Thursday, 28 June 2012 3:50 PM
The USA's big cities are renowned as great destinations for holidays, but there is much more to the country than skyscrapers and cultural attractions. If you prefer your getaways to be a little more adventurous, you should take a look at what Wyoming has to offer.
Located in the American West, the state is famed for its dramatic landscape and varied wildlife. With towering mountains, fast-flowing rivers and vast areas of prairie – not to mention roaming bears – Wyoming is a perfect choice for an activity break. Once there, you can try life as a cowboy, explore Yellowstone National Park and have a go at some adrenaline-pumping pastimes, all of which are experiences you will never forget.
Live like a cowboy
American ranching holidays are something you can only really do in Wyoming, which makes it a must-visit destination for anyone who loves cowboy movies. You can stay in a genuine bunkhouse on a busy working ranch for a few days and get to see exactly what goes on there.
Before you arrive, you should visit the small city of Cody, which is named after William Cody, who was better known as the legendary old west character Buffalo Bill. It is famed for its rodeo and outfitters, where you can stock up on cowboy boots and hats.
Once you look right, you can set about seeing the ranch on horseback and taking part in some traditional activities. Fly fishing in a fast-flowing river and an overnight camping trip, complete with cowboy cookout, will allow you to enjoy a touch of the adventure 19th century frontiersmen were famed for.
Trekking in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone was America's first national park and, having enjoyed protected status since 1872, it remains a wilderness. It stretches for more than 3,400 sq miles and the terrain includes mountains covered in alpine forests, huge lakes, canyons, rivers and the world's largest collection of geysers.
While efforts to conserve the area in its original state are ongoing, adventurous visitors are welcome. There are more than 1,110 miles of paths in the park, which makes it an ideal spot if you love to spend your holidays trekking through the great outdoors.
There are trails that run to all the most impressive sights in the park and routes to suit people of all ability levels. The Canyon region of Yellowstone is a favourite with experienced hikers, as its walks provide a real challenge. The Washburn Spur Trail is ideal for a one-day expedition, as although it is just 11 miles long, it includes a 2,000 ft climb up Mount Washburn and a testing descent on a gravel path.
For something that requires a little less exertion, head to the area around the famous Old Faithful geyser. The terrain is less demanding, but there are lots of geothermal features to see as you stroll along the banks of the Firehole River and towards Mallard Lake.
Walking is far from the only way to enjoy Yellowstone National Park. You can also try mountain biking, boat rides on the lakes and white-water rafting on the rivers, as well as camping in the backcountry. Before you set out on any kind of exploration here, you should speak to the rangers, who will advise you of any permits you need, how to deal with inclement weather conditions and how to avoid upsetting the bears.
Wyoming and, in particular, Yellowstone are renowned for providing habitats for a wide variety of wildlife. One spectacular sight is the park's herd of wild bison, which you can see roaming the grass prairie and alpine meadows.
People exploring the USA's wilderness areas are often keen to spot bears and there are few better places to do it than Yellowstone, as around 1,000 of them live in the national park. Half of them are fearsome grizzlies and while seeing them in their natural habitat is an exhilarating experience, getting too close to these powerful creatures can be terrifying. Make sure you read the guidance on what to do if you encounter a bear before you set out on your trek.
There are other dangerous wild animals in the area, including grey wolves and cougars, but also some more docile ones. Keep an eye out for elk, mule deer, mountain goats and beavers while you explore.