I grew up 40 miles east of New York City, so the western United States amazes me. Last week, I joined my parents and my brother on an adventure through northeastern Colorado and southwestern Wyoming. We hit Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Cheyenne (along with their surroundings).
Fun Fact: Wyoming is the least populous state in the country. With a population of 64,019 (2016, Google), Cheyenne is its biggest city.
We only had one day in Cheyenne, but it was beautiful. If you get the chance to stop through, take it! Here’s how you can experience a taste of the West in Cheyenne, WY in just one day.
The Cheyenne Big Boots are just weird and unique enough to be awesome. There are eight of them scattered around downtown. Each one depicts a piece of Cheyenne history, and they were each painted by local artists. You’ll see them if you walk around downtown and/or take the Trolley Tour. They’re pretty much impossible to miss.
There is a historic side to Cheyenne that you can fall in love with even if you aren’t a history buff. I don’t know if western education systems are different, but I grew up learning way more about the founding states in the northeast and the Civil War than about the natives in the West, so I was extremely intrigued by the Native American history in Cheyenne. You’ll hear a lot about that, mixed with fun modern facts about the city if you take the downtown Street Railway Trolley.
I was satisfied because it gave us a great overview of the city in the short time that we had there. The tour was a few hours long and our guide went off on many tangents – it was very natural, it wasn’t one of those cheesy bus tours. You’ll see the capitol building (currently under construction), the old governor’s home and other famous old homes, original restaurants, and more. Either before or after the tour, you should definitely take the time to walk around and peer in the shops. You’ll be able to absorb a lot of the culture that way!
You’ll notice that while tourists are definitely expected (especially during Frontier Days, a popular fair that occurs every summer), it’s not a full-blown tourist town. It’s just the Capitol city of Wyoming, named for the Native American tribe they took over long ago.
Terry Bison Ranch
As the second largest bison ranch in the nation, Terry Bison Ranch is a masterpiece. It’s also a major tourist location, so if you’re expecting to drive by and ooh and ahh, think again. They’ll give you an immersive experience that while touristy, gives you a good idea of what life is like for ranchers in 2017 Wyoming.
I highly recommend the train ride. They typically run every hour-and-a-half, though you should call for times before you go. You’ll see a good portion of the ranch (even the part that technically crosses over the Colorado border) and lots of horses, chickens, ostriches, and even camels. Don’t ask me why they have camels – It’s probably because people like me say “yes, I absolutely want to give you money to look at camels on your buffalo ranch in Cheyenne, Wyoming.”
The train stops for a bit when it reaches a buffalo herd anxiously waiting for treats, at which point you can stand up and hang your bison feed that you paid an extra few dollars for over the railing. A rancher will herd the buffalo over towards the train, and before you know it the train will be surrounded by hungry, adorable beasts and their young. The babies were adorable but they couldn’t reach to get their fill, so I spent most of my time throwing food on the ground where the calves could reach instead of feeding the adults. If you feed the adults, by the way, you will get slobbered on. BUT IT’S SO COOL!
If all you have time for is the gift shop, it’s a cool thing to check out (especially if you’re not accustomed to Western culture). The ranch also has a full-service restaurant where they serve, you guessed it, Bison burgers. Personally, I was not able to eat a bison burger after feeding a baby bison, but if you can do it then lucky you.
Once you’ve seen a working bison ranch and a Western downtown, you’ve hit the highlights that will tell you a bit about Cheyenne. If you’re like me and more curious about what life is like there in 2017, you won’t have to drive too far to see it. Suburbs around Cheyenne are built like most other U.S. suburbs. There are some truly beautiful homes in cute, old neighborhoods.
Cheyenne is a great way to grab a taste of the West, but there’s so much more you can see! Like, for instance, Colorado Springs. Check back very soon for blogs following the rest of my Colorado/Wyoming trip.