With its outdoor opportunities and Western experiences, the Wyoming capital makes for a naturally socially distant adventure or crowdless escape.
Home to cowboys, rodeos, railroads, and majestic plains, Wyoming’s capital city embodies the spirit of the Old West. Considered the nation’s rodeo and railroad capital, it’s also home to museums, historic hotels and mansions, a collection of steam engines, Western-themed attractions and shopping, resorts and ranches, dining, and a thriving art community with soft adventure nearby. We checked in with Visit Cheyenne for the best and the latest.
Located 90 minutes from Denver International Airport, Cheyenne offers abundant opportunities for casual nature lovers and avid outdoor enthusiasts.
EPIC Bike Trails at Curt Gowdy State Park
Curt Gowdy State Park, named an “Epic” trail system by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, features more than 35 miles of well-marked scenic trails for mountain bikers and hikers of all ages. The park features everything from fast, flowy single-track routes and play areas to rugged rock-garden climbs and artificial free-ride features. Visitors can also enjoy other adventure activities such as archery, boating, fishing, and more.
World-Class Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo
This extraordinary area, located just outside of Cheyenne, features vast otherworldly rock formations of 1.4 billion-year-old granite. Climbing comes in all forms: bouldering, belaying, scrambling, and rappelling. This is world-class mountaineering featuring dozens of climbing routes with varying levels of difficulty.
Endless Trails at Pole Mountain
The Pole Mountain section of Medicine Bow National Forest, which was once used for military training by the War Department, offers endless outdoor recreation opportunities. The Tie City and Happy Jack Trailheads provide the most popular starting points for dozens of diverse trails for hikers and bikers of every level of experience. Numerous streams and beaver ponds provide visitors with easy access to fishing for brook trout, while giant billion-year-old granite boulders provide entertainment for climbers and hikers.
Cheyenne might be a lesser-known winter destination, but come snowfall, winter fun truly takes off. With an average yearly snowfall of 102 inches at local areas prime for snowy activities, visitors can enjoy crowdless winter experiences including:
- ATV: Get out and explore the snowy countryside on an ATV at Terry Bison Ranch.
- Ice Boating: On wintry days, ice boat on North Crow Reservoir of Curt Gowdy State Park.
- Ice Fishing: Ice fishing is an extremely popular winter sport on all of the reservoirs in Curt Gowdy State Park. Granite and Crystal are often the first to ice up and have nice size perch if the trout aren’t biting. Upper North Crow has rainbow and brown trout, splake, and grayling.
- Tubing, Sledding, Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing: In the wintertime, hiking trails become a wonderland for tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Head to Pole Mountain for 10-plus miles of groomed skating and classic ski track.
New Attractions and Experiences
The Legendary Pass
The new Legendary Pass unlocks Cheyenne at a discount, offering off-season attractions for $34. Explore the town’s history and adventure with adult admission to the Depot Museum, CFD Old West Museum, Curt Gowdy State Park, and the Terry Bison Ranch Trail. The off-season pass is available through May 14, and the full pass (including three more attractions) will be available for sale starting May 15, 2021.
The Lincoln Cheyenne
Before it was a bargain movie theater, the Lincoln was once a hub of nightlife, art, vibrancy, and connections among the people in the community. Today, the newly opened music venue is the epicenter of the growing live music scene in Cheyenne. Visitors can also book the newly renovated Lincoln Loft, located behind the marquee of the historic Lincoln Theatre. The Lincoln is currently operating at reduced capacity offering one of the few live music venues along the front range of the Rocky Mountains.
Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley
Board the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley to learn and explore Cheyenne and the Wild West. Travel through the haunted highways and paranormal passages of Cheyenne aboard the Ghost Fright-Seeing Tours (October 2020), featuring Dan Jaspersen Magician and Mentalist, Dillinger’s Bar, and PHOG. Get in the holiday spirit and view the spectacular light displays through the city while aboard the Holiday Light Tours (December 11—24, 2020).
The Chinook Drive-in at Terry Bison Ranch
The dedicated concerts and drive-in movies at Cheyenne’s newly launched Chinook Drive-in are much more than your average drive-in movie experience. Prior to each movie showing, live music from local artists is performed, starting at 7 p.m. and continuing until the sun goes down prior to the start of films.
Vertical Art Garden Project
Cheyenne Makers + Creatives have launched a community art project where locals and visitors can decorate their old, empty paint cans to be assembled into a “vertical art garden.” The project is being constructed in the empty lot adjacent to the West Edge Collective building off West Lincolnway.
