The world feels like it’s getting back to normal (finally), and the family’s antsy and hankering for some wide open spaces. Wyoming beckons. Look no further than the capital — Cheyenne — to serve as your gateway to family fun.
Sleepy cowtown? Hardly. Modern-day Cheyenne is a little urban, a little country, and the perfect jumping off spot for sampling all Wyoming has to offer. Best of all, you’ll do it together, and share a roundup of experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Discover why they call Cheyenne the Magic City of the Plains.
City slickers and the pioneer curious can enjoy a close up look at rural ranching life via Pine Ranch’s Homestead Experiences. Located in Carpenter, about a half hour’s drive east of Cheyenne, you’ll find owner Anne Larson ready to facilitate an unforgettable close encounter of the farm kind.
Start slow with an introductory experience (for example, pet the calves), dive a little deeper with a behind-the-scenes look (milk the goats), or go large with the extreme homestead experience (make fresh cheese). You decide how down and dirty you want to get, and choose the experience that’s right for you and yours. All three options are designed to give folks a taste of what life used to be — and still is — for some. One thing is certain: It’s an experience you and your family won’t soon forget.
At Terry Bison Ranch, the great American bison rules the roost — around 3,000 of them, to be exact — in addition to camels, ostriches, peacocks, goats and other furry and feathered friends. Some days you might even get a glimpse of migrating wild elk or pronghorn antelope.
Encompassing 43 square miles, the ranch is free to visit, although families often pony up for the ticketed Bison Train ride, which takes you past animals, shares some history of the storied place and makes a stop mid-herd for hand feeding the bison — all in under an hour. You can also saddle up for a trail ride, take an ATV tour or enjoy a free wagon ride. There’s also a trading post, RV Park, cabins for rent and spots to pop a tent. In addition, breakfast, lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at Tombstone Cafe or Senator's Steakhouse and Brass Buffalo Saloon, both on-site.
Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Join in the fun of this free online scavenger hunt and let Andy Lope and Lil’ Shy Anne — the city’s pair of pronghorn antelope ambassadors — guide your family through a number of sites in historic downtown Cheyenne that bring the past to life (and reveal some history even the locals don’t know). The kids will be having so much fun searching for answers to clues they won’t even realize how much local history they’re absorbing.
Do it in a day, a weekend or tap into just a few of the hunt’s intriguing challenges — you make the call. Once they’ve completed the complimentary scavenger hunt, they can claim their prize at the Visitor’s Center inside the Depot Building.
Pack some snacks and plenty of water and head west to Curt Gowdy State Park, where you’ll find outdoor adventure galore on 3,395 acres just waiting to be explored. Anglers will want to head to one of the three reservoirs to fish for various types of trout or kokanee salmon. There are water sports, too.
If you are a hiking or mountain biking family, a sure bet is the park’s Crow Creek Trail to Hidden Falls route. Rated moderate and under four miles, rolling hills and captivating scenery keep the kids engaged — and the trail also offers plenty of turnaround points for littler legs. Keep eyes peeled for wildlife and birds, but the big payoff is the falls, which require a wade into the creek to see. It’s a popular trail so hold your horses and plan a weekday hike if you’d like to encounter fewer animals of the two-legged kind.
Everyone knows that Wyoming and rodeo go hand in hand. Mark your calendars because on select Friday nights, late June through early September, the Hell on Wheels Rodeo takes place at the Archer Rodeo Arena. New to the scene, this rodeo incarnation features homegrown competitors and a delicious chuckwagon dinner, including slow-roasted brisket, garlic potatoes and warm cobbler to top it all off. With bellies full and the sun setting, head over to the arena and get ready to root for your favorite cowboys and cowgirls as they compete in bull riding, barrels, steer wrestling and more.
This is old-fashioned family fun, exciting enough to make the kids forget all about Minecraft for the night. Take a moment and look up at a star-studded sky that’ll take your breath away until the sounds from the stands bring you back down to Earth. And don’t worry if you can’t make the special chuckwagon dinner, food trucks will be on-site, with adult beverages available to the 21-and-up crowd.
You and the family have had a day of fun and now you’re downright parched. You stumble upon a microbrewery located inside a charming historic home near downtown. That’s no mirage, that’s Danielmark’s Brewing. With a famously friendly staff and a head brewer who’s dead serious about his craft, the brewery is one of a handful of craft beer establishments that’s putting Cheyenne on the beer map as Wyoming’s Craft Brew Country.
Adults can indulge in refreshing pints such as Bluesitra IPA or the Corson pilsner. Kids can refill their tanks with house-made root beer. Hungry? Order tacos from across the street or sample around-the-world street fare — from ramen to sliders to falafel — at a rotating cast of food trucks out front. Now that your energy’s back, head out back for some family-friendly yard games such as corn hole or giant Jenga. Traveling with the pup? Leashed dogs are also welcome. And did we mention the super tasty free popcorn?