Cheyenne, Wyoming


By Erin Gifford

There's no question that Cheyenne goes above and beyond to bring its fascinating Western heritage to life. Authentic experiences await, from rodeos and gunslingers to horseback rides and mighty bison that call this Western town home.

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See your first rodeo

There are rodeos and then there's the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. It's not only the world's largest outdoor rodeo, but it has quite rightly earned a reputation as the “Daddy of 'Em All,” attracting the biggest names in rodeo for a chance at more than $1 million in cash and prizes.

Thrilling rodeo events like barrel racing, team roping and saddle bronc riding bring locals and visitors alike to their feet across nine days of the Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration. When not cheering on the rodeo contestants, visitors enjoy the parades, chuckwagon cook-offs, pancakes (lots and lots of pancakes), carnival rides and nightly toe-tapping to Country music’s biggest stars.

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Travel back in time

At the Cheyenne Depot Museum, explore the storied history of the Union Pacific Railroad, which reached Cheyenne in 1867 and opened the West to mechanized travel. Located inside the historic train depot, the museum details Cheyenne's rapid growth and prosperity as a railroad town through memorabilia displays and hands-on exhibits, like a locomotive bell. There's even a model train that takes up the entire second floor.

Outside, take in the elegance of the depot, then snap a photo of the eight-foot-tall "big boots" on display that have been meticulously painted by local artists.

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Feed the Animals

Only at Terry Bison Ranch can visitors hand feed the legendary colossal bison from an open-air train. During this one-hour narrated tour, spot plenty of bison on the grounds of the second-largest bison ranch in the United States.

The bison train may be the most popular activity at Terry Bison Ranch, but there's plenty more cowboy-style fun. Take a guided horseback ride or pop into Senator's Steakhouse for lunch. It's one of the best places to order a lean and delicious bison burger.

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Dress the Part

One of the first things visitors absolutely must do when they arrive in historic downtown Cheyenne is make a beeline for The Wrangler. Load up on authentic Western wear like boots, buckles and cowboy hats, even cowboy cologne. The Wrangler has been outfitting cowboys and cowgirls for more than 75 years, so it's safe to say they know how to style men, women and kids of every size and shape. The staff will help you gear up for Western-style events from rodeos to trail rides, always with a broad smile. Bring an extra suitcase.

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Enjoy the Show

For an epic Wild West experience complete with good guys, bad guys, and gunfights, Gunslinger Square in historic downtown Cheyenne is the place to go. Here, Western shows by the Cheyenne Gunslingers entertain awe-struck crowds every June and July. The free outdoor show is a real hit with kids thanks to corny jokes and plenty of shoot-em-up action.

After the show, pose for photos with the gunslingers and tour the stage set up right in Cheyenne Depot Plaza. The show takes place on weekday evenings at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon.

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Wet Your Whistle

Can visitors really go to Cheyenne and not spend a few hours in a bona fide honky tonk? Nope. Pull on cowboy boots and mosey on over to the Outlaw Saloon for live music nearly every night of the week and all the Country line dancing that entails. An indoor stage and a massive outdoor stage guarantees boot-scootin' all night long. Darts and pool tables keep the fun going even after your feet have given out.

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Sing Along

On Saturdays in July and August, Bit-O-Wyo Ranch is the place to go. Join them for a family friendly Wyoming cowboy campfire and listen to unique cowboy poetry, storytelling, and, of course, sing along to old-time cowboy songs accompanied by harmonica and guitar. They’ll offer fixin’s for s’mores, too. Campfires are available July and August by reservation. Stay the night in one of the cabins on the property, then plan to canoe, fish and hike the next day.

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Tip Your Hat to an Icon

Only a few blocks from Cheyenne's historic district is the Wyoming State Capitol Building. Since 2015, a top-to-bottom restoration has been in progress, including the addition of new legislative meeting spaces. The esteemed building re-opens this summer, so keep checking back for the re-opening date. Visitors can admire the intricate architectural details and go deep into the history of this National Historic Landmark.

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Go Retro

The popular Wyoming State Museum features permanent galleries that highlight the state's national parks, native wildlife, the role of natural resources in the state's economy and the proliferation of dinosaur fossils across the state. The museum also features local artwork and photographs on a rotating basis. Family programs engage children with scavenger hunts and activity guides. A hands-on habitat educates on the natural landscapes of Wyoming.

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Come Get Some Shut-Eye

While in Cheyenne, a stay at the historic (and possibly haunted) Nagle Warren Mansion B&B, a must to maximize the cowboy experience. In its day, the elegant mansion was considered one of the most grandiose private homes in the West.

Today, overnight guests can expect "luxury, cattle baron style." That's according to new owners who in 1997 transformed the stately mansion into a bed & breakfast. The Nagle Warren Mansion boasts historically re-created living spaces like the dining room and parlor, as well as modern conveniences like a fitness center and hot tub in the garden.

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Make plans to cowboy up in Cheyenne.