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6 Ways to Experience Cheyenne Chic

Cheyenne, Wyoming is a veritable goldmine for cowboy culture. Known worldwide as the home of the Daddy of ‘em all Rodeo and Cheyenne Frontier Days, this bustling city is Western through and through. But what if you happen to find yourself in Cheyenne at any other time during the year? We’re so glad you asked! Here are six chic ways to enjoy a side of Cheyenne you haven’t met yet. This unexpected take on Cheyenne is artistic, historic, and delicious—a perfect combination for year-round fun.

This story was created in partnership with Visit Cheyenne.

Cheyenne, Wyoming Street Art

1. EXPLORE THE BOOMING STREET ART SCENE

When you think of giant, colorful murals, cities like Los Angeles or Austin might come to mind. But take one look at Cheyenne’s newest art installments and you’ll be realize it’s happening in the Cowboy State! Spend the morning walking downtown where you’ll find a surprising amount of art. Over 30 Big Boots (Cheyenne’s eight-foot-tall, hand-painted cowboy boots) are tucked like easter eggs throughout town, each with a unique story to tell. And following the Paint Slingers festival now in its fifth year, dozens of sensational murals peek out of alleyways and stand boldly on street corners. Keep an eye out for bison-inspired motifs and an impressive representation of Frida Kahlo that reaches two-stories high.

Cheyenne Chic pin

Museums and history of Cheyenne

2. BRUSH UP ON AMERICAN HISTORY

Did you know that Wyoming was the first territory in the United States to guarantee women the right to vote and hold public office? Not only was Cheyenne the setting of this historic legislation, but it is also rich in Native American cultural heritage. Additionally, the Oregon Trail intersects the state to the north, and Cheyenne was later a hub of commerce for the Union Pacific Railroad as our nation expanded westward. There is much to see in Cheyenne to take in this kaleidoscope of legacy. The Wyoming State Museum, Wyoming State Capitol, Cheyenne Depot Museum, and Cowgirls of the West Museum are all wonderful places to spend during a chic afternoon in Cheyenne.

Craft Beer and Distilleries in Cheyenne

3. QUENCH YOUR THIRST FOR CRAFT BREW

Cheyenne is considered to be the northern edge of the Front Range; a region well known for its robust craft beer scene. And Cheyenne is no exception! Four craft breweries and two distilleries call Cheyenne home. Follow the Daddy of the Malt Craft Beverage Trail to sample each of their unique flavors. Enjoy the cozy vibes of Danielmark’s Brewery, set in a historic house with a spacious backyard patio, or sip a classic Saddle Bronc Brown from Black Tooth Brewing while listening to live music. You really can’t go wrong tasting a rhubarb-infused whiskey at Chronicles right across the street from a live shootout reenactment, either. 

Dining in Cheyenne

4. TREAT YOURSELF TO LOCAL FARE

You don’t need to be a red meat aficionado to enjoy a meal in Cheyenne (although the steak options here are noteworthy). There is something for everyone to enjoy. Start with a hearty breakfast at the Luxury Diner, set in a trolley car dating back to 1894. Don’t forget to pick up a cinnamon roll to go! After a morning exploring the city, enjoy a tray of tacos from Best Tacos and Burritos La Paz—the go-to for locals. Dinner options are vast, but we recommend trying The Metropolitan Downtown, a chic, brand-new establishment serving everything from salmon to steak that proves there’s more to Cheyenne than cowboy boots. But we won’t blame you for wearing yours at the bar.

The Lincoln, Cheyenne Wyoming

5. CATCH A LIVE SHOW

If you’re hoping to catch live music in Cheyenne but didn’t make it for Frontier Nights, stop by the Lincoln to see what’s playing. This historic venue was most recently used as a movie theater, but has been playfully revamped to host the best bands and artists in the West. While COVID-19 restrictions are still in place at the time of writing, the Lincoln is open and operating according to all safety guidelines. So sit back, enjoy the show, and know that your safety is Cheyenne’s top priority.

