With names like Wind River Gear, Stewarts Trap Line Gallery, Tukadeka Traders, and Whiskey Mountain Tackle you get the idea quickly Dubois is all about the outdoors with its own brand of rough and a unique version of western.
Despite the French ending (bois) and the fact other Wyoming names are pronounced with the French pronunciation, you would be wrong to assume that Dubois is “Do-bwa.” It’s “Do-boys”. Once you get that name down, next is Togwotee Pass, the 9,658 feet high mountain pass North of Dubois in the Absarokas. It’s “Toe-go-tee” – say it fast and run it together.
So what do you do in Dubois, Wyoming other than stand around with your mouth agape rotating in a 360 to take in the red and gray sand castle mesas, the lack of national chains and the Jackalope big enough to attempt an 8 second ride on? (has a saddle just in case you’re inclined).
First, you eat. The Cowboy Cafe‘s breakfast will take you way past lunch. But if you need a refuel or dessert (doesn’t everybody want dessert after breakfast, or is it just me?), head to the Dubois Drug Store & Soda Fountain for a huckleberry shake or one of their home baked yummies.
Then you hike, fish, and explore.
- The Dubois Museum presents stories of the area from the celebrated tie-hack, to the ranchers, outlaws and Native Americans who converged here. A tie-hack was a logger (most of Scandinavian descent) who hacked or shaped the logs into railroad ties.
- Togwotee Trail. It’s not really a “trail.” It’s an overview of the neighboring landscape and features. If you want to do some planning ahead of time, check out a virtual tour: here.
- The Badlands Interpretive Trail. The colorful badlands form a mesmerizing landscape to explore or just view from your car. A colloquial cowboy term for a land so rough it can’t be ridden through, badlands are formed by water carving its way through soft layers of clay, silt and sandstone. The trail offers three hiking tours ranging from a short stroll to a two-hour hike. It’s located 2 miles north of Dubois on the Horse Creek Road.
- Find the Sheepeater Indians petroglyphs near Torrey Lake (south of town). A gravel road takes off from Highway 287 just a few miles southeast of Dubois (Trail Lake Road/Forest Service Road 411) and winds
through glacial moraines to several lake trailheads. You’re specifically looking for the Lake Louise trailhead. You can fish the lakes (with a Wyoming license – see Whiskey Mountain Tackle about one).
- Check out the north end of the Wind River Valley by taking Horse Creek Road/Forest Service Road 285 (the turn-off is in town) to Double Cabin trailhead in the Shoshone National Forest. At the very least drive as long as you’ve got time.
- If you can’t find part (or even one) of the largest Bighorn Sheep herd in North America, head to the Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center for the stuffed version.
- Union Pass: A gravel road leads up the pass providing access to expansive meadows, spectacular views of the Teton, Wind River and Absaroka mountains, and the headwaters of three great North American rivers: the Colorado, the Mississippi, and the Columbia. Directions: 10 miles northwest of Dubois on U.S. Highway 287. Turn at Union Pass Road.
- If you’ve got half a day, take the 4.8 mile round-trip hike to Upper and Lower Jade Lakes. The Jade Lake’s trailhead is adjacent to Brooks Lake Campground. Just after coming off Togwotee Pass look for the Brooks Lake Recreation Area access road (quite a bit north of Dubois).
And about that Jackalope? You can’t drive out of town without a stop at the Exxon station, some photos, and chocolate.
Where is Dubois? It’s north and west of the center of the state. From Jackson (actually Moran Junction) take highway 26/287 East (you’ll see a sign). It’s about an hour drive. From Lander, take 26/287 West. It’s about the same distance…’bout an hour down the road ya see?