In Cheyenne, larger-than-life murals can be found scattered around the city’s center. Each summer the Paint Slingers Festival (July) populates more walls, ensuring there are nearly always new murals and downtown artworks to discover. Must see murals include:
- The Iconic Buffalo Mural: Painted by Cheyenne artist Jordan Dean, this powerful work can be found in the parking lot behind the Paramount Cafe on Capital Avenue in downtown Cheyenne. Dean’s goal is to establish Cheyenne for its presence progressive art, with plans to paint two to three murals a year.
- 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment: As 2020 marks the 100th anniversary, visitors can view wall art honoring Wyoming women’s suffrage in downtown Cheyenne. Wyoming was actually ahead of the curve when the state guaranteed women the right to vote and hold public office in 1869, a full 51 years before the 19th Amendment. The mural dedicated to Wyoming’s 150th anniversary was created in 2019.
Recent Developments and Renovations
Wyoming State Capitol Building
After a $300 milion renovation taking three and a half years, the Wyoming Capitol Building reopened in summer 2019. The renovation added 28,000 square feet to an underground corridor linking the Capitol and Herschler Building, which gained 56,000 square feet and got a classical makeover, adding meeting rooms, an auditorium, and visitors center. The elaborately painted halls, rooms, and chambers were restored to more closely resemble the building’s appearance over a century ago.
Quebec 01 Missile Alert Facility Opens to the Public
Quebec 01 opened to the public as the only accessible Peacekeeper Missile Alert Facility left in the world and strives to preserve Cold War history. Visitors have the opportunity to see a military installation that was “hidden in plain sight” and delve into the daily lives of missileers, topside personnel, missile technology, and more.
Upcoming Events and Experiences
- Old West Holidays (November 21—December 31): Cheyenne comes alive as an Old West holiday experience. Actors dressed in period costumes, decorated store fronts, opportunities to see Santa, and more will deliver the holiday spirit in a physically distanced manner. Festivities kick off with a downtown lighting festival and continue through the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and fireworks.
- Cheyenne Christmas Parade (November 28, 2020): Downtown on Capitol and Carey avenues, the parade features more than 100 brightly illuminated floats, horse-drawn wagons, bands, antique autos, dancers, performers, and colorful marching groups.
- Tinsel Through Time (Nov. 20—Dec. 24, 2020): Get in the holiday spirit at the historic Governors’ Mansion. Decorated top to bottom, the mansion is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with decorations and era-themed trees and rooms.
- Paul Smith Children’s Village (December 1—23, 2020): Visit the rare collection of Santa Clauses from the 20th century and all over the world at 1,000 Faces of Santa. Keep an eye out for elves off their shelves! Recurring weekly at the Botanic Gardens.
- Holiday Artisan Market (December 3—23, 2020): Recurring weekly on various days, shop fine art gifts for the holidays from 20 artists, booths, and tables.
- “Holiday Magic” with the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra (December 12, 2020): Get in the holiday spirit with performances from the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. “Holiday Magic” will be performed at the Civic Center or available for livestream viewing.
- New Year’s Eve Ball Drop (December 31, 2020): Ring in the New Year in Depot Plaza with a 75-foot ball drop, with celebration of music and fireworks.
- Hell on Wheels Rodeo Series (June, July, and August 2021): The second year of the Hell on Wheels Chuck Wagon Dinner and Rodeo Series sees the event expand to 10 full performances on Friday nights in the summertime. Attendees have the opportunity to see up-and-coming athletes perform in rough stock, roping, and barrel-racing events. 2021 will crown its first ever series champion; the final performance will include a concert post rodeo.
- The 125th Daddy of Em All (July 23—August 1, 2021): Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, looks forward to returning for its 125th anniversary in 2021. With interactive experiences, concerts, night events, and professional bull riding, there’s something for everyone.
Need some inspiration for planning a future visit to Cheyenne? Explore from a new perspective with virtual tours and at-home experiences.
- Wyoming Historic Governors’ Mansion: Step back in time with a 360-degree-plus-audio tour of the 1900s old governors’ residence.
- Cheyenne Botanic Gardens: Tour the gardens from your couch with several areas both inside and outdoors to explore.
- Cheyenne Depot Museum: Explore the importance of trains in Cheyenne through several 360-degree tours.
- Wyoming State Capitol Building: Enjoy several versions of the 360-degree tours, including before-and-after images of the recent renovations.
Photography: Images courtesy Matthew Idler, Yann Ropars, West Edge Collective