Destination: Cheyenne

Contrary to what you may have heard, read or been texted, cowboy hats are not required for touchdown at CYS (Cheyenne Regional Airport), nor to enter the Cheyenne city limits proper. They are strongly advised however, along with a sturdy pair of Tony Lamas and a Yeti cooler filled with the B word.

As state capitols go, Cheyenne is one of the nation’s least accessible, tucked into the southeast corner of Wyoming in the arid I-80 flatness that serves as the preview to endless miles of the same awaiting eastbound travelers next door in Nebraska. If it weren’t for Crow Creek, which caused the Union Pacific Railroad to pause long enough to build a bridge over it, Cheyenne might have remained little more than a cattle rancher’s best bet on a Saturday night.

Fortunately, while gentrification seems to be changing the flavor of similar-sized western hubs, unassuming Cheyenne remains proud of its bronc-riding, steer-wrestling, creek-camping heritage and lifestyle. In a Starbucks world, this is still a Folgers town.

Ready to ride? Here are 10 Cheyenne attractions sure to earn a tip of your (cowboy) hat.

Just Dandy: Ready to acquire some cowboy couture? This jaunty downtown women’s boutique offers a full line of Western-inspired apparel and accessories. Their tag line says it all: “Out West & outstanding.”

Frontier Days: This year, the “Daddy of ‘em All” world’s largest outdoor rodeo and 10-day Western blowout features a PRCA rodeo with bull riding, barrel racing and team roping, parades, pancake breakfasts, gi-normous carnival midway, Western art show and sale, and concerts by Kenny Chesney, Fall Out Boy, Florida-Georgia Line and KISS. If you can’t visit July 22-31, you can get a taste of the fun at the…

Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum & Store: Filled with Western artifacts, including an extensive carriage collection, this local landmark chronicles Frontier Days from its inception in 1897, as well as the colorful role Cheyenne played in the expansion of the American West.

Cheyenne Depot and Museum: Built in 1886-7, the fully-restored Union Pacific Depot stands as one of the last grand 19th century railroad stations in North America.

Bit-O-Wyo Trail Rides: Experience high ridge and valley views on horseback at this popular ranch resort west of town on Happy Jack Road. One- to three-hour rides run $40 per person, summers only. After an afternoon riding the scenic trail, mosey down Happy Jack and recharge at…

Bunkhouse Bar & Grill: Never been to an authentic Wyoming roadhouse? Here’s your chance. Cold beer, live honky-tonk music and some of the best steaks in the country. That hitching post out front ain’t just for decoration, pard.

Curt Gowdy State Park: Pick your favorite outdoor pastime and chances are this scenic wonderland, named after the Wyoming-born sports broadcaster, can punch your ticket. Bikers and hikers enjoy 35 miles of scenic trails, climbers cling to its world-class bouldering, and winter sports enthusiasts have their pick of snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, sledding – and even ice canoeing, which frankly sounds like one tough paddle!

Terry Bison Ranch Resort: Kids squeal with delight when they encounter their first North American bison, alive and well at this throwback, family-oriented rustic resort south of Cheyenne on the Colorado border. Those same bison turn up in the form of sirloin steak, short ribs and meatloaf on the Senator’s Steakhouse menu, for those whose bucket list includes a bite of bison.

Cowgirls of the West Museum & Emporium: Sorry, cowboy; this here museum honors the history and legends of pioneering Western women. To gain a new appreciation for who really won the West, take a look behind the apron at this wonderful collection of cowgirl history. Open May to September. Speaking of bold Western women…

Cheyenne Capidolls: Redneck Breaker, Smitty Bang, Momster Smash and Scruella DeVille are just a few of the tough-as-nails competitors on Cheyenne’s bump-and-tussle roller derby team. Catch a “bout” if you can at Roller City.

Photo credits:



Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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