10 Top Things to Do in and Around Gillette, WY

Gillette, Wyoming

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Gillette, a city in the northeast corner of Wyoming, is known for providing almost 35 percent of the nation's coal and is also a significant producer of oil and natural gas. Thus, Gillette calls itself the "Energy Capital" of the country.

Gillette—and other towns in Northeast Wyoming, including Sundance, Moorcroft, and Wright—offer interesting things to do. Tourists can experience bird watching, swimming, and fishing at Keyhole State Park, or drive up north to Devils Tower National Monument, one of Wyoming's most popular attractions. To get a taste of small-town American life, Gillette also invites visitors to see a buffalo jump, wander its historic downtown, and tour a coal mine.

Read on to discover some of the top things to do in Gillette and the surrounding area.

01 of 10

Hike at Devils Tower National Monument

Devil's Tower National Monument

Richard Cummins / Getty Images

WY-110, Devils Tower, WY 82714, USA
Phone +1 307-467-5283

The first national monument in the U.S., Devils Tower is sacred to many Native American tribes and is a compelling sight to visitors. Jutting up among the surrounding grasslands, the monument is an odd and noteworthy geological formation that demands your attention as it stands 1,267 feet (386 meters) above the Belle Fourche River. You can hike, climb, and explore the visitor center's interpretive exhibits and bookstore.

Travelers can view Devils Tower National Monument 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The visitor center is also open daily, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

02 of 10

Explore Vore Buffalo Jump

Aerial view of the Vore Buffalo Jump

Gregory Stephen Baker / Getty Images

369 Old U.S. 14, Sundance, WY 82729, USA
Phone +1 307-266-9530

The Late-Prehistoric Plains Indians made clever use of the natural landscape for their annual buffalo hunts. Now an active archaeological site, the Vore Buffalo Jump took advantage of a sinkhole in the landscape. Scientists determined that this particular buffalo jump was in use relatively recently, from about 1500 to 1800. The exhibit building at the site is a great place to learn about how Plains Indians drove the buffalo herds off of the jump as well as how every part of the animal was harvested and used. You can also visit the actual outdoor pit and observe the excavations in progress.

The Vore Buffalo Jump, located just east of Sundance off of Interstate 90, offers guided public tours early June through Labor Day and is usually closed the rest of the year, though off-season tours may be arranged.

03 of 10

Take a Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Gillette

Gillette, Wyoming Post Office

Ohiowyo / Wiki Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

314 S Gillette Ave, Gillette, WY 82716-3706, USA
Phone +1 307-682-3673

To check out the former City Hall (where everything from dances to funerals to public meetings took place) or the old Gillette Post Office (which is on the National Register of Historic Places), stop by the Gillette Visitor Center to pick up a free walking tour guidebook. For a more modernized experience, the no-cost TravelStorys app offers an audio tour that plays as you and your phone stop in front of any of the 10 tour stops along the way.

04 of 10

Visit Campbell County Rockpile Museum

Eisele Exhibit at Campbell County Rockpile Museum in Gillette, Wyoming

Mr. Satterly / Wiki Commons / Public Domain

369 Old U.S. 14, Sundance, WY 82729, USA
Phone +1 307-266-9530

This local museum that takes its name from the Rockpile, a landmark rock formation, does have a few rocks. The focus, however, is on the history and culture of Gillette and Campbell County. Exhibits at this museum include artifacts from early homesteading, ranching, and mining days, as well as information about the region's current mining industry. During your visit, you can watch a film about coal mining or explore a temporary exhibit to learn more about the cultural history of the area's Powder River Basin. General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for students; discounts may apply.

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05 of 10

Tour a Wyoming Coal Mine

coal surface mining in Campbell County, Wyoming

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

10023 US-14, Gillette, WY 82716, USA
Phone +1 307-687-3300

While you're in the "Energy Capital of the Nation," consider heading straight to the source. During a guided tour of Eagle Butte Coal Mine, you will learn about Wyoming's vast coal reserves, observe massive mining equipment in operation, see the actual surface mine, and get information about the post-mining land reclamation activities. Tours are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day and cost $10 a person; children 5 and under can join for free. Reservations are required with the Gillette Visitor Center.

