Looking to visit the southeast corner of Wyoming? Cheyenne and Laramie provide for a wonderful couple days of activities and exploration. Experience a bit of the Wild West in Cheyenne - Wyoming's Capitol and largest city in the state. Spend some time in Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming with a great historic downtown and an abundance of outdoor recreation activities. Love trains? Both Cheyenne and Laramie are cities that exist because of the railroad and have wonderful histories that are intertwined with the railroads.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BIG BOY STEAM ENGINE
Day 1: Cheyenne is a railroad town that owes it's existence to the Union Pacific Railroad. With the goal of building the first transcontinental railroad, it was decided that the easiest route thru the mountains was a pass between Cheyenne and Laramie. The pass was named Sherman Hill and was the highest point on the first transcontinental railroad. To learn a bit about the history of Cheyenne, start off the day by visiting the Big Boy Steam Engine. Of the 25 Big Boys that were built, only 8 remain and Number 4004 is located in Holliday Park in Cheyenne. As the world's largest steam engine, it was designed to handle the steep grades between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Ogden, Utah.
CHEYENNE DEPOT MUSEUM
To learn more about the history and influence of the railroad in Cheyenne - head to the Cheyenne Depot Museum. Located in the former Union Pacific Depot that was built in the 1880s, the Depot now houses the Cheyenne Visitor Center, restaurants and the Cheyenne Depot Museum. The museum itself tells of the story of Cheyenne and how the railroad helped to built this city. In addition, there a number of great hand's on exhibits that we were able to enjoy with our 1 1/2 year son - he loved visiting Cheyenne with all the train based activities!
CHEYENNE ' BIG BOOTS'
After finishing up at the museum, spend some time strolling thru downtown Cheyenne. One of the more popular things to do is find the 'Cheyenne Big Boots'. A number of eight foot tall cowboys boots are placed around town and each one has been painted by a different artist. Location maps are available at the Visitor Center inside the Depot if you want to track down all the boots!
Don't forget to stop in at The Wrangler for a great selection of Western wear. The Wrangler is located in a red painted brick building and a retail store of some sort has been on this site since 1892. From cowboy boots to hats, everything you could want in Western wear is located in this giant store.
HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDE
One of the best ways to enjoy this wonderful city is to take a free horse drawn carriage ride! The carriage driver will provide a historical narrative as you enjoy the sights around downtown Cheyenne. During the summer, these tours are offered daily 11am to 5pm and depart from the corner of the Depot Plaza across from The Wrangler.
TREE IN THE ROCK
Day 2: Explore Laramie & Surrounding Area: Spend the day by heading east of Cheyenne to visit the Laramie area. First stop of the morning is 'Tree in the Rock' in the middle of I-80. As there are not a lot of trees in southeast Wyoming, when the railroad saw this tree that seemed to be growing from the rocks, they actually built the railroad sideways around it! Even today, with the railroad being moved to the south, I-80 splits on each side of 'Tree in the Rock'.
VEDAUWOO RECREATION AREA
Our next stop of the morning was the Vedauwoo Recreation Area in the Bow Medicine National Forest. Located 27 miles west of Cheyenne, Vedauwoo is one of the best rock climbing areas in Wyoming. It also provides for some wonderful camping spots, hiking trails or just have fun scrambling over the rock formations! We had a blast playing around & climbing the rocks!
Continuing west, our next stop was at the Lincoln Monument, located at Exit 323 off I-80. Driving down the freeway, it's hard to miss the giant head of Abraham Lincoln. The head itself weighs over 2 tons and is 13.5 feet tall. Originally, the head was located at Sherman Point which was the highest on the old coast to coast Lincoln Highway, today it resides at the Summit Rest Area & Visitor Center along I-80.
WYOMING TERRITORIAL PRISON STATE HISTORIC SITE
For a bit of history, we headed next to the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. Built in 1872, this is one of the oldest buildings in Wyoming and operated as a prison from 1872 to 1901. It was then transferred to the University of Wyoming who used the building until 1989 before it was revamped and opened as a State Historic Site. The time used as a prison was a bit rough as the site was known for it's jailbreaks - of the 44 prisoners here during the first 2 years, 11 prisoners escaped. Butch Cassidy was also one of the prisoners here from 1894 to 1896. We definitely enjoyed exploring this old prison and reading thru the exhibits, it was well worth the small price of admission.
We then headed into downtown Laramie to explore the historic downtown. Laramie is also a railroad town that was born with the expansion of the railroad thru Wyoming. Today the town is home to the University of Wyoming and is a wonderful college town full of great restaurants and shops. Take a stroll downtown, as Laramie has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Make sure and check out the Pacific Railroad Pedestrian Footbridge - the original bridge was built in 1930 to stop street-level pedestrian crossings, after being destroyed in 1917 by a fire, it was rebuilt a few blocks south and today spans the busy railroad lines below.
UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING
As we happened to be in town during September we were able to catch a football at the University of Wyoming as they were playing the Washington State Cougars. Both myself and husband are alumni of Washington State University and so taking in a football game was a definite highlight to visiting the area! We spent time touring the campus and tailgating with Wyoming Cowpokes and had a great time! The fans here were super welcoming and we thoroughly enjoyed our time here! Go Cougs!
Interested in planning your own trip to Cheyenne & Laramie, Wyoming? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!
Day 1: Cheyenne - Big Boy Steam Engine in Holliday Park, Cheyenne Depot Museum, Cheyenne Depot Plaza, Explore downtown Shops (The Wrangler), Find the Cheyenne ' Big Boots', Horse Drawn Carriage Rides (11am-5pm from Depot Plaza)
Day 2: Tree in the Rock along I-80, Vedauwoo Recreation Area (Exit 329), Lincoln Monument (Exit 323), Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, Stroll downtown Laramie & University of Wyoming