Dubois, Wyo. - People on their way to Yellowstone National
Park via Wyoming’s Centennial Scenic Byway often arrive at their campground or
hotel in Dubois around 4 p.m. planning to stay for a night.
They settle in and head to town to wander the boardwalk, eat dinner and browse the shops. They start chatting with people they’ve never met and learn about all the interesting things to do in Dubois.
They leave for Yellowstone the next day.
Then often one of two things happens, said Rick Collignon, who owns the KOA campground with his wife. They return to Dubois a few days later finding the national parks too crowded or realizing they really wanted to go see the petroglyphs they’d heard about, or hike to the emerald colored Jade Lakes, or spend a little more time in the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center or one of the museums.
Or they leave Dubois and head to the national parks and then home.
“Then in a couple of years they come back,” Collignon said. And for the second trip they always plan for at least a couple of days in Dubois before heading anywhere else.
That’s what happened to Collignon. He first visited Dubois on his way to Yellowstone in 1992. He came back 23 years in a row until finally he moved to town.
This year celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Centennial Scenic Byway, an incredible 161-mile drive from Dubois to Pinedale through National Forest, by planning a few extra days in Dubois. Dubois offers the best of the area- wildlife, history, mountain peaks and the feel of an old west town complete with the sounds of a live piano player on the boardwalk and Friday night rodeos.
There are the red rocks east of town marking the beginning of the Wind River valley. Two mountain ranges line the valley. The Wind River Mountain range is made of granite peaks and carved by glaciers. The Absaroka Mountains were formed from volcanic ash and include the pinnacles, a skyline as distinctive as the Tetons. The mountain ranges collide on Togwotee Pass, where the Centennial Scenic Byway crosses the Continental Divide.
People stopping through should make sure to bring their mountain bikes, fishing poles, hiking and cowboy boots. They’ll want to stop longer.
There’s a petrified forest, trails into the heart of the mountains to glacial lakes, Indian petroglyphs thousands of years old, and wickiups and sheep traps left by the ancestral Shoshone Indians who lived in the area thousands of years ago. There are also museums, great restaurants, and art created by nationally-known artists. There are also plenty of places to stay from historic hotels to dude ranches, and convenient campsites.
“You are a long way from everywhere, but you are still in the middle of all this unique geology and wildlife,” Collignon said.
And you don’t have to fight the crowds.
“Dubois isn’t a lot of splash and show and big box stores,” Collignon said. “It’s just very real in a gorgeous piece of country.”
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