Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Head Out West in Wyoming

Wyoming — the state’s very name conjures images of the Wild West: wood-plank sidewalks and false-front buildings, saloon brawls and shoot-outs, galloping horse herds and puffing steam locomotives.

Much of that Old West heritage can still be found at historic military forts and trading posts, bison ranches and wild-horse sanctuaries, restored train depots and long-running rodeos. Cheyenne preserves much of its American West history and offers modern attractions, Laramie delivers a college-town vibe, and Casper provides big-city amenities.

Laramie, the College Town

Laramie is home to the University of Wyoming, and the college gives the city of 32,000 a youthful energy and a diverse population, said Mike Gray, assistant director of the Laramie Area Visitors Center.

The walkable campus, dotted with bronze sculptures and sandstone buildings, is home to three of the city’s 13 museums. The University of Wyoming Art Museum, which is free and offers group tours with advance notice, shows about 15 exhibits every year. The Geological Museum, also free, displays fossils and several full dinosaur skeletons, and guests can watch scientists prepare fossils in the museum’s prep lab. In the Anthropology Museum, exhibits focus on ancient people, and the American Heritage Center, although not a museum per se, houses the university’s archives, manuscripts, rare books and other collections, including the Cisco Kid’s saddle and original “Spiderman” and “Fantastic Four” drawings that Stan Lee donated to the school.

Downtown delivers much of the Western heritage visitors want, along with more-modern watering holes. Guests can explore several antique stores or grab a drink at Buckhorn Bar and Parlor, a locals dive that bears bullet holes in its original wood-back bar. Downtown is also home to three craft breweries and a vodka distillery.

The Laramie Plains Museum, housed in the 1893 Ivinson Mansion, offers guided tours of the home of one of Laramie’s founding families. Groups can visit the Wyoming House for Historic Women, also in downtown, to learn about Louisa Swain, the first woman to vote in a general election in the United States under the state’s 1869 law giving women the right to vote. From downtown, visitors can cross the Garfield Street footbridge over the railroad tracks and walk or drive to the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historical Site about 10 blocks away. Guided tours showcase the prison where Butch Cassidy served an 18-month sentence starting in 1894.

At an elevation of 7,200 feet, nestled between two mountain ranges, Laramie is a natural fit for people to experience nature. Groups can go horseback riding, opt for guided fly-fishing trips or take guided mountain biking excursions. Visitors can try rock climbing with an experienced outfitter in the Vedauwoo area or take a hike in Medicine Bow National Forest, and small groups can go on ATV or snowmobile tours at Albany Lodge.

One of the most wild outdoor options is a prearranged visit to Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse Ecosanctuary, said Fred Ockers, executive director of the Laramie Area Visitors Center. The 4,700-acre, privately owned sanctuary has been certified by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to care for wild horses. Groups ride into pastures on a flatbed trailer piled with hay bales, which attract some of the 300 wild mustangs to the trailer.

“It’s one of the most Western things you can do around here,” Ockers said.

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter worked as a newspaper reporter for eight years and spent two years as an online news editor before launching her freelance career. She now writes for national meetings magazines and travel trade publications.