As the center of the Wild West, Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a city steeped in history. Founded in 1867 and named after the American Indian Cheyenne nation, this “Magic City of the Plains” grew out of the construction and expansion of the Union Pacific Railroad. Once home to 600 construction workers, entrepreneurs and camp followers, today, the City of Cheyenne boasts a population of nearly 60,000 residents. In addition to being the capital of the State of Wyoming, Cheyenne is considered the rodeo and railroad capital of the nation. In fact, Cheyenne is home to the famous “Daddy of ‘em all,” Cheyenne Frontier Days, which is the largest outdoor rodeo in the nation and the source of great pride for the residents of Cheyenne. A visit to this frontier city provides visitors with the opportunity to turn back the clock to the days of the Wild West and experience a history that is still alive today and reflected in the city’s architecture, historic mansions and ranches, museums, art galleries and shops that display, showcase and sell Western items, as well as an impressive collection of steam engines and other items that reflect Cheyenne’s rich railroad history.
Visitors to this Western city have the opportunity to embrace the Wild West by visiting some of its must-see attractions. For example, the Cheyenne Depot and Depot Museum. The railroad station was completed in 1887 and is known as one of the most beautiful railroad stations in North America, as it is one of the last of the grand 19th-century depots remaining from the transcontinental railroad. Visitors today can visit the museum's exhibits, and its interactive displays showcase the history of the railroad. For a truly unique experience, visitors should visit the Terry Bison Ranch, where they can get up-close-and-personal with the great North American Bison. Featuring more than 2,000 bison, the Terry Bison Ranch offers a range of activities, including a private train that rides out into the middle of a bison herd. In addition, horseback riding, fishing, covered wagon rides and more, allow visitors of all ages to learn about Wyoming’s history and culture in a fun and hands-on way.
The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is another must-see attraction. Featuring xeriscape, rose, herb, cacti, wetland and woodland, the gardens offer a wide variety of landscapes and plant collections. It is also home to an inspirational Peace Garden, Discovery Pond, educational wetland area and historic Century Plazas, which includes the state’s oldest locomotive, Engine 1242. In addition, the gardens include a greenhouse/conservatory, which is one of the first large-sized 100-percent solar-heated greenhouses in the nation. In addition to solar heat, the sun powers 50 percent of the greenhouse’s electricity, too. What’s more, its year-round vegetable garden provides produce to low income citizens and senior volunteers. Children will enjoy a visit to the gardens for its Paul Smith Children's Village, which teaches children about concepts of sustainability, including sustainable systems for food production, food preparation, water quality and energy production, among others.
While there is fun to be had all year in Cheyenne, summer is arguably the most exciting time to visit the city. Cheyenne Frontier Days, taking place this year from July 21-30, is billed as the world's largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration. Started in 1897, the event draws top rodeo professionals who compete for more than $1 million in cash and prizes. Attendees of the rodeo can enjoy the many fun events taking place, such as the behind-the-chutes tours, trick riding and a wild-horse race. They can also partake in dancing, pancake breakfasts and a frontier-themed art show. A carnival, live entertainment, professional bull riding shows and four parades that include antique carriages and automobiles ensure that attendees have a wide variety of Western-themed events to enjoy.
On Wednesday, July 26, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform an airshow over the city. In fact, the Thunderbirds performed their first civilian airshow in Cheyenne at Cheyenne Frontier Days and have flown every year since, according to Mike Martin, public relations committee chairman for Cheyenne Frontier Days. “Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) is know all over the world as the world's largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration,” he says. “We celebrate our 121st annual CFD in 2017 and it’s the longest-running rodeo held with no interruptions, including World War I and World War II. Cheyenne only has a population of 60,000, yet more than 2,900 volunteers come together with 14 full-time staff members to roll out the red carpet to almost 300,000 guests each year. There are Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos, top names in entertainment headlining our nightly concert series, along with more than 30 hours of entertainment to fit in each day. We roll out our blue jean hospitality to guests from all over the world so they can get a chance to relive, in some ways, the heritage of the West.”
This year’s event is better than ever with a chuckwagon cook-off, a rodeo tech zone with motorized horses and steers that can be roped, and the return of a military tradition, as a canon will be fired each day to start the rodeo. It’s sure to be a good time for all—even if this isn’t your first time at the rodeo.