One perfect day in Lander, WY

Dip into a cool town of climbers, killer coffee, and cowboys

Dina Mishev

Ranch meets rock: July Fourth weekend is the 118th Lander Pioneer Days Parade & Rodeo. The following weekend, hundreds of rock climbers pile in for the International Climbers’ Festival. Locals share their cute cafes, mom-and-pop shops, and parks with both crowds.

Wait, where is Lander? Along the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River in central Wyoming, on the most scenic routes to Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Local­ese: You’ll never pronounce Popo Agie correctly without help. It’s pa-po-zha.

Dress code: Mostly climbers in fleece. Pick up sporty duds for yourself at Wild Iris Mountain Sports (333 Main St.; 307/332-4541). 

Where to start the day: Apple Valley Market (228 Main; 307/332-5536) makes fresh eggs and pancakes, and it’s never too early for their cookies and pies.

Anytime treat: With July temps reaching the high 80s, there’s almost always a line for chokecherry shakes at the Scream Shack (126 Main; 307/332-8228).

Hike to your swim: There’s fine fishing, climbing, and biking in Sinks Canyon State Park, 15 minutes southwest of downtown, but you don’t need an ounce of gear for the easy hikes. The 1.5-mile (one-way) trail to Popo Agie Falls parallels the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie and gently climbs through aspens and Indian paintbrush. The deal-sealer? The swimming hole, complete with natural waterslides down giant boulders, waiting at the end. Free; start at Bruce’s Parking Area; 307/332-3077.

City-style coffee break: From the iPad cash register to the welded metal countertops, there’s little doubt Old Town Coffee is the state’s most stylish coffeehouse. The fact that they brew up Handsome Coffee—the only place to do so for hundreds of miles—is simply showing off. The Handsome Scout’s Honor espresso is just right with a fresh-made raspberry croissant. 300 Main St.; 307/438-1960.

Shop on Main: We like Kashmir Funk (closed Sun; 236 Main St., 307/438-4005) for the ironic T-shirts, jewelry, and Urban Outfitters–esque skirts and dresses—for a lot less. Down the street, the Gated Garden (closed Sun; 232 Main; 307/332-2874) has tools, seeds, and fun stuff like Garden Bingo.

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