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GUEST BLOG: The Most Amazing Playground

Beautiful Wyoming-
where our hearts are free to roam,
but we’ll always come back home.

Hi everyone, I’m back!

After taking a month off as I handed down my title as Miss Wyoming, I am so excited to be continuing my blog with the American Heart Association. As you may know from my previous posts, the AHA has touched my life by allowing me to serve and advocate for their cause. I have seen firsthand the positive impact that the AHA has on Wyoming citizens- from our heart heroes to the thousands of students in schools who participated in programs such as Jump Rope For Heart. Thanks for all you do- “You’re the Cure, WY!”

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In the future, my blog will continue to be a place to explore the development of heart-healthy habits for Wyomingites of all ages and backgrounds! We all have a responsible role to play in taking care of our own hearts, as well as encouraging younger generations in behaviors that will protect their own.

A key component in maintaining a healthy heart is getting 30 minutes of exercise a day. With adults, this may be easier said than done. Working in an office can often be mentally exhausting, even when there isn’t much physical activity involved. However, we should consider ourselves SO blessed to live in the great Cowboy State. We have the most amazing playground (with incredible views) right out our windows!

Exercising for as little as half an hour each day can have BIG benefits upon your heart health! The heart is essentially a large muscle, and it is strengthened through exercise. This makes it more efficient in its function- pumping and distributing blood throughout your body. The stronger your heart is, the more blood it can circulate with each beat, which will reduce strain and lower your blood pressure while increasing good HDL cholesterol. In turn, you will be at lower risk for health issues such as heart disease and diabetes!

So, what’s your favorite way to be active for 30 minutes a day? In Wyoming, a lot of us like to go outside!

I am by no means an expert or the most avid hiker out there, but I do love the refreshing feel of the great outdoors, and I love discovering new places hidden away in the mountains. While I certainly haven’t been everywhere (most of these are located in the general area I live), I am excited to share with you 5 of my favorite hikes I’ve taken in Wyoming. All of these are fairly accessible for beginners, so they’re perfect if you’re looking to hit that 30-minute-a-day exercise goal this summer!

1. Devils Tower
Location: Hulett, WY
Distance: 1.3 Miles

Hike around America’s very first national monument! This historic site is a must-see for anyone visiting or living in Wyoming. The 1.3 mile trek around the base of the rock is completely paved, providing for easy terrain. There’s also a visitor center at the base of the trail where you can learn about the history of the monument and the heritage of the Native Americans whose tales about the rock are sure to captivate you. Be on the lookout for a few other short trails in the area, including Red Beds, Joyner Ridge, and Valley View!

Devils Tower

2. Tongue River Canyon
Location: Dayton, WY
Distance: Approx. 3 miles

This is a good trail for hikers of all skill levels! The Tongue River Canyon trail is breathtakingly beautiful, with the river running below and a path running through the canyon and into the foothills of the mountains. The trail is not paved and definitely provides for a good workout, although it does not require you to be an extremely experienced hiker. You can go fishing, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, or camping in the area. There’s even the option to go spelunking in some caves if you’re feeling extra adventurous! This secluded area is private and off the beaten path enough to avoid overcrowding with tourists, but you won’t be completely alone in your activities. Whether for an hour long hike in the morning or for a full weekend of exploration, Tongue River Canyon is definitely one of my favorites!

Tongue River Canyon

3. Paradise Falls
Location: Bighorn National Forest, WY
Distance: Approx. 1 mile

I visited this location for the first time this month on the 4th of July, and I was amazed! The hike into the little canyon isn’t super long or difficult- a little over a mile probably. It leads to a beautiful series of waterfalls and deeper pools, creating natural water slides for you to enjoy if you’re up to braving the cool temperatures of the snow-melt in North Beaver Creek! I didn’t get any pictures of the waterfalls while I was there for some reason, so you’ll just have to take my word for it and check it out for yourselves! This photo was snapped overlooking the canyon near Little Bald Mountain right next to the falls.

Paradise Falls
4. Porcupine Falls
Location: Bighorn National Forest; near Lovell, WY
Distance: 0.8 miles

Another hidden gem of the Bighorns, Porcupine Falls is another waterfall hike/swimming hole to cool off in on a day off! This place is great because it’s one that mostly only the locals know about, so it’s not likely to be overcrowded unless you’re there on a holiday weekend. This trail is slightly more difficult due to parts with steep terrain and is in its best condition from May to September, when it’s not too slippery. However, it’s short, and everybody (even the less experienced) can make it as long as you’re careful! The hike in takes about 15 minutes or less, and the waterfall is so pretty! Is anybody down for some cliff jumping here?

Porcupine Falls

5. Steamboat Rock
Location: Bighorn National Forest; near Dayton, WY
Distance: Approx. 1.7 miles

Last but certainly not least, Steamboat Point! This 700-foot face of rock is a natural icon of the Bighorn Mountains. The trailhead is located just feet from the highway, making it easy to access. Although it is steep and unpaved, the trail can easily be accomplished within an hour, roundtrip. The view from the top is one of the most memorable and breathtaking I’ve ever experienced, making all that hard work worthwhile- you can see for miles on end! Black Mountain Lookout and many more Cloud Peak trails are nearby, making this a hub for your wilderness hiking adventures.

Steamboat Rock

That’s it! I hope you find time to check these little adventures off your bucket list sometime this summer- your heart will thank you for it! In fact, I challenge you to find your own favorite spots in Wyo and share them with your family and friends. Make your heart health a team effort! Some of my other favorite places include trails in Yellowstone National Park (you’ll definitely run into more tourists, but it’s so worth seeing!) and the Grand Tetons near Jackson Hole. I would also recommend downloading the Hiking Project App- it’s free, and provides information and maps for thousands of hikes in your area!

Don’t forget to get involved with the lifesaving advocacy work of the American Heart Association today! Add your voice by simply texting HEART to 46839 right now, or visit https://www.yourethecure.org/join. It only takes a few minutes, and you will be part of a powerful movement to make a difference and save lives.

Forever your Miss Wyoming 2017 and AHA Advocate,

Cheyenne Buyert

Cheyenne Buyert

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