Top 12 Ways to Spend Your Star Valley Summer
(Updated July 2023)
Although Star Valley is an incredible place to be at any time of the year, summer time in Star Valley is when things really heat up in terms of having the best variety of activities in Wyoming.
There are more ways to spend your summer in Star Valley than can possibly be listed anywhere, but this list of summer activities will help you know some of the best ways to spend your Star Valley summer! And you can click most pics for an enlargement.
(1) See The Elkhorn Arch, 458 S. Washington St, Afton, WY 83110:
At 18 feet tall and spanning 75 feet across all four lanes of Highway 89 between 4th and 5th Avenue in Afton, stands the World's Largest Elkhorn Arch. The arch is composed of more than 3,000 elk antlers and overhangs the crosswalk. This intertwined marvel is easily accessible, making for a quick and fun photo opportunity. For a safer experience, we recommend checking out the smaller arches at the base on each side of the street.
(2) Star Valley Temple 855 S. Washington St, Afton, WY 83110:
A few blocks south of the infamous Elkhorn Arch, you'll find the next attraction on our list. Dedicated in October 2016, the Star Valley Temple is the first in Wyoming for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the peaceful grounds and admire the simple elegance of the Temple's architecture, set against the backdrop of Hale's Canyon. There are no public tours of the interior, as you must be a member of the LDS church with a Temple Recommend to enter. Members planning their visit are encouraged to make a reservation in advance to secure their desired session. Click for more pictures of the temple.
(3) Intermittent Spring, County Road-138, Afton, WY:
Also known as Periodic Spring, the Intermittent Spring in Afton is considered the world's largest of the three known natural phenomena of its kind. True to its name, the spring continuously alternates between gushing forth and stopping completely in roughly 20-minute intervals. Summer is the most ideal time to take in this wonder of nature. The spring is accessible by a picturesque, easy and short (less than a mile) hike from the Periodic Spring Trailhead. Dogs on leashes are welcome on the trail. We have a Blog post with more info.
(4) Star Valley Half Marathon:
The Star Valley Half Marathon was started in 2011 and has since become a beloved tradition for runners in Wyoming, as well as an official USATF Sanctioned Event in Wyoming. The event was started as a memorial to Jeremy Kunz, a Star Valley native and running enthusiast who died tragically in 2009. The breathtaking course route begins at Grover Park, East of Grover, and passes through Turnerville and Beford, before concluding in Thayne. You can learn more about the race on their website, linked here. http://starvalleyhalfmarathon.com/.
(5) Star Valley Ranch Resort 3522 Muddy String Road, Thayne, Wyoming 83127:
If you're ready to check out the other sites on our list and are planning to make Star Valley a travel destination this year, it goes without saying you'll need a place to stay. The Star Valley Ranch Resort boasts a variety of lodging options, from tent and RV sites to camping cabins and a motel. The resort also features recreation options for the whole family, including a swimming pool, golf course and Pickleball courts, just to name a few. At just over an hour away from Jackson and Grand Teton National Park, Star Valley Ranch Resort is a great place to set up camp (pun intended!). Click here for their web site.
(6) Lincoln County Fair, 144 Washington St, Afton, WY 83110:
Afton is home to the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, which host the Lincoln County Fair each August. LCF traditions include the opening parade, the PRCA and Junior Rodeos, car shows, horse and livestock shows, and carnival rides and games. Other attractions have included a demolition derby, musical performances, comedy shows, magic shows, and exotic animal shows. Click here for their web site.
(7) Golf 1420 Washington St, Afton, WY 83110:
Star Valley is an absolute haven for golfers. Afton's public course, Star Valley View, is an 18-hole, 6010-yard course designed by golf legend Johnny Miller, as a monument to his love of Star Valley and his frequent visits over the years.
The Star Valley Ranch Association also operates two private courses, Cedar Creek and Aspen Hills. Cedar Creek is an 18-hole, 6553-yard course that winds its way throughout Star Valley Ranch; while Aspen Hills is a 9-hole course that is renowned for its difficulty. Aspen Hills' fourth hole, the "Tunnel Hole", is rated the most challenging hole on any course in the state of Wyoming. Tournaments for Ranch owners and non-owners alike are held throughout the year at both courses.
