CHEYENNE, WYOMING, INVITES TRAVELERS TO STEP BACK INTO THE OLD WEST AND “LIVE THE LEGEND”
Cowboys, Rodeos, Railroads, Majestic Plains and All Things Western
Cheyenne Captures the Imagination of the American West
CHEYENNE, Wyoming - Cheyenne. The name brings forth romantic images of the West - cowboys, rodeos, railroads and majestic plains. Named a "True Western Town" by True West Magazine and "#1 Western Town" in 2009, the town's slogan, "Cheyenne - Live the Legend," is a fitting invitation for travelers to come visit and take a step back into the Old West.
Located just 90 miles north of Denver, Cheyenne sits as the northern anchor of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and is surrounded by some of the nation's most beloved monuments. South Dakota's Mt. Rushmore and Black Hills, Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park and Wyoming's own Devils Tower, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are all within a day's drive of the city.
But within Cheyenne, travelers will find more than they ever expected - cowboys and cowgirls, rodeos, ranches, gunslingers, historic hotels, "Western High Style" cuisine, good old-fashioned Western entertainment, trolley cars, boots that are eight-feet tall, the world's largest stream engine, the Wyoming state capitol, history, Western art and artifacts and much more. As travelers will see, Cheyenne truly is home to all things Western.
World-famous Frontier Days
In the January/February 2009 issue of True West Magazine, Cheyenne was named the nation's No. 1 "True Western Town." The city was recognized in large part for its annual Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration, the world's largest outdoor rodeo and Western Celebration. Started in 1897, this year's festivities will take place July 22 - 31 and feature 10 days of the world's best PRCA rodeo action. From bull riding and barrel racing to steer wrestling and team roping, Cheyenne Frontier Days has it all. Nightly concerts, parades, pancake breakfast, Chuck wagon Cook-off and other varieties of Western entertainment are also a trademark of this much-beloved annual celebration.
Whether visiting Cheyenne during Frontier Days or at another time, a stop at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum & Store is a must. A premier cultural center in Southeast Wyoming, the museum offers year-round programming, exhibits and activities that celebrate the heritage and pioneer spirit of the American West and the thrilling history of Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Home To All Things Western
There's more that makes Cheyenne a "True Western Town." When in Cheyenne, it's hard not to get into the spirit of the American West. Over the years, the Western excitement of Frontier Days has permeated into the daily living and overall feel of Cheyenne. From attractions and cuisine to shopping and entertainment, Cheyenne truly is home to all things Western.
Attractions: What could have more of a Western feel than a herd of bison grazing on the high plains? Terry Bison Ranch, which is located seven miles south of Cheyenne, consists of nearly 30,000 acres of rolling hills and lush grasslands - and more than 2,300 grazing bison. A train takes visitors right into the middle of the herd. The ranch is also home to horses, longhorn steer, camels, llamas and many other wild animals. In addition to the bison, the ranch features a lot of good old-fashioned Western fun, such as an old-West restaurant and saloon, Kid Corral, old-time photo studio, Trading Post, horseback riding, fishing and overnight accommodations, including an historic bunkhouse with 13 rooms.
Want to take a step back in time? Then be sure to catch a show by the Cheyenne Gunslingers. The gunslingers perform gunfights, Western skits and other Wild West activities in Gunslinger Square in downtown Cheyenne during the summer. The Nelson Museum of the West is dedicated to the preservation of fine cowboy art and Native American objects, as well as fine Western art. Rodeo, cowboy and Native American objects comprise the largest part of the museum's collection of more than 3,700 artifacts. Cowgirls of the West Museum highlights the substantial contributions cowgirls have made to the area's history. The museum features trick riding saddles, rodeo outfits, other memorabilia, as well as a gift store. For a firsthand look at authentic Western displays, a carriage owned by Buffalo Bill Cody, saddles and pistols dating back to 1810, make a stop at the Messenger Museum.