Curt Gowdy State Park, WY

6. HIKE OR BIKE IN CURT GOWDY STATE PARK

No trip to Cheyenne is complete without a visit to Curt Gowdy State Park. Set in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains, the park is only 24 miles from downtown Cheyenne. Anglers, hikers, and mountain bikers will all find something to do on the many trails and three unique reservoirs within the park. Camping opportunities are tremendous, too. We wouldn’t blame you for spending the night! Hike to a hidden waterfall, then stand-up paddleboard as the sun sets before roasting s’mores over a campfire. Curt Gowdy is also open in the winter, when you can see locals zoom around the reservoir on “ice sailboats.” Now that’s a Wyoming holiday. 




Legends, stars, and close-kept secrets in Southern Arizona State Parks

Legends, stars, and close-kept secrets in Southern Arizona State Parks

As America embraces #SweaterWeather and pumpkin spice lattes, southern Arizona state parks are a safe haven for those not yet ready to bundle up or face the freeze. This itinerary will take you through six parks that not only won’t have you reaching for a puffy coat, but will also pull you into their tales of lost gold, found secret caves, legends, and stars.

Not all of these state parks offer overnight accommodations or camping, so we have noted nearby places to stay so you can make the most of your time in the parks, rather than on the road. This itinerary should take a week, with drive time around six hours total.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Casey

State: 
Arizona

Start/End: 
Phoenix/Tucson

Total miles:
308 miles (1,240 km)

Suggested days: 
7 days

Suggested season: 
Fall, Winter

GETTING STARTED

If you’re driving, start wherever you like, of course. If you’re flying in, start in Phoenix and wrap up your itinerary in Tucson after you’ve explored each of these southern Arizona state parks.

Day 1 Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park, one of Arizona's southern state parks

Your first park stop is named for the Dutchman who never revealed the location of the gold he found in the Superstition Mountains. Surrounded by the lore of the hidden gold mine and nestled at the base of the dramatic mountains, Lost Dutchman State Park is also a playground for hikers, mountain bikers, and campers. Enjoy the treasure of spotting local wildlife and desert wildflowers—if not the original treasure of gold.

We recommend grabbing a campsite in the park and committing a couple days to exploring and learning about the history of the area. The park offers numerous hiking trails through the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, including an educational native plant trail. Mountain bikers can enjoy the new loop around the perimeter of Lost Dutchman, as well.

Be sure to watch the Superstition Mountains as the sun sets for an unforgettable first night on your Southwest Arizona Parks Itinerary.

Day 2 Oracle State Park

1 hour, 40 minutes – 92 miles/148 km

After getting one last adventure in at Lost Dutchman State Park, hit the road for about an hour and a half to Oracle State Park. This is a day-use only park, but you’re going to make the most of the day so be sure to grab a good breakfast and coffee on the way.

Start at the park visitor center, then take a self-guided tour through the historic Kannally Ranch House. After familiarizing yourself with the history and flora and fauna of the area, hit the trails. There are 15 miles of trails through the high-desert habitat, which you can explore on foot, bike, or horseback. Keep a sharp eye out for wildlife such as javelina, deer, and birds, as this park is a wildlife sanctuary first and foremost.

The park closes at 5 p.m., so head into the town of Oracle for dinner and check into your hotel or set up camp at Peppersauce Campground. You’ll want to return to the parking lot just outside the park after dark to watch the night sky like you have probably never seen before. Designated an International Dark Sky Park, Oracle is a special place to see the Milky Way or find planets in the dark. If you’re camping, you can continue to enjoy these special skygazing views all night long.

Day 3 Kartchner Caverns State Park

1 hour 45 minutes – 92 miles/148 km

You’ve searched for gold and seen stars you can’t in much of the rest of the world, so now we’re going to let you in on an old secret. The cave for which Kartchner Caverns State Park was named was kept secret for decades before it was opened to the public as you can see it now.

You’ll want to spend the night in the park, so be sure to reserve a campsite or cabin in advance. While you’re making reservations, book a cave tour (or a few!). The drive from Oracle to Kartchner Caverns is about two hours. When you arrive, start at the Discovery Center to learn all about the history of this secret cave, how Arizona’s caves form, and the local bat population. In addition to the educational video presentation and hands-on interpretive displays, the kids will have a great time checking items off the scavenger hunt around the Discovery Center!

Depending on the timing of your cave tour(s), be sure to see the park above-ground today and/or tomorrow morning. There are a number of hiking trails through the park waiting to be explored in addition to the caves.

