Cheyenne, Wyoming's capital, is a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in cowboys and Old West history.
Western history can be explored at the Cheyenne Frontier Days' Old West Museum, the Cheyenne Depot Museum, or by taking a walking tour through the historic district. Every July, Cheyenne hosts the huge Cheyenne Frontier Days festival, which includes rodeos, parades, and more.
For outdoor aficionados, the city provides swimming pools, a skateboard park, two golf courses, a Botanic Garden, paddle boat rentals and many hiking trails.
The city is surprisingly full of attractions and activities to keep you busy on your next visit.
The Old West Museum focuses on the history of the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the "world's largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration," but also includes a rich collection of western artifacts and exhibits that highlight the cultural history of the region. The museum holds a significant collection of horse-drawn vehicles—many of them in original condition—that include stagecoaches, a milk wagon, and a chuckwagon. The Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame, meeting space, children's programs, and a museum store are among the Old West Museum's offerings.
Built around the railroad, mining, and cattle ranching, Cheyenne thrived during its early decades, both before and after becoming a state in 1890. The city's historic downtown reflects this colorful past in its grand hotels, stately business buildings, and lavish homes. A fun and interesting way to take in these amazing buildings, as well as the stories and the characters behind them, is on a walking tour. Brochures with maps and descriptions of over 50 structures are available online or at local businesses and visitor centers.
Cheyenne's major and long-running event, the Cheyenne Frontier Days festival runs for 10 days each July. Known as "the Daddy of 'em All," the professional rodeo competition is the star attraction. Each scheduled rodeo includes the full range of events along with entertaining track acts. Other major events on the schedule include the Grand Parade (which runs several days), the Chuckwagon Cookoff, an air show, and concerts from major country music performers. The "Indian Village" offers Native American dance, storytelling, and performances as well as food and vendor booths. "Wild Horse Gulch" is an Old West street fair, complete with food and craft booths plus live entertainment.
The exhibits and collections at the Wyoming State Museum feature both the natural and human history of the state and the Rocky Mountain region. During your visit, you'll learn about the land and people of Wyoming, with exhibits covering everything from dinosaur fossils discovered in the state to pioneer-era trails to Wyoming's transition from territory to statehood. The resident wildlife and natural resources are also a focus topic. One gallery, called the "Hands-on History Room," is designed to tell Wyoming's story in an interactive way that appeals to children.
Cheyenne grew with the coming of the railroad and played an important role in the opening of the American West to settlement and development. The magnificent Cheyenne Depot opened to serve Union Pacific Railroad operations in 1887 and is now preserved as a National Historic Landmark. The Depot Museum, located on the first floor, offers exhibits related to railroad history. You'll also find a restaurant and brewery, offices, and event space. The Cheyenne Depot Plaza serves as an outdoor community space, hosting such events as the annual Depot Days and a New Years Eve celebration.
For an informative and relaxing tour of the city, climb aboard the adorable red and green Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley. The journey begins at the Depot Buildings in downtown and then drives through the historic business district, grand homes of former land barons, and past railroad relics.
An expert guide provides narration during the ride relaying bits of trivia and history about the town. During the week, passengers have the option of hopping on and off at each of the seven stops, while the weekend and holiday tours are without pause for the 90-minute excursion.
Completed in 1890, the same year Wyoming became a state, the Wyoming State Capitol Building is constructed of locally-quarried stone in a grand classical style. The building is open for self-guided tours on weekdays; group and/or guided tours require advance arrangements. During your visit, explore the Capitol Building's interior public spaces, including the rotunda and its gorgeous stained-glass dome.
Depending on the business schedule of the day, you may be able to see the lovely and historic appointments in the various legislative chambers and meeting spaces, including colorful murals, stained glass, and ornate fixtures. Outside you can take in the architectural details of this National Historic Landmark and tour the grounds, viewing sculptures and monuments honoring Wyoming's important citizens and events.
Home of Wyoming state governors and their families from 1905 to 1976, this stately Colonial Revival mansion is now a historic house museum open to the public for tours. During your free guided or self-guided tours, you'll explore rooms on all three floors of the home as well as the basement. Depending on the room, there are furnishings and artifacts representative of life in 1905, the 1930s, the 1950s, or the 1960s. Among the many interesting rooms, you'll see the Governor's Den, the basement fallout shelter, the VIP guest bedroom, and the library.
Located between the Cheyenne Frontier Days Park and the airport, the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens provide a colorful place to stroll on a pleasant afternoon. Over 25 different gardens can be found within the grounds, including rose gardens, perennial gardens, a xeriscape garden, and a cactus garden. Check out the conservatory, a historic locomotive, sculptures, and fountains. Children will enjoy the Paul Smith Children's Village with its gardens, landscapes, and featured structures such as a windmill, waterworks, and a geodesic dome.
Take a road trip about 7 miles south of Cheyenne to find a 27,500-acre working ranch with over 2500 head of bison, plus ostriches, camels, and horses—all available to be seen by a custom-built mini train. Guests can play cowboy during a one hour guided trail ride that runs every day but Christmas, no matter the weather conditions. For the little ones, the Ranch has options galore to keep them occupied including a Ferris wheel, pony rides and a trout lake at the Kids’ Corral.
Guests won't go hungry at the ranch—the Senator's Steakhouse and Saloon serves up award-winning Bison shortribs and burgers, alongside other classic western food. During the warmer weather months, the Ranch hosts cook-outs that draw locals and tourists.
The west wasn't just won by the boys—and the Cowgirls of the West Museum showcases the history that proves it. The site is home to a variety of western and historical memorabilia, featuring antiques, saddles & tack, clothing, and other artifacts of the various women that impacted the growth of the American West.
Volunteer members offer detailed stories about the adventurous women featured in the museum, and from September to June, there are monthly luncheons with guest speakers around themes like pioneer and ranching homesteads and the origins of rodeo and trick riding.
If someone in your family is train crazy, they won't want to pass up a chance to gawk and gaze at the Big Boy Steam Engine. The coal-powered engine is the largest in the world, and prior to being decommissioned hauled 3600-tons of the train behind it over the terrain between Cheyenne and Ogden, Utah.
The train, one of only eight on display around the country, is located at the southeast corner of Holliday Park.
For a taste of authentic local fare, Cheyenne's Farmer's Market offers a selection of home-made goods and products. During the summer from the first week in August to the first week in October, over 40 vendors sell fresh produce, artisan baked goods, local honey, and a menagerie of plants and flowers along the road of 15th Street in Downtown. Once the weather gets cold, the market moves indoors to the Depot Plaza and the options available expand to brined vegetables, soaps, lotions, and cured meats.
Visit the temporary home of early Wyoming's worst desperados at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. Built in 1872, the prison, hosted the most menacing of black hats of the era, including Butch Cassidy, before transforming into a scientific research facility to advance farming techniques in the early 20th century.
Visitors can explore the prison cells, picnic across 197 acres, wander through exhibits like "How a Prison went from Convicts to Cows," and visit the gift shop. The facility is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 1 through October 31 and is about a 45-minute drive from Cheyenne.