Popular shows like “Yellowstone” and “1883″ prove the country’s Wild West history still fascinates people worldwide. There are still places in the U.S. that are prime Western cultural destinations where people can immerse themselves in the world of cowboys and outlaws — and brides.

While on a scenic rafting tour in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Diane Shober, the executive director for Wyoming’s Office of Tourism, told the Deseret News she and her family were approaching Dornans, a resort in the park, when they saw a bride on the balcony.

“She’s out on the dock, and she’s got her dress, and she’s like pointing and waving, and we’re waving back to her,” but Shober said it took her and her group a minute to realize the bride wasn’t waving simply to be friendly but was actually trying to get their attention.

“Right there, right by us, was a black bear and two cubs,” she said. “They were eating berries, but we were so focused on the bride we didn’t notice.”

“You don’t always pay attention to what is there,” Shober added. “There’s this whole part of our natural environment that’s, you know, living and thriving and adjusting right around us.”

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Riders from the Wyoming Wild Horse Ranch make their way through a river bed in this undated photo. | Wyoming Office of Tourism

Visiting cowboy country

Wyoming’s wide open spaces allow people from all walks of life to immerse themselves in nature and experience the Wild West, unique to American culture. In 2023, the state’s “travel spending increased 5.1% from $4.5 billion in 2022 to $4.7 billion in 2023. Adjusted for inflation travel spending (still) increased 2.6%,” according to the Wyoming Travel Impacts report.

For a state with a population of less than 600,000 living permanently within its borders, the Cowboy State relies on its natural beauty to grow its economy through tourism, and it can do so through its multiseasonal activities.

In the summertime alone, visitors can choose from a wide array of outdoor activities:

Hailey Mach, personal relations manager for the Wyoming Office of Tourism, told the Deseret News the selling point of visiting Wyoming is simply “disconnecting from technology and really, really reconnecting with nature once again.”

“With inflation, people are really trying to find inexpensive trips that will allow them to still have wonderful memories with their family,” Mach emphasized.

There are over 200 dude ranches in the state of Wyoming, ranging in affordability and offering everything from spa days to taking care of your own horse for the week — all while surrounded by some of the country’s most impressive national parks.

“Many Wyoming dude ranches include excursions into Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Hundreds of trails traverse the parks, providing access to deep backcountry areas, remote lakes, and scenic overlooks. Moose, elk, and bear inhabit this stunning area and are frequently spotted during guided excursions,” according to The Dude Ranchers Association.

“Wyoming is off the beaten path,” Shober emphasized. “There’s a lot of room to roam. And I think you’ll find it there if that’s what you want. Almost every place is off the beaten path.”

A lone camper enjoys a quiet evening on the shore of a lake in Wyoming. | Jason Berner