Days 4–5 Tombstone Courthouse & Patagonia Lake State Parks

1 hour, 40 minutes – 91 MILES/146 KM

You can take a leisurely start to the morning, because your next stop is only 30 minutes away. Put your Wild West hat on, and get ready to step back in time with the likes of Wyatt Earp, the lawman we all know for the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone Courthouse State Park is the original courthouse building for Cochise County, Arizona. It serves as a museum today, where you can learn the true story of Earp and the Wild West. The town of Tombstone is a great place to linger and grab a meal before making the 1-hour-15-minute drive to your penultimate stop in these southern Arizona state parks, Patagonia Lake State Park.

Patagonia Lake, nestled in the hills, is preserved for recreation and habitat that will have you in full vacation mode.  We recommend you spend a couple days here to really relax and soak up all you’ve gotten to experience this week. Rent a cabin or set up in the campground, rub on some sunscreen, and pick your mode of fun. If you prefer to quietly birdwatch, grab the binoculars and seek the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermillion flycatcher, black vulture, and more. If you prefer fins to feathers, find a place to fish from the shore or a boat, or just paddle along without the fishing pole (fishing licenses and rental boats are available at the market on the lake). Patagonia Lake State Park has trails for hiking and horseback riding, so explore while watching out for local wildlife before enjoying a peaceful dinner near the lake, whether in your cabin or next to your tent.

Day 6 Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

45 minutes – 32 miles/52 km

On the shores of what we call the Santa Cruz River, previously called the Rio de Tubac, once stood a presidio, or fort. Today, you can visit an archaeological dig of some of the original buildings and much more. Three historical buildings, a museum, and a visitor center await you at Arizona’s first state park, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. Get a sense of life in this area for Native Americans all the way up to time when America was comprised of just 37 states. Walk through the historical, preserved buildings and cultivated gardens, then embark on a longer hike or horseback ride beyond to ponder the story of what is now southern Arizona.

Your connection and understanding of this part of America is much deeper for the time you’ve spent in these state parks, but the journey has only begun! Arizona has more than 30 state parks, and now you only have 25 left to visit!




Treat Yourself on this National Parks Road Trip

Treat Yourself on this National Parks Road Trip

Nothing is more enticing in the middle of an extended road trip than a long soak in some natural hot springs. Fortunately, the hot springs of Thermopolis are right in the middle of what may be one of the most beautiful road trip itineraries in the Rocky Mountain West. Hop on this route from any point—be it Bozeman, Jackson, or Rapid City—and enjoy the open road with the promise of soothing hot springs.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Casey

State:
Wyoming, South Dakota

Start/End:
Jackson/Rapid City

Total miles:
770 miles (1,240 km)

Suggested days:
8–10 days

Suggested season: 
Spring, fall

GETTING STARTED

You can start this route at either end or join it at the nearest point to you. We’ll start in South Dakota and work our way through the bucket list destinations through Wyoming to Montana.

Day 1 Badlands to Crazy Horse

Mount Rushmore on national parks road trip with hot springs

Kick off your vacation in Badlands National Park, where horses and rhinos once roamed and bison and bighorn sheep live today. The dramatic and curious geology and paleontology of the park will have you staring at the landscape in awe. Start at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to learn about the fossils, wildlife, rock formations, and more. Then drive the Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) to watch for wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.

Highway 240 will take you in the direction of your next stop: Mount Rushmore. Spend the night in or near Rapid City before checking out this massive national monument.

Day 2 CARVED ROCKS AND BLACK HILLS

Black Hills Road trip

2 hours, 12 minutes – 65 miles/105 km

Rise early to get some morning views of Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The memorials are remarkable structures and worth spending some time to learn about, so take your time. Both enormous sculptural works are located in Black Hills National Forest, which is worth exploring after you witness and learn about the memorials. We recommend putting on some hiking shoes to see the Cathedral Spires.

Hot springs are probably sounding pretty nice right about now, and the wait will be worth it! For now, rest your tired feet in Custer to maximize your time adventuring in the Black Hills before you continue to Wyoming.