In addition, the Star Valley Ranch Resort features an 18-hole, 4400-yard executive-style course.
(8) Wyoming Stargazing - Locations Vary:
One perhaps underappreciated feature of Star Valley is the opportunity for great stargazing. The most crucial ingredients for the best stargazing are dark skies and thin atmosphere, which can be found all around the valley.
If you're visiting Star Valley from a larger metropolitan area, you're basically guaranteed to see many more stars than you're used to seeing. The best (i.e. the darkest) spots can be found on the back of the Salt River Range and in the Greys River Valley, directly East of Star Valley, as well as the Grays Lake and Caribou Mountain areas, just Northwest across the Idaho border.
The Allred Flat Campground, off U.S. 89, south of Smoot, is also a good dark spot for stargazers, as is the Cottonwood Lake Campground East of Smoot. In addition, the Star Valley Branch Library in Afton hosts periodic star parties at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
(9) Camping and RV-ing - Locations Vary:
Star Valley is home to a host of great camping and RV-ing options in a variety of settings, from lakeside to back-country. Most camp sites in the Star Valley area are managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
One of the most scenic spots is the Allred Flat Campground just off U.S. 89, South of Smoot.
For larger groups, the Cottonwood Lake Campground East of Smoot has space for up to 25 people.
Swift Creek Campground can be easily accessed by heading east up Swift Creek Road from Afton.
Several other great options, including Forest Park, Moose Flat, and Murphy Creek, can be found by taking Greys River Road Southeast from Alpine. The larger Forest Service campgrounds usually have space for RVs, although they lack RV hookups.
If you're looking for a more traditional RV park option, there are several in both the Alpine area and the Star Valley Ranch/Thayne area, including the Star Valley Ranch Resort.
For those seeking a more rustic camping experience, dispersed camping is widely available on Forest Service land throughout Star Valley and the surrounding areas.
(10) Hiking and Backpacking - Locations Vary:
Star Valley features a plethora of hiking and backpacking opportunities. Pick basically any road that goes East into the mountains from the Valley floor and you're bound to encounter a great day hike or two. Some of the most popular options include the North Fork Swift Creek and Swift Creek-Periodic Spring trails, just East from downtown Afton, as well as multiple day hiking trails running out of the Cottonwood Lake area East of Smoot, and the Grover Park/Willow Creek area, that is reached by traveling East from Grover.
For backpacking trails, some of the best bets are on the back of the Salt River Range and are accessible by going Southeast from Alpine into the Greys River valley. These include the Crow Creek and North and South Middle Ridge trails. Trail Fork is also a popular backpacking trail accessible from the Cottonwood Lake campground East of Smoot.
(11) Fishing - Locations Vary:
Star Valley is a haven for fishing. the waters of the Snake River system that run through and around Star Valley are plentiful, and full of fish of all kinds, including rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, Snake River cutthroat, and mountain whitefish.
The Salt River, which runs through Star Valley from Afton to Alpine, contains a wide variety of fish and is easily accessible at numerous spots from U.S. 89.
Greys River, Southeast of Alpine, is another good place to fish, as are the Murphy Lakes on the back of the Salt River Range, Strawberry Creek Reservoir, East of Bedford, and the Upper Swift Creek Reservoir East of Afton.
A fishing license is necessary to fish in Wyoming. Check with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department for license fees or to purchase a license.
Free Fishing Day in Wyoming takes place on the first Saturday in June each year and will allow you to fish without a license. Consider booking a half or full day float trip with a local guide or company to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of experts who know the river well.
And yes, we even have ice fishing!
Our site has a few articles written by a local fisherman of many years. Start with "Fishing in Star Valley - an Overview", and go from there.
(12) Boating - Locations Vary:
Star Valley features great spots for all types of boating. The Alpine Boat Landing sits just north of the Snake River off U.S. 89 in Alpine, and provides convenient access for boating on the Snake River and Palisades Reservoir.
The Blowout Boat Ramp is also a short 15-minute drive from Alpine along the East side of Palisades Reservoir, just across the Idaho border.
For kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, some of the best spots include the Bridge Day Use Area just up Greys River Road from Alpine, and Cottonwood Lake East of Smoot.