For the perfect evening of Western hospitality, plan to attend the Bit-O-Wyo Ranch Horse Barn Dinner Show. Meet some fabulous horses, enjoy a cowboy steak dinner with all the fixings and end the evening with cowboy music and comedy performed by the Blue Water Cowboy Band. Bit-O-Wyo also offers trail rides. Saddle up during the day for scenic trail rides featuring high ridges overlooking valleys and creeks.
Cuisine: To experience "Western High Style" cuisine at its finest, make a reservation at The Capitol Grille in The Historic Plains Hotel (established in 1911).
The Executive Chef serves up creative cuisine of American Western classics featuring the finest, fresh Wyoming local ingredients. Among the options on the dinner menu are Buffalo Sliders, Cheyenne Chicken and Beartooth Lake BBQ Salmon.
For the perfect old-Western restaurant and bar, be sure to visit The Senator's Restaurant and Brass Buffalo Saloon at Terry Bison Ranch. The Albany, opened in 1942, features time-tested and proven recipes developed by the Kallas family and staff.
Shopping: In Cheyenne, Western-wear stores seem to be everywhere you look. Need new cowboy boots, a riding shirt or a new cowboy hat? Try Boot Barn, The Wrangler and Just Dandy to name just a few of the Western-wear stores around town. Visitors wanting to incorporate a touch of Wyoming and the West into their homes should swing by Wyoming Home and All Wild & Western, which feature Western and Wyoming-themed home furnishings.
America's Railroad Capital
Not to be outdone by the cowboys and rodeos, trains have a legitimate claim in making Cheyenne America's "Railroad Capital." At heart, Cheyenne is a railroad town. Its first residents were men who moved west to work on the transcontinental railroad. Train enthusiasts will find themselves in train heaven in Cheyenne, as its various rail attractions are really quite impressive.
For starters, there's the Cheyenne Depot, which was built in 1886 - 1887 and formerly known as the Union Pacific Depot. Acknowledged as one of the most beautiful railroad stations in North America, it is one of the last of the great 19th century depots remaining on the transcontinental railroad and a major historical structure in the Rocky Mountain area. The Cheyenne Depot today is home to a visitor center, restaurant and the Cheyenne Depot Museum. Rich in railroad history, exhibits and interactive displays, the museum showcases the history and romance of the railroad.
About 25 miles west of Cheyenne along Interstate 80, stands the Ames Monument, which was built in about 1881 as a tribute to Oliver and Oakes Ames. The Ames brothers were leaders in the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The 60-foot tall granite monument is shaped like a pyramid and is an impressive sight on the Wyoming high plains.
Also headlining Cheyenne's railroad list is Big Boy, the world's largest steam locomotive. Even in retirement in Cheyenne's Holliday Park, Old Number 4004 remains an imposing sight. Big Boy, which is one of the eight remaining Big Boy's on display throughout the country, was built in 1941 to pull a 3,600-ton train over the steep grades between Cheyenne and Ogden, Utah.
Over in Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Lions Park rests Ol' Sadie, Wyoming's oldest steam engine. Built in 1890 in New Jersey, Ol' Sadie ran the Walcott-Saratoga Encampment branch line from 1921-1954. Cheyenne is also home to Wyoming's car of the Merci Train, 50 boxcars given to each state in 1949 by France in thanks for aid provided by the United States in World War II.
Home To Wyoming's Capitol and History
Just as the railroad plays an important role in Cheyenne's history, so too does Cheyenne play an important role in the state's history. Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and home to the impressive Wyoming State Capitol Building. A dominant structure on the Cheyenne skyline, the building's cornerstone was laid on May 18, 1887. Historically speaking, it is one of the most important buildings in the state.