Day 3 America’s First National Monument

Devil's Tower during our Yellowstone Road trip

3 hours – 170 miles/274 km

A two-hour drive will take you to Devil’s Tower, a fascinating and bizarre natural landmark that is also the nation’s first national monument. Nearly 900 feet tall, the looming butte is a geologic wonder. Learn about America’s conservation history, the unusual rock formation that comprises the tower, Native American heritage connected to the area, and the wildlife that live here.

When you’re ready to get back on the road, head into Gillette to enjoy a surprising local foodie scene and a welcoming town in which to rest your head.

Day 4 R&R in Thermopolis

Hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming on National Parks road trip itinerary

3 hours, 15 minutes – 193 MILES/311 KM

You’ve been on the road for three long days, so you’ll probably hit snooze on your alarm once, but just know that you’re going to get some time for slow travel and R&R today. The less-than-four-hour drive to Thermpolis includes some highly scenic stretches, so take time to stop, stretch, and take photos.

When you arrive in Thermopolis, take your pick of lodging, but we recommend finding a place with easy access to hot springs—you deserve it!

Before you settle into a pool, get to know the area. Hot Springs State Park is the heart of Thermopolis. Take a short, leisurely stroll from the park entrance to the Swinging Bridge over the Bighorn River, where you can see the Rainbow Terraces. This is a beautiful geological formation where hot mineral water cascades down over colorful rock. Check out the Big Spring, where the turquoise and green spring bubbles up at a piping hot 127 degrees Fahrenheit. This water is what feeds all the other pools and attractions in the park, and interpretive displays nearby will give you a better understanding of the area.

Hot Springs pool in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Now that you know all about the geology, culture, history, and wellness benefits of the hot springs, it’s time to slip into the waters and just relax. You can soak for free at the State Bath House in the heart of the state park. The Star Plunge nearby has a water slide and more pools to choose from, and Hellie’s Tepee Pools has a spa in addition to pools and water slides. Take your pick, or try one of each throughout your time in Thermopolis.

Top your day off with a meal at the local brewery, the One Eyed Buffalo.

Day 5 Enjoy Wyoming’s HOt Springs

0 hours – 0 miles/0 km

Today, you won’t drive much at all. Since you’ll be sticking close to town, you can hop back into the hot springs at any time between activities!

Start the day off with a float down the Bighorn River. Hire a local guide or raft company to either paddle for you or shuttle you for a peaceful float past dramatic red cliffs, wildlife, and beautiful views. We recommend getting a fishing license and bringing your fly rod with you as you drift downriver. Your chosen rafting or floating experience will likely end right in town, so grab lunch at Nature’s Corner and stroll around Broadway and downtown after lunch.

Whether you’re a kid or a kid-at-heart, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center is something to get excited about. Walk through more than 58 mounted skeletons and hundreds of displays, and picture them walking through this very area. You can even take a 90-minute trip to an active dinosaur dig site or spend a full day digging alongside museum staff!

Before you know it, it will be time for dinner at Las Fuentes or the Safari Club and another dip in the springs.

Day 6 Petroglyphs and scenic drives

1 hour, 35 minutes – 68 miles/110 km

As you relax into your time in Thermopolis, sleep in and linger over breakfast at the Black Bear Cafe. Today will include a short driving loop to warm you up for the rest of your road trip. The first stop is Legend Rock Petroglyph Site. About 20 miles west of town, the site has at least 283 petroglyphs on 92 different sandstone panels. Be sure to get the directions and, depending on the time of year, a key to this remote site.

From Legend Rock, you’ll point your car in the direction of the town of Kirby. This is where Wyoming Whiskey is made. Take a tour of the distillery, followed by a tasting with a knowledgeable staff member. Hot tip: This may be the perfect souvenir to take home for yourself and friends.

As you make your way back into Thermopolis, take Buffalo Pasture Road to see the Hot Springs State Park bison herd. Remember, only view the bison from inside your vehicle at a respectful and safe distance. This is for your safety and theirs.

Grab dinner at your new favorite restaurant, and get in one last soak in the healing waters, because tomorrow morning you’ll be on your way to Yellowstone National Park.

