The American West is full of iconic locales and landscapes— the wildlife of Yellowstone, the bright orange rock of Utah’s canyonlands, and the faces of Mt. Rushmore have long captured the imaginations of travelers the world over. But what about the places in between? The unassuming rural communities often overlooked by travelers are some of the best windows into the American experience of yesterday and today.
This article was created in partnership with Go Goshen County.
Goshen County, Wyoming is one such place. Rich with natural beauty, historic landmarks and people living close to the land, this corner of Wyoming has something to intrigue even the most seasoned adventurer. Start your trip at the Goshen County Visitor’s Center in Torrington to get oriented, then escape the summer traffic, close your Top 10 guidebook and come along to experience all that Goshen County has to offer.
Agriculture + Food
Goshen County is cattle country. As one of Wyoming’s top cattle producing counties, ranching culture runs deep here. To get a glimpse of how this massive food system operates, visit the Torrington Livestock Markets and watch the ranchers in action at Wyoming’s largest livestock auction. You can peruse the pens and watch a live auction session to get a better sense of how modern day cowboys live and how American beef feeds the world. This isn’t a dog and pony show for tourists, either. These are real people, doing real work to produce real food.
If you’re really interested in getting even closer to the source of your food, book an autumn outing with one of the area’s hunting outfitters. With some of the best waterfowl and upland bird hunting on the great plains, Goshen County has experienced guides to help you make the most of it. Check out Wyobraska Waterfowl and Maximum Waterfowling to learn how to harvest your own piece of Goshen County’s organic, free range meat. To really get a taste of Goshen County’s hunting culture, visit during the 2Shot Goose Hunt, which happens each December.
Home to walleye, crappie, bass, perch and more, Goshen County has great fishing, too. And 90 fishable bodies of water! Grab a fishing license at most outfitters, markets or gas stations and try your luck as an angler. Though not for everyone, an authentic hunting or fishing excursion in Goshen County can be a perspective shifting, mind opening travel experience that is unattainable at any run of the mill tourist destination.
To reflect on Goshen County’s agricultural tradition and the area’s long history of people’s connection to their food, visit the Goshen County Homesteader’s Museum. Operating with the belief that a strong understanding of history will improve the quality of our communities and experiences today, the Homesteader’s Museum is a repository of historical artifacts and information that will help you put your experiences in Goshen County in context.
Goshen County has long been an area of cultural and economic significance in the west. At different points throughout history, The Oregon Trail, Cheyenne Deadwood Stage Route, Mormon Trail, Pony Express and Texas Trail all passed through Goshen County. At Fort Laramie National Historic Site, the well preserved site of a former trading post and military base, you can explore the very buildings and pathways that the frontier adventurers of the past inhabited. Visit on the right day and you’ll be served historically accurate refreshments like sarsaparilla and birch beer and get to see demonstrations put on by history buffs in period dress. To really soak up the ambience, take a stroll on the Confluence Trail, a 1.6 mile loop on the grounds of the historic site that will take you along the banks of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers under the dappled shade of mature cottonwoods.
Hell Gap National Historic Landmark is an archeological site of enormous significance to indigenous people and the scientists who research their history. With relatively undisturbed soil stratification, archaeologists have found pristine projectile points from a number of traditions including Folsom, Clovis, Plano and Goshen (named for Goshen County!). Evidence of human activity from as long as 12,000 years ago has been found here. Though not open to the public, keep Hell Gap National Historic Landmark– and the ancient history of the entire area– in mind as you explore. We are far from the first people to find Goshen County special!
You can take a piece of Goshen County home from any number of locally owned and operated shops. The Covered Wagon Quilt Shop in Torrington offers quilts, textiles and quilting supplies and an expert staff dedicated to keeping the craft of quilting alive. Pick out some funky western apparel and jewelry at Home on the Range, and grab a piece of University of Wyoming swag at Heartland Embroidery, both in Torrington. To purchase a reminder of Goshen County’s rich history and natural beauty, make a stop at Torrington Rock Shop to pick up a stone, gem, fossil or other artifact from the land itself.
After a mindful exploration of Goshen County’s farm and ranch culture and 12,000+ year history of human habitation, an up close and personal encounter with the native fish and wildlife, and a taste of the day to day life in Goshen County, you’ll leave with a deeper, truer understanding of this little slice of the American experience.