Say “Wyoming” and someone may conjure up the Rocky and Bighorn Mountains, Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo Bill, or visualize the large expanses of undeveloped and undisturbed land, much of which is government, not privately, owned. Many may not know that in addition to the majestic outdoors found everywhere in Wyoming, there are abundant and diverse adventures for active residents, vacationers and retirees alike. To the east is Sheridan, said to be one of the best hiking areas in the U.S. by Backpacker Magazine. To the north, in the area of Bighorn National Forest, there are extensively documented dinosaur fossils from 550 million years ago. Howe Dinosaur Quarry near Shell, Wyoming, is one of the best-known fossil sites with over 1,000 scientifically documented fossil collections resulting in the state rapidly becoming a major dinosaur quarry. After satisfying the inner paleontologist, one can go a short distance west to Cody where outdoor activities abound.
Cody is but one of the state’s fly fishing destinations for enthusiasts, including active retiree couples who will find trout, walleye, crappie and smallmouth bass. Cody is also one of the most historic Wyoming cities, and boasts of Old West shows. The town is comprised of historic two-story buildings with elaborate facades that date back to Buffalo Bill’s era in 1896. Venture into “Old Trail Town” and one will discover a frontier town from the late 1800s and the notorious Hole in the Wall Cabin used by the outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and frequented by cowboys and gold miners, both past and present.
As one continues to travel to the far western border of Wyoming, he will encounter Jackson Hole, entrance way to the Teton National Forest and Yellowstone National Park. In Jackson Hole, the outdoorsman can encounter resident herds of 10,000 elk, grizzly bears, moose, antelope, coyote, mule deer and the gray wolf, sure to satisfy any rugged individualist, or vacation adventurer. Jackson Hole is also home to the biggest and busiest airport in the state.
In the center of the state is the city of Casper, the cultural hub for more cultured and citified life. While Casper, like the rest of Wyoming, entices the vacation adventurer with exceptional skiing, fishing and hiking like the rest of the state, it has a symphony, three performing arts centers and a 10,000-seat amphitheater/concert center, which may satisfy the more sedentary of the retiree couples. Bluegrass musicians fill Casper streets with their music during summer music festivals. For those into the more refined activities, there is the Nicolaysen Art Museum whose collections feature Rocky Mountain Art and the Casper Planetarium for stargazing and astronomy lessons. The Tate Geological Museum holds an impressive collection of prehistoric fossils.
Travelling now to the southeastern corner of the state is where one first encounters Laramie, which was named one of the best cities in which to retire by Money Magazine in 2011. Laramie has 21 National Register sites and is home to the University of Wyoming. For the rugged individual resident and outdoor enthusiast, there is mountain biking, rock climbing and camping at Vedauwoo, which includes over 10 miles of boulders, cliffs and granite slabs within the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.
Rounding out the tour of Wyoming and its attractions to residents, vacationers and retirees alike, further southeast from Laramie is Cheyenne. Cheyenne is home to the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, where during the June birthing season many antelope can be found giving birth on the protected and secluded government base. Cheyenne is also home to the Terry Bison Ranch where visitors can ride au natural on horseback or take a trolley into the center of the bison herd, which resides on the ranch, or go fishing in the naturally stocked waterways on the private preserve. Finally, whether a rugged individual resident, adventuring vacationer or active retiree couple, everyone can practice their point and shoot skills at the Cheyenne Gunslingers events where there are reenactments of gunfights and other old west activities.
Wyoming is a state full of adventure and activity. It has no income tax, falls well below the national average on the cost of living, and enjoys a low sales tax rate. Over 50 percent of residents consider themselves conservative and anti-big-government. Residents (whether the rugged individualist type or not) tend to be healthy, happy, friendly and enjoy life.
Active retiree couples report that they chose to retire here for the unparalleled recreational and scenic opportunities and the low-cost of living and housing (averaging $177,000) and high quality of life, and the vacation adventurer tends to return regularly to enjoy the steep cliffs and ubiquitous wildlife. Everyone says hello to one another and is helpful to each other. Jeans are the normal attire. Dressing up is putting on fancy or “nice” jeans and heels instead of cowgirl boots. One thing is for sure, no one will ever be bored in Wyoming unless one chooses to be, after partaking of everything this great state has to offer.
By Brendie Kelly
Baby Boomers Guide to Selecting A Retirement Community 16 Factors You Need to Consider by Roberta A. Isleib, Ph.D. and John F. Brady, 2007, Revised 2010. Print Version