Riverton, Wyoming, is a special destination en route to Yellowstone for several reasons. The first is the access to Native American culture, due to the town’s location at the edge of the state’s only Native American Reservation. The second is the full calendar, which means whenever you pass through you’re likely to find an authentic Wyoming event to attend. Finally, you can reach all these Wyoming cultural experiences in Riverton via plane or on a road trip.
Riverton has a lot to offer, and the best way to get a sense of the culture is also the best way to stretch your legs after your time on the road or in the plane: Go for a walk.
Art and Community
Start on the lovely Main Street, browsing local art in the shops, sampling locally made baked goods, and learning about the gorgeous rocks that come out of the surrounding mountain ranges. While you walk, keep an eye out for the pieces of art on the town’s buildings. You might not have guessed that one of your Wyoming cultural experiences would include massive displays of classic art and murals, but it does. You can follow a tour of the artwork while getting to know the town.
Having worked up an appetite on your walking tour, head to the Trailhead for lunch. This restaurant serves up local beef with a story that you can read all about while you wait for your order. The opportunity to engage with Wyoming culture while having a positive impact on a locally owned restaurant and a nearby family ranch is a tough combination to beat—especially when it tastes so delicious!
History and Culture
Due to Riverton’s proximity to the Wind River Indian Reservation, this town is a unique gateway to Wyoming cultural experiences. Just a few miles from town, you might spot the recently re-introduced bison herd roaming the Reservation. Or tour the many historical and cultural sites on the Reservation, including the gravesite of Sacajawea, the young Shoshone woman who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition across much of the continent.
Riverton is home to a number of places where you can take a deeper dive into Wyoming culture and stories. Spend some time at the Riverton Museum in downtown to learn about the town’s history. Then head up to the Wind River Hotel & Casino’s Northern Arapaho Experience Room. In this intimate museum, you can view regional artifacts and talk to a Native American elder to gain perspective and personal insight.
Riverton is called the Rendezvous City because in the 1830s this was one of the sites where mountain men and fur traders met to trade goods for hides. This meeting was also a chance to party and reconnect—or rendezvous. You can reconnect with this history, too, at the annual 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous, held in early July each year. This is the only place in the country where the rendezvous reenactment takes place in the exact place of the original gathering. Attend to learn about American history, learn new skills like axe throwing, and talk to re-enactors about the life of mountain men.
Every year, Riverton also holds a monthlong summer celebration in July. The Riverton Rendezvous and Balloon Rally, is full of color and music. You can ride a hot air balloon over the Wind River, join in parades, learn to country swing dance, create some chalk art, and more.
This year, the town is adding even more to the calendar the weekend of July 11, 2020. This big event of 2020 will include a day in the park gathering with live music and vendors, a statewide skateboard competition to watch, an obstacle course race, an evening of live music and more.
No matter the month you visit, be sure to coordinate your summer visit to Riverton to include a Tuesday night so you can watch the weekly Native American dance exhibition. Hosted by the Wind River Hotel & Casino, these free demonstrations are a unique Wyoming cultural experience. Learn all about Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone culture, song, and dance, then join hands for the last dance of the evening.
If, somehow, none of these events match your calendar, be sure to check the Riverton events calendar, as there is always a reason to gather in the Rendezvous City.
Road Trip or FlyRiverton
Whatever Wyoming cultural experiences you’re planning on having in Riverton, getting there is the easy part. There are regular flights to and from town, connecting from Denver, Colorado. The highways that lead to Riverton also lead to Yellowstone National Park. Riverton and all the Wyoming cultural experiences it offers are a destination all their own or an authentic stop on your way to or from Wyoming’s national parks.