Freedom was established in 1879, making it the oldest town in Star Valley. It got its name after early Mormon polygamists ventured into the area after outrunning the law in Idaho in order to gain freedom. The early settlers had to simply walk across the street in order to be in another jurisdiction. Now, the current population of Freedom is about 214. Believe it or not, Freedom used to be the largest settlement in Star Valley. There was a general store, gas station, billiard hall and other buildings that made up all of the hustle and bustle in the area. Some of the old buildings still stand today.
With a population of around 2,000, this small town is rich in history. Afton was founded in 1885. An early resident named the town after getting some inspiration from the nearby Swift Creek. As he watched the creek’s waters, he remarked that the poet Burns could not have meant this tumbling stream when he wrote, “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton.” There is so much to see and do in Afton! As you enter, you are greeted by the world’s largest Elkhorn Arch; it was built in 1958 with over 3,000 elk antlers! And just five miles east is the Intermitted Spring, the largest cold water geyser that starts and stops every 18 minutes. There is also ample fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities nearby. With shops and restaurants downtown, there is something for everyone to enjoy!
For the gun enthusiast, a trip to the Freedom Arms manufacturing facility is a must-see. Freedom Arms, Inc. is the maker of a range of guns including the .454 Casull handgun and revolvers. Visitors are welcome to come during working hours to see their display of handguns and view a short video of their weapons in action. Freedom Arms is proud of their firearms’ accuracy, ballistics and craftsmanship. If you decide to purchase a firearm, there are experienced sales staff available at the factory that can help you make the best choice of revolver for your needs.
The Elkhorn Arch is a truly unique attraction that you won’t want to miss. In early summer 1956, members of the Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of erecting an arch over Main Street. Most of the antlers came from the Wyoming Elk Preserve near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The arch was completed in 1958 at a cost of about $2,500. The arch consists of about 3,000 elk antlers, stands about 18 feet high, and is the largest elkhorn arch in the world! To recreate this arch today, it would cost over $300,000 for the antlers alone! Since its completion, it has been repaired and more elkhorns have been added. It requires a yearly coating of a special plastic finish to keep it looking in great shape. Be sure to stop and take a picture as you drive through downtown Afton!
Even though the Afton Freedom Festival is not held in Freedom, the event attracts people from all over the Star Valley. The Afton Freedom Festival is about 20 miles south of Freedom and is held at the end of June. There is something for everyone to enjoy, including a junior rodeo, fish scramble, vendors, 3-on-3 basketball, rancher's rodeo, and fireworks! In addition to the festival, the Star Valley Arts Council hosts the Afton Art Fair. Visitors attend this free art show to view fine art from local artists; there are even gorgeous pieces for sale! Although it was held for the first time earlier this year, it was a huge success, and the Star Valley Arts Council is excited to start making plans for next year!
Summer in Afton is an exciting time! It is said the Lincoln County Fair is the largest event in the Star Valley. The fair is held in Afton every summer and is a favorite among the locals. The fair consists of the Swift Idol competition, a EnduroCross motorbike competition, carnival rides, and exhibits. There is also a fair parade, a PRCA rodeo, a demolition derby, 4-H and livestock shows, horse pulls, and hog wrestling. There is even live music! With something for everyone to enjoy, you won’t want to miss this exciting fair!
Although it's not in Freedom, we had to mention Juan's House of Tacos because of their irresistible food! Located just 4.7 miles from Freedom, this highly favored restaurant serves authentic Mexican food cooked all from scratch. They serve a variety of appetizers including quesadillas, nachos and various dips. As entrees, they serve taco salad, burritos, chimichangas, tostadas, fajitas, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and seafood. They also have a vegetarian menu, so there is something for everyone to enjoy! After a filling dinner, be sure to save room for one of their many desserts, such as flan, “Pastel de Tres Leches”, and “Bunuelo con Nieve”. With excellent customer service and homemade recipes, Juan’s House of Tacos will surely become a favorite of yours!
When you are in Wyoming, you typically don’t think of seafood as a menu option. However, Rocky Mountain Seafood in Afton is a must! They offer farm-raised salmon, clam strips, shrimp, Alaskan halibut, calamari strips, oysters, ahi tuna, cod, and so much more! For your appetizer, you can choose from shrimp bread, coleslaw, parmesan bread, onion rings, macaroni bites, chowder in bread bowl, or French fries. And if you're not a fan of seafood, don't worry! Rocky Mountain Seafood also offers a “Fish Haters Menu”. This includes chicken strips with fries or macaroni bites, mini-corn dogs with fries or macaroni bites, and 12 oz choice rib-eye steak with fries and slaw. After a day of outdoor exploration or a day of shopping downtown, be sure to stop into Rocky Mountain Seafood to satisfy your taste buds!