Nearby is the Wyoming State Museum, which houses artifacts and collections showcasing Wyoming's history from its earliest beginnings. Featured in some of the museums' permanent galleries is "Wyoming's Story," a large interactive map that highlights that states' history ranging from archaeological sites to military forts; "R.I.P - Rex in Pieces," takes a look at Wyoming's earliest prehistoric residents, and "Hands-on History Room," brings Wyoming's history to life for children of all ages through touchable reproduction artifacts and a curiosity cabinet filled with artifacts to examine.
Also worth a visit is the Historic Governors' Mansion, the home of Wyoming's governors from 1905 - 1976. The mansion, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, has undergone $1 million in restoration and renovation work.
A City Brimming With Arts
Visitors hoping to find Western art in Cheyenne won't be disappointed. Among the various galleries in Cheyenne are Manitou Galleries, Deselms Fine Art, and Link Gallery. Manitou Galleries feature Western and historic art, wood carvings, antiques, bronzes and other sculpture, cowboy and Indian collectibles and more. Deselms Fine Art, which is located in one of Cheyenne's oldest homes, features original art by local and regional artists with national acclaim. Cheyenne Artists Guild hosts numerous art shows throughout the year. The historic Van Tassell Carriage House is the home of the guild, which was established in 1949 and is Wyoming's oldest continuously operating artists' association.
For performing arts, Cheyenne Little Theatre Players offers a year-round season of more than nine full-scale productions. It owns and operates the Mary Godfrey Playhouse and the Historic Atlas Theatre, built in 1887 and the permanent home for "The Old Fashioned Melodrama." This community theatre organization serves Cheyenne, the state of Wyoming, western Nebraska and northern Colorado. Cheyenne even has its own symphony. Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra performs concerts at the Cheyenne Civic Center.
Family Fun In Cheyenne
The romance and feel of the West won't be lost on kids visiting Cheyenne with their families. Of course, there are the usual things to do in Cheyenne like bowling and roller skating. And Cheyenne also features some really wonderful parks that are perfect for biking, hiking, boating and other great outdoor activities. In addition, the city offers some really interesting ways for kids to learn about Cheyenne and Wyoming and the history of both.
To get the big picture, there's the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley. The trolley, which operates from May to the end of September, features a fully-narrated historic tour of Cheyenne. For some seasonal fun, jump on board for a ghost tour in October or a Christmas lights tour in December.
To learn even more about the city's history, children of all ages will enjoy taking a scavenger hunt to find all the Cheyenne Big Boots. Each of these eight-feet-tall cowboy boots have been colorfully painted by local artists to show not only Cheyenne's history, but also Wyoming's history. In addition, "Wyoming Adventure" Miniature Golf is not just fun but educational. The 18-hole course is complete with replicas of such Wyoming natural wonders as Devils Tower, Old Faithful and dinosaur digs.
Speaking of digs, there's the University of Wyoming Archeological Dig Site in nearby Pine Bluffs. It's an active site of historic Indian relics and pre-historic artifacts dating back more than 11,000 years and includes an archaeology museum that houses artifacts from the dig site area. Archaeologists can show visitors how the artifacts are uncovered and handled after they are found.
And always a family favorite is Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, located in Lions Park. An oasis on the high plains, the botanic gardens feature nine acres of landscapes, gardens and plant collections. Children will enjoy exploring the solar-powered conservatory and visiting the oldest train engine in Wyoming, Ol' Sadie, which is located in the park. Open year-round, it's the perfect place for a picnic, too. The Botanic Gardens feature the new Paul Smith Children's Village.
Attractions Nearby Cheyenne
Although there is so much to do in Cheyenne, the city's location does make it the perfect jumping-off point for numerous day trips.
To the north is "Oregon Trail Country." Near Guernsey, which is 98 miles north, visitors can tour the Oregon Trail Ruts, perhaps the best visual remnant of the Oregon Trail remaining today. Nearby is Register Cliffs, where early travelers carved their names into the soft limestone. Fort Laramie National Historic Site is home to Fort Laramie, which was built in 1834 as a fur trading post and is located 80 miles north of Cheyenne.
