of Jackson and the national parks, Kemmerer sits nestled in the rolling hills and great blue skies on the western edge of the Cowboy State. Take the road less traveled and find a verdant gem on the tranquil banks of the Hams Fork River. 

 

This itinerary takes you through the national parks in Wyoming and to the hidden gem of Fossil Basin and Kemmerer, WY. 

Days 1 & 2: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone covers over 3,470 square miles, so plan for plenty of driving time while exploring the park. A great way to cut down on driving time is to stay at one of Yellowstone’s campgrounds. Before deciding on a campsite, you may want to figure out exactly what you want to see and do in Yellowstone in order to be near the attractions. Here are a few favorites: 

 

Day 3: Grand Teton National Park

Enjoy the scenic drive along John D Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway that connects Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Soon after entering Grand Teton National Park, you’ll be greeted with views of Jackson Lake. As you drive further into the park, you may want to take the time to stop at a few of these places: 

 

After exploring Grand Teton National Park, stay at one of the campgrounds in the park or find a campground on the way to the next destination.

Day 4-5: Fossil Basin

With the Tetons in your rearview mirror, it’s time to take a trip into Wyoming’s prehistoric past. About 3 hours from Grand Teton National Park, Kemmerer, WY sits on what is the bed of an ancient tropical sea. One of the best ways to learn about this history is to visit Fossil Butte National Monument. Stop inside the visitors center and see interactive exhibits and over 300 fossil specimens. While at the monument, you should also make time to hike the Historic Quarry Trail or the Nature Trail, take the scenic drive, or have lunch in the picnic area. 

 

 

As you stroll along the streets of Kemmerer, you’ll discover more history including the JCPenney Mother Store, the very first J.C. Penney store which opened in Kemmerer in 1902. Located just down the block from the ‘Mother Store’ is the J.C. Penney Homestead, the home of the founder of JC Penney, James Cash Penney, Jr. Another must-visit attraction for history lovers is the Fossil Country Frontier Museum.

In the evening, settle into one of the area’s numerous campgrounds and RV parks. For those interested in fishing, the Hams Fork Campground, Fontanelle Creek Recreation Area, and the Slate Creek Campground, and Weeping Rock Campground are great options.

The next day, plan to go on a fossil digging adventure with one of the private quarries in the Kemmerer area. Unearth your very own fish fossils or, if you’re lucky, some even rarer fossil specimens!

Fossil Basin is one of those places that makes the Great American Road Trip truly memorable. It’s a destination that’s uncommon, unique, and rich in experience.

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Danella Myers