06 of 10

View Wildlife at Keyhole State Park

Keyhole State Park in Crook County, Wyoming

Mr. Satterly / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

22 Marina Rd, Moorcroft, WY 82721-9226, USA
Phone +1 307-756-3596

Located slightly north of Moorcroft on the western edge of the Black Hills, Keyhole State Park is a popular place year-round for outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, and wildlife- and bird-watching. There are 10 campgrounds in the park (some of which offer cabins or RV hookups) and are sometimes utilized by families planning a visit to Devils Tower National Monument. Park facilities include a beach just south of the Keyhole marina, a picnic area and shelter, and children's playgrounds. For non-residents, it costs $12 per vehicle for day-use entry.

07 of 10

Enjoy Sculptures on a Walking Tour of Art

Creativity galore can be found on the Avenues of Art walking tour across town, sponsored by the City of Gillette and the Mayor’s Art Council. Visitors may check out more than 100 sculptures throughout Gillette in freely accessible public areas. Each work of art—designed by local and national artists—is first unveiled at the annual Donkey Creek Festival, after which it is on view for a year. To grab a brochure with a map covering each piece in this year’s exhibit, visit the City of Gillette's official website. Like what you see? Each sculpture is for sale.

08 of 10

Visit the Wildlife at Durham Ranch

7835 WY-59, Gillette, WY 82718, USA
Phone +1 307-939-1271

At Durham Ranch, which claims to be one of the largest and oldest working buffalo ranches in the world, approximately 3,000 bison roam the 55,000-acre grounds. In the summer and early fall, you're welcome to see the animals on a two-hour tour of the ranch, whose first buffalo came from Yellowstone National Park when it opened in 1965. During your visit, you will not only get to watch the bison graze, but you will also see the working facilities and may get a glimpse of other wildlife such as elk, black tail prairie dogs, bobcats, and badgers. After your tour, you can check out the gift shop for a souvenir to take home. Tours are $25 per adult and $10 for children ages 5–15; families of four can visit for $55.

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09 of 10

Tour the Frontier Relics & Auto Museum

205 S Ross Ave, Gillette, WY 82716, USA
Phone +1 307-686-5667

Bringing together automobiles and Americana in 13,000 square feet, the Frontier Relics & Auto Museum features everything from classic cars, gas pumps, and neon signs to a model railway and rooms decorated in early 20th-century style. At the museum's indoor drive-in theater, you can watch commercials and classic movies like "Guys and Dolls" and "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," while the pharmacy and soda shop invites visitors to eat ice cream and play pinball. Head to the Frontier Relics antique and artisan store, and you can purchase coffee before browsing vintage home décor, accessories, books, and treats. Throughout the year, the museum hosts events like open mic nights and the Show & Shine Car Show. It costs $12 for adults to visit the museum, while kids 12 and under are free; discounts may apply.

10 of 10

Catch Live Music at the Donkey Creek Festival

Donkey Creek Festival

Courtesy of Donkey Creek Festival

For two days in late June at Gillette College, the town is home to the fun Donkey Creek Festival, which features plenty of live music and family entertainment. The outdoor event is also full of art exhibitions, and it's the place the chosen sculptures for each year's Avenues of Art make an appearance. There are also food vendors, a beer tent, and children's activities. The festival has no entrance fee, whether you are a local or a visitor.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is Gillette, WY known for?

    Gillette, Wyoming is best known as the "Energy Capital of the Nation," but it also serves as an excellent base for exploring Devils Tower National Monument, the country's first national monument.

  • How far is Gillette from Yellowstone?

    Yellowstone National Park 289.6 miles west of Gillette; it takes just over five hours to drive from one to the other, depending on traffic.

  • How far is Mount Rushmore from Gillette?

    Mount Rushmore is 134 miles southeast of Gillette. It takes approximately two-and-a-half hours to drive the distance one way.

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10 Top Things to Do in and Around Gillette, WY