To the east is the "Eastern Crossroads." In Pine Bluffs, which is 40 miles away, is the University of Wyoming High Plains Archaeological Museum, which contains evidence of the area's earliest inhabitants from the nearby dig site. A little further east is Chimney Rock National Historic Site, a famous landmark for weary travelers along the trails cutting through the region.
To the south is Denver just 90 miles away. While driving south, stop by and tour The Budweiser Brewery in Fort Collins, then travel on to various other attractions in the Mile High City. Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park includes 266,000 acres of stunning mountain scenery with valleys about 8,000 feet and peaks over 12,000 feet. The most popular activities in this scenic park are motoring, horseback riding, hiking and mountain climbing.
To the west is the "Wyoming West." Vedauwoo Recreation Area, about 25 miles west of Cheyenne, features ancient rock formations and is perfect for sightseeing, hiking or mountain biking. The Old West comes to life at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Park, which features a frontier prison that once held Butch Cassidy.
Snowy Range Ski Area, located about 80 miles west of Cheyenne, offers downhill and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The area is perfect for hiking and scenic drives in the summer. Snowy Range Road was the second road in the nation to receive the scenic byway designation. Or visit the quaint towns of Centennial and Saratoga and soak in the Saratoga Hot Springs.
Resorts, Ranches, RVs
With numerous resorts, conference centers, ranches, bed and breakfasts and more than 2,400 rooms available throughout the city, Cheyenne has every type of accommodation to fit every need.
A proud fixture in Cheyenne since 1911 is The Historic Plains Hotel. The hotel's elegant accommodations were enjoyed by Wyoming's earliest captains of industry, cattle barons and oil tycoons, as well as travelers on their way to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Recent renovations continue the tradition of serving guests with "Western High Style."
Cheyenne has three hotels with conference centers. Little America Hotel is an 80-acre oasis of luxury and service that features an Olympic-sized pool and a 9-hole golf course. The hotel recently underwent an extensive remodel and expansion. The entire main building was remodeled and Carol's Café, which features gourmet coffees and pastries, was added. A full 188 guest rooms were remodeled. In addition, the hotel's existing meeting space was remodeled and a 26,000-square-foot convention facility that includes a Grand Ballroom was added. The recently renovated Holiday Inn Cheyenne offers style and comfort with a distinctive Wyoming flavor, and 14,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate groups of 10 to 1,000.
As for bed and breakfasts, one of Cheyenne's most elegant residences is the Nagle Warren Mansion B&B. This Victorian B&B was built in 1888 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. English High Tea, a tradition that followed the landed gentry from England to the plains of Wyoming, is served Friday and Saturday. For travelers who want to be submersed in Indian culture, The Storyteller Pueblo features Native American art, pottery, beadwork and rugs representing more than 55 tribes. For a mountain-style retreat, the wildly scenic Windy Hills Wyoming Bed and Breakfast is nestled on lake frontage in the Laramie Mountains between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming.
If it's the ranch experience you're looking for, Terry Bison Ranch has cabins, bunkhouse rooms and a campground with 86 full hook-up RV sites. (The ranch consists of nearly 30,000 acres of rolling hills and lush grasslands and more than 2,300 grazing bison.) Speaking of RVs, Cheyenne offers plenty of options for camping. Curt Gowdy State Park, which is located 24 miles west of Cheyenne in the picturesque foothills of the Laramie Mountains, has reservable RV sites. Restway Travel Park features a swimming pool, mini golf, WiFi, cable TV, laundry facilities, game room, a mini store, souvenirs and much more. AB Campground, in addition to the standard amenities, provides a covered pavilion, outdoor grills, fenced dog run and playground.
For more information on Cheyenne, contact Visit Cheyenne, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, at (800) 426-5009 or visit its comprehensive Web site at http://www.cheyenne.org/. Photography is available on the Web site or at (214) 252-0900.# # #