Why is Afton, Wyoming so special? Let me try to explain. It’s a hiking, horseback riding, and fly fishing paradise, but it’s also much more than that. I once heard someone speaking about Hawaii in reference to why it’s so special. They went on to explain that the experience stands out because you get a feeling that stays with you. Likewise, in Afton, the majestic mountain beauty surrounds you, there is no light pollution for your star gazing nights, and there is an overall friendly western culture combined with its recreation.
Afton is more than just an experience, it’s an escape.
Connected Cowboy Culture
Upon arrival in late June, My Town was fortunate to be visiting during some of the town’s favorite festivities, Afton’s Freedom Festival. During the festival, one of the great activities we participated in was the Ranch Rodeo.
What made this rodeo unique fun, was that it’s made up of local ranchers and cowboys. These were not rodeo professionals, these were hard working ranch men and women. During the show you got to see not only what these cowboys and cowgirls do for a living, but it was clear how much fun they were having participating in this charity event.
Wyoming is known for its expansive ranches and cowboy culture, but it was a rare treat to be able to see the camaraderie that comes from this type of culture up close and personal, in a small town like Afton.
Small Town Scramble
My Town continued to take part in many activities during the festival, especially the town favorite The Fish Scramble! If you have never seen this before click here for the video. This was definitely a new experience, and clearly something supported by nearly the entire town.
The Fish Scramble also took place during the town’s Freedom Festival festivities at the fairgrounds. There were lots of fun and games all day long, concluding with the rodeo and fireworks. It was awesome to see the entire town come out for the festivities, and show a sense of pride for their town and for their country.
One of our funniest family moments, was when the fish our boys caught during the scramble got loose in the car on the way back to our cabin! Yep, so that happened, click here to see the crazy fun!
The Best The Valley Has to Offer
Afton is located in what is called Star Valley, a place that seems to be untouched by time because of its immense beauty, and the star blanket you see in the evenings. The namesake Star Valley, originated because of where it’s located in Western Wyoming, it has almost no light pollution. If admiring the stars for recreation or knowledge is something you love, then you cannot miss a trip to Star Valley. Click here for more information on Star Valley’s history and beauty.
Star Valley is located in the Salt River Mountains, which is part of the Salt River Range. The majestic mountains are all around you in Afton. Located in between these beautiful features, are valleys with wonderful hiking trails and hidden pockets just waiting to be discovered. A few great places that you do not want to miss are Cottonwood Lake, known for its rugged beauty and clear water, and Afton’s Intermittent Spring.
The Intermittent or Periodic Spring, is a natural feature that is exactly what it sounds like. It is a giant spring fed by mountain snow melt, it ebbs and flows into Swift Creek which feeds the town of Afton. The hike to the Intermittent Spring is beautiful. As you walk alongside Swift Creek, it’s a great place to see wildlife at certain times of day; including: deer, moose, and bear, if you’re lucky (or maybe not).
And there is so much more…..
There is also a fossil field on the Intermittent Spring Trail. This is an awesome way to spend an afternoon with kids. Every time the hillside replenishes itself with new rocks, there will be a plentiful supply of fossilized plant and ocean crustacean life.
Additionally, Fly Fishing is definitely a way of life in Afton. You can see this by the fact that there are two fly fishing shops just down the road from each other in this small town. One good reason for this is the access. You can find several access points all up and down Salt River, which runs through Star Valley or The Narrows.
Wherever you choose, you should take time to talk to the locals, and check out Afton fishing. Here are a few good resources.
And of course there are several great places to go horseback riding in Afton. My Town went to Rockin M Ranch, which has wonderful guides for horseback riding in the mountains, and fly fishing too!
Inns and Institutions
It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions and brings them back to life. In Afton you can stay and eat at The Valleon. At the Valleon you can stay in a hotel from the 1930’s, and they have a cafe, restaurant, and saloon on-site. Even if you don’t stay, make sure to stop in to see this part of Afton’s history.
Afton’s also investing in the new while focusing on the allure of the Mountains for lodging.
The Kodiak Mountain Resort offers the feeling of being out West the minute you walk in the door, while also delivering every creature comfort. There is something for everyone at the Kodiak, a great place for families or couples, or if you’re just passing through. My Town would recommend if you want the Afton experience- stay in a cabin. Click here to see the aerial view of the property.
There are also great cabins to rent in the area though places like Airbnb and VRBO. If you’re staying longer than a week, and need a dedicated cooking area, this is a great option while staying in Afton. No matter where you stay in Star Valley, you will most likely have a Mountain View!
Washington Avenue Eats
There are lots of great locally owned places to eat in Afton, trust me you will be well fed! Here a few My Town Favorites.
Red Baron Drive-In since 1968!- Heggs Grill another family-owned diner style, with great portions. Agave Family Mexican Restaurant, and Rocky Mountain Seafood- Amazing Mexican and seafood, and are local favorites.
Afton is a friendly town where meeting the locals makes you feel welcome. A place where families can get into the great outdoors and have experiences that are going to stick with them for a very long time, if not their entire lifetime. Afton is a place that stays with you.
The Unique, Interesting, Yours, of Afton
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a book store with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Afton.
Aviat Aircraft– Hand-crafted planes, right in small town Afton. Taking a tour is an awesome way to spend a morning with family.
The Largest Elk Horn Arch- Yep, it’s pretty cool! Located in the middle of downtown, it lends a lot of fun to your first day exploring in Afton. Make sure to stop at these great small businesses too!
Star Valley Chocolates – Go here to talk to the owners, not just for the amazing chocolates, it’s part of the experience!
Dog-Eared Books– Missing the adorable book stores of the pre dot com age? Stop here!
Swift Creek Trading Co.- All things Afton- especially if you’re needing a pair of cowboy boots or a hat- stop here!
Our Valley Pharmacy– Not just a pharmacy, but is also a great gift shop. This business made the list because while My Town visited, they had a grand opening where they invited the entire town for a cook out! It was so much fun, and it looked like the whole town came!
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This can include Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! Here are some great MTT Antique and Market Finds from Afton and Star Valley.
Salt River Soap Works -Hand-made, local, amazing!
The Cozy Berry Bakery- If you’re visiting in the summer, try anything made with the locally grown Huckleberry!! Also has great Coffee!
Smith’s Antique and Second Hand-You can actually spend all day in here, and possibly get lost. But if you love great antique shops where you have to search for great finds, this place is amazing!!
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its citizens would recommend for My Town to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Ketchum, ID. Stay tuned for My Town Today to pop up there soon.
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