We love to travel. If you’re interested in more adventures in the Western US, check out our Colorado hikes.
If you follow us on Instagram, then you saw that we got up close and personal with some buffalo. That experience happened at the end of a day trip that we took to Cheyenne, WY on a whim. And what a great whim it was!
When leaving for the trip, we knew nothing about Cheyenne, other than that it was only an hour and a half drive from Boulder, and that it was in Wyoming. Sarah and I are always up for any adventure that takes us somewhere new, so with excitement in our hearts and two crazy kids in the backseat, we set off.
First stop, coffee and egg sandwiches for the drive. Next stop, the Cheyenne visitor center.
Visiting Cheyenne in early May is still very much the “off season”. We (and you) are getting only a glimpse of what Cheyenne has to offer. For a day trip like this, traveling in the off season is great because you don’t feel the pressure to do everything (because it’s not all open) and because with fewer crowds you really get a personal experience (as we did with the bison!). Our day also included a splattering of rain, but you’ll see how we handled that with kids below.
When we arrived in Cheyenne, the boys were all bleary-eyed and confused. It took us a few minutes to get our bearings, talk to the friendly staff in the visitor’s center, and make our first move.
Cheyenne Depot Museum
The visitor center is located downtown in the old train depot. The building also houses the Cheyenne Depot Museum. The museum’s focus is the history of trains in the Cheyenne region and particularly the Union Pacific. When I glanced in the museum’s entrance, the exhibits looked like they were geared more towards adults/older kids (and much of it is), BUT when I heard that there was a model train on the second floor that the boys could operate, I knew it was worth a visit.
As you can probably tell, Alex LOVED the model train. The area was set up perfectly for a young or old kid to sit at and safely operate the train. There was a chair at just the right height, and the controls were very simple : an on/off switch and a few screws at just the right place so that the train couldn’t go too fast, too slow, or in reverse.
We sat at that table for a good 30 minutes and would have stayed longer if we weren’t pulled away by the call of nature.
While the boys and I were in the museum, Sarah stayed outside and planned the rest of our day….
After the museum, we let the boys run around in the Depot plaza to burn of some steam and so that Sarah and I could take in the scenery and take a few pics.
Our next stop was a store selling a variety of western gear called The Wrangler. It’s located right next to the plaza, making it an easy walk for the boys. I was hoping that they’d be content to sit in the stroller while Sarah and I tried on cowboy boots and jeans, but that was decidedly not the case.
Alex loved the boots section, and seeing him in mini cowboy boots was the cutest sight. Every bone in my body wanted to buy him a pair (especially the pink sparkly ones that he loved), but common sense kicked in, and knowing that this kid wears shoes *maybe* 5% of the time, I couldn’t justify buying them knowing they would sit unused in the closet… maybe we can buy some for next winter when he’ll at least cover those toes while walking to and from the car.
I also really wanted to buy a pair for myself, but after trying on five pairs, decision fatigue set in and I left with nothing. The reasons to head back to Cheyenne are just piling up : come fall there will be two people in the house that NEEEEED new boots! 😉
If it were just Sarah and I, I’m sure we would have spent more time casually walking around the downtown and visiting more stores, but one store was the limit for the boys, so we hopped in the car and drove to Holliday Park to see Big Boy : the largest steam engine in the world, yes world.
Sadly, as you can see from the photo below, Big Boy is permanently parked with a chain-link fence surrounding him. Not very exciting or photogenic. But, he’s big. We took a few quick photos in the rain, then it was back to the car.
At this point the rain was coming down like crazy, but all of our weather apps told us that it wasn’t raining, and that the overcast skies would clear by evening. It gave us the motivation we needed to make a plan for the rest of the day.
Laramie County Library
Sarah had the good idea to visit the Cheyenne library while we were waiting for the storm to pass (I thought it was a mom’s job to have these ideas in their back pocket, but I guess super-aunts do too!). It’s actually the Laramie County Library, and it is amazing.
The whole second floor of the library is the kids’ section. As you’d expect, it’s packed with books, but it also has some amazing explore/build/tinker zones. These photographs really don’t do the space justice. The interactive zones kept our boys busy for at least two hours, and I was impressed at the levels of learning that could take place in the same zone whether your kiddo was 12 months or 12 years old. Basically, if you have some time to kill in Cheyenne, the library is a great place to spend it.
The library also had a little cafe, and that’s where I picked up sandwiches, wraps, and other snacks for a car picnic as we headed out on our next adventure…
Terry Bison Ranch
We ended our day with a visit to the Terry Bison Ranch. It’s a few miles south of Cheyenne, on the WY-CO border, making it a convenient stop on our way out of town.
First a little side note about our introduction to the ranch. At the visitor center, the employee told me to check out the ranch because you could “ride a train and feed the bison”. I smiled, said that sounded cool, and then immediately assumed that I heard him wrong, because doesn’t that sound crazy?
While I was giving Sarah some ideas to research for our day, I told her to “check out the bison ranch”, but I did not tell her that you could ride a train and feed the bison, because again, isn’t that crazy?
When we got out of the museum and Sarah rounded up the list of things she thought that we should do that day, top on the list was visiting the ranch, because YOU CAN RIDE A TRAIN AND FEED BISON. It’s crazy, but true.
The “train” car is a bit funny looking, more like a duck boat, but it’s perfect for this outing. All of the windows open, and you get a good view of the landscape as the train rolls along its tracks.
Fortunately for us, the train was completely empty except for the driver and two other passengers. I think it was a combination of the time of year, rainy weather earlier in the day, and the fact that we took the last ride of the day.
As you’re riding out to the pastures with the bison, you pass through the stables and barns housing a variety of other animals (camels, horses, peacocks, etc.). Depending upon the amount of time you have and what’s going on at the ranch, I left understanding that there are opportunities to visit the other animals. For us, just feeding the bison (and riding the train!) was enough excitement.
While on the drive, our host told us all about the history of the ranch and about the variety of animals living there. She also told us a little about the herd and about the personalities of individual bison living on the ranch.
Once you’re in the middle of the herd, the train door is opened, and the bison slowly approach to get a little treat. This is an amazing time to visit the ranch because it’s calving season, so you get to see all of the mommas with their wee baby bison. So cute.
The bison are so gentle, they come up to the train’s door and windows, and with a big slobbery tongue, they’ll take a treat or two from your hands. Our guys were so excited to see the bison, but they were a little timid about feeding them straight from their hands, instead, they were happy to throw treats out the window for the big mommas to come up and nibble.
Visiting the ranch was such an amazing and peaceful end to our trip. Plus, we couldn’t have asked for more picturesque conditions – sometimes it does pay to wait out the storm, because the grey clouds and setting sun pair perfectly with a field of buffalo.
As you can see, our visit to Cheyenne was short and sweet, and it definitely left us wanting more! We can’t wait for a return visit to our neighboring state.
If you’re planning a visit to Cheyenne any time soon, this is just a snippet of what you can see and do, especially depending upon the time of year. For example, the Cheyenne Steamers look awesome, but they were still closed for the season when we visited. There are a number of other museums in the city, and they are currently building a children’s museum! It’s definitely worth reviewing the City’s attractions page to help plan your visit. And possibly even plan your trip around the town’s Frontier Days festival.