Grand Teton National Park
North of Jackson, south of Yellowstone, the silver peaks of Grand Teton National Park cut into the sky, their slopes offering some of the best hiking and mountaineering in the lower 48 states. US-26/89 runs right along the base of the mountains, giving grand views and tempting travelers to stop and explore. West of the main highway, Teton Park Road winds past Jenny Lake, where you can rent a kayak or board a boat ($20 per hour) and ride across to a short trail that leads up past Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point, at the foot of 13,775-ft (4,199-m) Grand Teton.
There are abundant recreational activities, as well as camping and lodging. Information is available at any of the four visitors centers; the first you’ll likely each is the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center (307/739-3300), a mile (1.6 km) west of US-26 on Teton Park Road.
Between the Grand Tetons and Casper, US-26 is a mostly scenic highway, crossing the Continental Divide at 9,659-ft (2,944-m) Togwotee Pass before winding along the Wind River through the multicolored badlands that surround the town of Dubois (pop. 968; pronounced “dew-BOYS”). A low-key ranching and logging center that’s still in its infancy as a tourist destination, Dubois does have one unique attraction: the National Bighorn Sheep Center (307/455-3429 or 888/209-2795, daily June-mid-Sept., Mon.-Sat. spring and fall, Tues.-Sat. winter, $6), right on US-26 at the west edge of town, documenting the life and times of the thousands of elusive bighorn sheep that congregate in the winter months around Whisky Mountain, south of Dubois.
There are a few saloons, steakhouses, and fly-fishing shops, and one great place to stay in Dubois. For full Wild West immersion, book a room at the log-cabin Twin Pines Lodge (218 W. Ramshorn St., 800/550-6332, $100 and up), in business since 1934.
Named for the Shoshone people who once held sway over this part of the Great Plains, the town of Shoshoni (pop. 649) now sits somewhat forlornly at the junction of US-20 and US-26, at the southeast edge of the Boysen Reservoir.
Between Shoshoni and Casper, the only attraction worth mentioning is the odd geology of Hell’s Half Acre, a 320-ac (129-ha) concentration of grotesquely eroded stone south of US-26 amid the arid badlands landscape. Scenes in the cult-classic late-1990s Neil Patrick Harris military sci-fi movie Starship Troopers were filmed here in 1996.