Why You Should Visit Cheyenne, Wyoming Now

Long regarded for its 117 year old rodeo celebration, Cheyenne, Wyoming’s 62,000 residents are shaking things up lately with some new ambitions.  We recently took the quick trip to Denver, Colorado’s neighbor city for a tour of Cheyenne’s historic Downtown.  Here’s what we discovered about this hidden gem of the West.

downtown-cheyenne-wyoming

Downtown Cheyenne Wyoming – photo: C Watkins

Where is it?

Cheyenne sits at the junction of two major interstate highways; I-25 and I-80 in southern Wyoming, and is about 1.5 hours drive north of Denver, Colorado.  It is also conveniently located just to the east of several outdoor recreation destinations like Vedauwoo Recreation Area and the snow capped peaks of the Medicine Bow National Forest.

What’s New

Cheyenne recently earned some high tech street-cred when it won over the bid to house the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) supercomputing datacenter.  The cool dry climate and proximity to the one of the nation’s core internet backbones is putting the town on the hit-list for other datacenters too.  Microsoft has opened a datacenter in Cheyenne too – but not with just any standard tech, Wired Magazine just featured the facility in an article highlighting the place’s green-wise efficiency.  The new computing center is designed to run off of the methane generated at a nearby water treatment plant.  But wait, there’s more! Microsoft is using the datacenter to experiment with Fuel-Cell technology to power its massive servers.

Besides the growing tech jobs and tech investment that is sure to cement future economic growth, the City of Cheyenne partnered with NCAR to create an interactive visitor center that inspires the next generation of climate and earth scientists.

How’s the BEER?

With Colorado’s renowned beer culture located just miles away to the south, Cheyenne is experiencing it’s own #craftbeer mini-boom as well.  Stop by Freedom’s Edge Brewing Co’s for their Black Raspberry Lambic, their High Noon Chili Ale, or their signature 1890 IPA.  Also be sure to watch for Danielmark’s Brewery and Tap Room grand opening coming in April, 2016, or show up for the annual Wyoming Brewers Festival, benefiting the Historic Union Pacific Depot at the center of downtown.

Find a Good Meal:

Start your tour off with 2 Doors Down and their solid burger selection.  Then, step it up a notch at the Morris House Bistro, not too far away from central downtown.  The Morris house features seasonal menus combining the Cheyenne’s taste of the West influenced by the Southern cooking of South Carolina and the Georgia Coast.  Sit out on the secluded patio to soak in the cool summer evening’s, but get their early since it’s first come first serve seating.

Must-See & Must-Do’s

Head west to explore climbing, camping and biking in Vedauwoo.

Vedauwoo with fall colors

Vedauwoo dressed in some of fall’s colors

Pronounced vee-da-voo – spring is the best time to see Vedauwoo‘s crazy rock spires and climbing crags. Enjoy miles of ripping mountain bike singletrack as you weave through dense pine forests and aspen groves.  Vedauwoo is only 20 minutes from downtown, and whether camping by RV or tent, you’re sure to get a view of the intensely starry nights of the high plains.

There’s Even More Mountain Biking:

Ride through the pine crusted prairies and foothills of Curt Gowdy State Park – once home to the Comanche, Crow and Shoshone Native American Nations.  If you’re wondering just how good the trails are, in 2006 the Wyoming State Parks co-opted with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Arrowhead Trails, Inc., Singletrack Trails, Inc., the Wyoming Conservation Corp, and countless volunteers invested long hours in the construction of 25 miles of a stacked loop trail system.  Soon thereafter, IMBA crowned it as one of their EPIC Rides.  When you’re done, stop off in the Park’s lake for a cool dip.

curt gowdy trail map

Curt Gowdy State Park trail map

For the Skiers,Snowboarders and Snowmobilers:

Powder hounds can find hidden stashes at either Snowy Range Ski and Rec Area (the local’s favorite) or by taking a longer scenic drive to Colorado’s northernmost and legendary ski area, Steamboat.

And then there’s Cheyenne’s Frontier Days.  Here’s how to get the most out “The Daddy of them All”

Since 1897, the city has celebrated its Old West roots through the hoops and hollers of its Rodeo.  But this isn’t just any rodeo, it’s the world’s largest, drawing professionals who compete for millions in cash and prizes.  But, being the biggest can also mean being the busiest.  To get the most out of the experience, be sure to check out the “behind-the-chutes” tours, trick riding and the wild-horse race.  If you’ve got the time, round out your experience by hitting the Native American Village, chuck wagon cook-off and the free pancake breakfasts in downtown.

Find Your Next Cowboy Hat:

It would be hard to miss The Wrangler in downtown Cheyenne with its bright red and white facade.  It’s been around in some form or another since 1892 and is known the world over for its top-notch western wear.  The sky-lit hat room has a selection of nearly 500 styles ranging in price from $12.99 to a $1,200 diamond-studded Stetson.  As for me, I came looking for nostalgia and left with a new American made belt from Justin’s and a cool new silver buckle to join it up with.

Aaaand There’s Still More: The Terry Bison Ranch

You can’t come this far into the ‘Old West’ without diving into the cowboy experience for yourself, and the Terry Bison Ranch does it well.  The Terry Bison Ranch is the number two commercial producer of buffalo (second only to Ted Turner’s Montana Ranches) in America; and whether you take in the majesty of the western plains by their privately built railroad or by horseback, it’s a sight you have to behold.  While at the ranch you can try your hand at saddling ponies, rustling livestock or roping.  Of course, don’t leave without trying the buffalo burgers.