Feminist Passport: Your travel guide to Wyoming
You want to see the world, but sometimes the world is an unfriendly place. That’s why HelloGiggles is bringing you Feminist Passport, a guide to all of the most inclusive hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, and sights to visit on your next big adventure. Because travel should be for everyone.
I’ll be honest: When it came to my feminist travel bucket list, Wyoming wasn’t exactly on my radar—it’s a solidly red state, and its current politicians aren’t known for championing women’s rights. But there’s more to Wyoming than meets the eye, and it starts with the state’s history.
The 19th Amendment granting some American women the right to vote was passed by Congress in 1919, but it didn’t make much of a difference for the women of Wyoming—they’d already had the right to vote for 50 years. In December 1869, the state passed a law guaranteeing women the right to vote and hold office. Because Wyoming was the first state to pass such a law, many of its residents refer to it as “The Equality State.”
That’s why I headed to Wyoming this summer—to celebrate 150 years of women’s suffrage in the state—and to experience adventures in the wilderness lead by women and check out some of the best women-owned businesses in the state. Here are the highlights of my trip that proved badass women in Wyoming are out there doing the damn thing—they’re the reason it’s totally worth taking a trip to this beautiful state ASAP.
1Take a pack trip with Bear Basin Adventures
As someone who had never ridden a horse until this trip, I was a bit daunted at the prospect of a six-hour pack trip through the mountains of Shoshone National Forest (fun fact: this gorgeous spot is America’s first national forest). But after meeting Sarah and Heath Woltman, owners of Bear Basin Adventures, and Blue, the beautiful, sweet-tempered horse I was paired with for the day, my mind was completely at ease.
Along with a group of 13 other travelers, Sarah and Heath guided us through rugged terrain and made sure we had plenty of opportunities to rest when needed and stop for photos of the incredible scenery. At lunchtime, yoga-based therapist Jaime Bedard lead a meditation and yoga session for the group. Bedard frequently collaborates with Bear Basin Adventures on “Yoga and Meditation Ladies Getaway” trips. These five-day excursions are open to anyone who identifies as female and offer a combination of adventure and relaxation.
2Pay a visit to the Women in Wyoming exhibit
Based in Jackson Hole, photographer Lindsay Linton is a fifth-generation Wyoming native who returned to her home state after stints in New York City and Los Angeles. She founded Linton Productions in 2014 and spearheaded the multi-faceted Women in Wyoming storytelling project. Linton sought out a wide variety of women to photograph and interview, including politicians, artists, lawyers, authors, and businesswomen. “The common thread is that these women fought hard to be where they are today,” she explained.
The Women in Wyoming exhibit will debut at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW) in Cody on October 25th, and is slated to run through August 2nd, 2020. Although the women’s stories are rooted in Wyoming, Linton emphasized that their experiences and messages are universal.
3Explore the South Pass Historic Site
Head to South Pass Historic Site and you’ll follow the route known as “Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Pathway.” South Pass is an abandoned mining town that is lots of fun to explore. It’s also the place where, in 1870, Esther Hobart Morris became the first woman in America to hold public office as a Justice of the Peace.
In addition to touring the town’s historic buildings, you can also head underground for a tour of its tunnels and mines.
4Sip wine and shop at Sidekicks Book Bar
I never met an independent bookstore I didn’t like, but owner Lisa Ryberg brings it to the next level at Sidekicks Book Bar by serving up wine, charcuterie boards, and dessert for shoppers. Although the store is small, the collection is thoughtful and well-curated and I could have easily spent hours browsing its shelves, glass of wine in hand.
I left with two books, but if I’d had more space in my suitcase I’m fairly certain that number would have risen to at least five. So, fellow bookworms: learn from my mistakes and leave some extra room in your suitcase before you head to Wyoming.
As someone who admittedly lives in a city that’s a liberal bubble, my trip served as an important reminder that women in all 50 states are doing incredible things and we shouldn’t make sweeping judgements of every single person who resides in a less-than-progressive state. By doing so, we just might miss out on new experiences and meeting some seriously inspirational women.