cheyenne depot with boot
Destinations,  Mountains US,  RV Travel,  Wyoming

Best Things to do in Cheyenne: Bison, Beers and Boots

Originally posted November 2020; Revised and migrated May 2021
Travel date August 2020

Cheyenne Wyoming has a strong cowboy history and modern-day residents and businesses embrace it. They even have oversized cowboy boot sculptures scattered around town as a reminder. A quick stroll through downtown offers historic buildings including a gorgeous railway depot, cowboy boots for every taste, and world-class food and beer. Here are a few of the top attractions, best activities, places to visit, and fun things to do in Cheyenne.

Is Cheyenne worth visiting?

Cheyenne is definitely worth visiting. History buffs will love the architecture and abundance of museums. Animal lovers will enjoy the nearby Terry Bison Ranch. Train aficionados won’t want to miss the beautiful Cheyenne Depot Museum located inside the historic downtown depot. The city’s parks and festivals offer great recreation opportunities for everyone.

cheyenne mural

What is Cheyenne known for?

Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming but has a small-town charm. The history of the Wild West is strong in Cheyenne. Even now, the city is best known for the Cheyenne Frontier Days festival held every July. It is the largest rodeo in America.

What is there to do in Cheyenne?

  • Visit a Park or two
    • Lions Park for the lake and Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
    • Holliday Park (Big Boy locomotive)
  • Stroll Downtown Cheyenne for a little history and a lot of boots, beer and burgers
    • Wrangler Store
    • Cowgirls of the West Museum and Emporium
    • Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley
    • Cheyenne Depot Museum
  • Wyoming State Capital
  • Terry Bison Ranch to hand feed bison
  • Wyoming State Museum
  • NCAR Wyoming Supercomputing Center
  • Cheyenne Frontier Days Museum or Frontier Days if visiting in late July
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Take a scenic drive on Happy Jack Road between Laramie & Cheyenne
  • Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center (check out this blog to read more about the RV amenities offered)
train in cheyenne wyoming

Lions Park

We were able to swim laps at the local aquatics center in Lions Park twice. We noticed several RVers spent their days at Lions Park. The park itself is quite large with great walking paths, plenty of grass for a picnic, and a lake. The lake at Lions Park had a swimming beach and people paddleboarding but unfortunately, we didn’t make time to go back with our boat.

Additionally, the park contains The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Sadly, they were not open to the public but several areas were accessible without admission. Don’t let a closure deter you from visiting, there are still plenty of things to see around the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens after hours. There were several well-landscaped educational displays about locomotives, Wyoming history and nature. Plus it’s a great opportunity to stroll around the park.

Big Boy Locomotive in Holliday Park

Cheyenne has a long history aligned to railways. You can see several trains around town but if you have any interest in trains, Big Boy is the one thing to not miss in Cheyenne. Big Boy is one of eight remaining Big Boys throughout the country. It is the world’s largest steam locomotive. The coal-fired engine pulled a 3,600-ton train across the mountains between Ogden Utah and Cheyenne Wyoming.

Wyoming State Capitol

While in Cheyenne, we also visited the Wyoming state capitol building. Fun fact – the gold leaf covering the massive dome only required a few ounces of gold. One Imperial ounce covers 100 sq ft of the surface in a very thin layer. There were some interesting exhibits about the building restoration process and several walk-in safes in the basement which were used by the Pony Express to store valuable cargo.

wyoming state capitol building in cheyenne

Downtown Cheyenne

Our short walk around downtown Cheyenne included a stop at the famous “Wrangler” store which is now owned by Boot Barn. This place was impressive primarily due to sticker shock. Before visiting, I had no idea cowboy boots and hats were so expensive. I enjoy nice shoes but can’t imagine ever paying $500 for a pair of boots.

The architecture was impressive in downtown Cheyenne. There were educational signs on several street corners sharing the history of specific buildings.

Downtown Cheyenne’s beautiful architecture harkens to a wealthier time. The city is very nice and not impoverished at all. However, when electric lights were installed in 1882, Cheyenne had the highest per capita wealth of any city in the world. Eight of the 3,000 residents were millionaires. Today Cheyenne’s downtown is a great place to grab a craft beer and a delicious meal, learn some Wild West history or find an epic pair of cowboy boots.

cowboy boots at the wrangler in cheyenne wyoming

Craft Beer in Cheyenne: Daddy of the Hops

The Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce marketing department knew the way to our hearts. For summer they introduced the Daddy of the Hops programs. The program had a few participating breweries and distilleries which offered BOGO drinks and the opportunity to claim a steel pint glass if you visited all participating businesses. We visited the participating breweries but skipped the distilleries. Even though we drank our share of local craft beer, we left Cheyenne without earning the promotional pint glass.

More cities and states need to learn from Wyoming’s promotional programs. We love the Wyoming collector stickers and Cheyenne’s Daddy of the Hops. Both programs drove us to locations we would have otherwise skipped.

Eating out in Downtown Cheyenne

Based on a local recommendation for the Diablo burger we visited 2 Doors Down. The Diablo burger included pickled jalapenos, battered and fried jalapeno “bottlecaps”, pepper jack cheese, avocado, chipotle mayo, and cream cheese. I plan to attempt a recreation at home with Kevin’s famous burger recipe.

Terry Bison Ranch

On our final day in Wyoming, we visited a popular tourist attraction. I was torn if the $15 admission was worth the price to the Terry Bison Ranch. It is super touristy and not usually the type of experience we seek.

The resort/ranch has a private bison herd that you can hand feed. I was really keen to feed a bison so we paid $15 each and boarded their homemade open-air train. Kevin and I were the only people in our train car which could hold at least 20 people so we felt very safe participating during COVID.

Just like most touristy rides, the train conductor told lots of cute stories and corny jokes. The Ranch property includes both Colorado and Wyoming so we crossed the Colorado state line for the first time in a train.

The bison were well conditioned to the routine. Several approached the train as soon as we arrived. They immediately started opening their mouths for food. It was hilarious. Every few rows of train seats had a five-gallon bucket of pressed nugget feed. This bucket was their method for daily portion control and doesn’t get refilled if emptied.

The bison were quite gentle as we leaned down from the elevated train cars with food. However, I still would not want to come eye to eye without a protective barrier between us.

Is Terry Bison Ranch worth it?

I enjoy animals and struggle with the animal tourism industry. Based on my experience, the animals have a pretty good life at the Terry Bison Ranch. In conclusion, I would say the $15 admission is worth the chance to hand-feed bison and visit all of the other ranch residents including horses, llamas, camels, goats, turkey and more.

Other Things to do in Cheyenne

We didn’t visit other attractions in Cheyenne but here is a short list of the other top things to do.

  • Wyoming State Museum
  • NCAR Wyoming Supercomputing Center
  • Cheyenne Frontier Days Museum or Frontier Days if visiting in late July
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Take a scenic drive on Happy Jack Road between Laramie & Cheyenne

Summary Cheyenne

With only 3 days in Cheyenne, we only hit the highlights. Our overall impression is the capital city has a lot to offer. There is a great thing to do for everyone in the family ranging from history to outdoor fun.

mom and baby bison at Terry Bison ranch in cheyenne wyoming

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