The site of many a cinematic battle between plucky cowboys and sinister ranching magnates, Wyoming's laid-back capital had turbulent origins, but it's well and truly mellowed out these days.
That is, until the Frontier Days festival rolls into town in July. When the fair hits Cheyenne, and the city hosts the world's largest rodeo show, there's hardly a busier spot west of Chicago.
During the rest of the year, Cheyenne is waiting to be explored. Possessing some great museums and galleries, multiple shopping opportunities, and plenty of Wild West history, it's also a great base to use when heading to Medicine Bow National Forest or the trails of northeast Colorado.
For most of the year, Cheyenne keeps things easygoing in southeastern Wyoming, but everything changes in July, when the Frontier Days festival swings into the city. The world's largest outdoor rodeo event is paradise for lovers of all things western, with plenty of rodeo contests, carnival attractions, music concerts, parades, cookoffs, and aerial shows.
Cheyenne was founded as a cattle town, with a population of tough railroad men, miners, and ranch hands - ruled by a class of brutal ranchers. This led to conflict in the late 19th century as small ranchers did battle for land. These days, everything has calmed down, but you can learn about the town's history at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, the Wyoming State Museum, and the Nelson Museum of the West.
Local and visiting artists are constantly on show at the city's many independent galleries, with places like Artful Hand Studio and Gallery, Manitou Galleries, and Deselms Fine Art showing off some of America's best landscape painters.
Visitors to Cheyenne can get a feel for life on the range by heading to the nearby Terry Bison Ranch. More a western-themed amusement park than a working ranch, you can take train rides through the herds, saddle up and ride the range, take pony rides, or fish all day long. Kids will also fall for the community of ostriches, llamas, emus, and camels.
Downtown Cheyenne is the ideal place to shop for western-themed mementos. Boot Barn stocks all of the denim workwear, leather boots, and hats a cowboy could need, while stores like the Wrangler, Sierra Trading Post, and Murdoch's all stock fine shirts, jeans, and souvenirs.
If you are looking for the excitement of the rodeo, visiting Cheyenne during the Frontier Days in July is a must. However, you won't be the only thrill seeker arriving in town, so book ahead. Otherwise, fall is a fine time to head out hiking and see the city's sights. Spring can be a little unpredictable, but may well offer cheaper room rates, so have a look around.
Cheyenne Regional Airport (CYS) has a regular connection to Denver, so may be the handiest way to arrive in Cheyenne. From there, you can either rent a car from companies like Hertz, Avis, or National, or take a taxi into town. It's only around two miles to downtown Cheyenne, and the fare shouldn't be more than $15. Alternatively, you can fly to Denver International, then take a shuttle, rent a car, or take a taxi to Cheyenne.
Driving to Cheyenne from Denver couldn't be simpler. Just take I-25 northbound. If you are driving from the east, take I-80, which cuts through the city, and also provides easy access from northern California, Utah, and Nevada.
Cheyenne has an out-of-town Greyhound stop located at the Rodeway Inn (5401 Walker Rd), which provides another connection to Denver, and by extension the whole of the nationwide Greyhound network. The Rodeway Inn is a couple of miles north of the center, so a taxi ride will be needed to reach central hotels.
Cheyenne has an excellent range of city center luxury hotels and motels on its outskirts, so finding lodgings that suit your needs won't be hard. Some central highlights include the Nagle Warren Mansion, which is housed in a 19th-century property, and the Historic Plains Hotel. The Rodeway Inn is a handy option if you are heading to Frontier Days, while the Fairfield Inn and Suites is conveniently located for the airport, and right next to one of the best shopping malls in town.
Downtown Cheyenne - Downtown Cheyenne is incredibly atmospheric, having retained many 19th-century buildings, most notably the majestic Cheyenne Depot Museum, the Wyoming Governor's Mansion, and the Nagle Warren Mansion. But it's also a buzzing cultural and shopping neighborhood, with streets like Lincolnway and 17th Street full of stores, galleries, and restaurants.
Laramie - although it's a separate town, Laramie is a few miles west of Cheyenne and well worth visiting. A student town with excellent nightlife, the historic city hosts the lively Laramie Jubilee Days festival in July, which makes a great complement to Frontier Days in Cheyenne. It also has some unmissable historical attractions like Fort Laramie and the imposing Ames Monument to America's railroad pioneers.
South Greeley - directly south of Cheyenne, South Greeley is a relaxed neighborhood that is a fine base from which to explore its larger cousin to the north. A few miles from the Colorado State Line, it's also well placed if you want to use a rental car to head to hiking trails at Soapstone Prairie or Red Mountain.
Cheyenne has a city-wide bus network that is operated by Cheyenne Transit Program (CTP). It only runs during daytime hours, and the routes are limited, but at $1.50 per journey, buses can be a cheap way to see the sights. You can also purchase a 30-journey punch card for $22, making travel even cheaper.
There are plenty of taxi companies in the Cheyenne area, and rates vary. However, a typical rate would be around $10 for the first four miles, then $5 per mile after that. With no Uber service available as yet, renting a car would usually be a much cheaper option.
With so much countryside on Cheyenne's doorstep, renting a car is a great transportation option (and it makes getting to Laramie much easier too). Aside from rental outlets at Cheyenne Airport, you'll also find branches of A1 Car Rental and Enterprise in the center of town. Expect rates to be around $15 per day.
Downtown Cheyenne is the place to go for western clothing, household ornaments, and jewelry, with stores like Boot Barn selling a huge range of apparel, and Wyoming Home covering interior decor products. Check out Lincolnway and 17th Street for the highest concentration of boutiques. There are also great out-of-town options as well. Campstool Road hosts the Sierra Trading Company, while the huge Frontier Mall has a branch of Boot Barn and the All Wild and Western gift shop (among many, many chain stores).
If you need to shop for groceries in Cheyenne, you'll find branches of Kohl's, Albertsons, and Walmart in the area, so all of your basic needs should be covered. Prices are around $3.20 for a gallon of milk and $2.90 for 12 eggs.
Food in Cheyenne is all about big portions, friendly service, and, above all, locally produced, succulent beef. If barbecue is your thing, don't miss Dickey's Barbecue Pit at the Frontier Mall or the Albany on Capitol Avenue. There's bistro-style cooking at the Suite Bistro, excellent Mexican food at the Tortilla Factory, and delicately matured steak at Poor Richard's. Prices vary, but a first-class steak meal shouldn't come to more than $25.