Day 7 Scenic Route to Yellowstone

3 hours, 45 minutes – 215 miles/345 km

Almost the moment you leave the town of Thermopolis, you’ll enter Wind River Canyon, a Scenic Byway that follows the Bighorn River upstream as it changes names to the Wind River and flows from Boysen Reservoir. Keep an eye out for new views at every single turn and signs about the geology you’re driving right through!

After driving through Riverton, you may get the chance to spot one of the bison herds recently reintroduced on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Dubois is a great town to stop and stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat. It’s also your launching point for the second Scenic Byway you’ll drive today. Togwotee Pass over the Continental Divide to the south gate of Yellowstone National Park has numerous trailheads (like the Falls Campground and Turpin Meadows), high likelihood of spotting wildlife, and absolutely stunning views, including your first look at the Teton Mountains.

Make your way into Jackson to get checked into lovely lodging, like the Wort Hotel, then go play in Grand Teton National Park! After you snap pictures of the Tetons, head to Jenny Lake, where you can play on the water or hike right below the park’s namesake.

Overnight in Jackson (don’t miss the Cowboy Bar!) with plans to hit the road early for a full day in Yellowstone National Park.

Day 8 America’s First national park

A colorful hot spring in Yellowstone National Park

1 hour, 15 minutes – 60 MILES/97 KM

Rise early, grab breakfast and snacks at The Bunnery, and point the car north to Yellowstone National Park.

Plan for a full day in the park, as this is the grand finale of your travels. Enjoy the wildlife and geothermal attractions from a safe distance, carve out some time for fishing or a picnic, and take a hike to stretch your legs and enjoy the wonders of the nation’s first national park at your own pace. There are plenty of hot springs to see, but none you can soak in, so you may find yourself circling back to Thermopolis before you head home!




Family Fun and Hot Springs in Wyoming

Who else feels like it’s high time for a vacation? For those of us traveling with the kiddos, what’s better than a place that caters to the relaxation needs of the adults, and the fun, playful spirits of the kids? Immerse yourself in the healing waters of the world’s largest mineral hot springs Wyoming, where family fun meets ultimate relaxation: Thermopolis.

This story was created in partnership with Hot Springs Travel & Tourism.

Collage of images of sunsets, landscapes, and wildflowers in Hot Springs County, Wyoming

Family Fun at Hot Springs State Park

Thermopolis is known for Hot Springs State Park, where many other Wyomingites come to play and relax. Along the Big Horn River, more than 8,000 gallons of water flow over the rainbow-colored terraces every day at a constant temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Walk along the terraces, or swim in the water beneath them. The park has a free bath house where the water is maintained at a soothing 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And you won’t want to miss the “Big Spring”, where the natural spring contains 27 different minerals, making the water a beautiful turquoise and green color.

Thermopolis has rainbow terraces and hot springs in Wyoming

Don’t feel like driving all the way to Yellowstone on your trip? No worries, you can still see a herd of bison within our park. The park’s bison herd resides in a few pastures on the north and east sides of town. A public loop road allows visitors to get a closer view of the animal. Remember though, they’re wild and can be very dangerous, so stay in your vehicle.

Three images of bison in Thermopolis, Hot Springs County, Wyoming

Dig for Dinosaur Bones

Another family fun activity is to take a trip to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. The center includes a world-class museum, working dig sites, and a preparation laboratory. It was named one of the World’s Coolest Places for Kids by TIME Magazine in 2019. Yes, it’s that good. Spend a day digging for real fossils with the professionals, or simply explore the museum and live dig sites.

Fish or Raft the Big Horn River through Wind River Canyon

Just four miles south of Thermopolis is Wind River Canyon, which is one of the most scenic drives in Wyoming. The river cuts through gorgeous, lush terrain and offers stunning views, exciting whitewater rafting, and world-class fishing. The canyon is part of the Wind River Indian Reservation, so visitors will need an additional license to fish the river, and cannot float the river within the canyon unless guided. We recommend booking a whitewater trip in the canyon one day, and a fishing trip that takes you all the way to the state park for another day.

Collage of fishing and water sports pictures in Hot Springs County, Wyoming

Explore the Wild West at the Historical Museum

Sometimes it can be hard to convince children that a history museum will be a fun time—the Hot Springs County Museum is different. Rather than walking around just reading blurbs of information on a sign, this museum makes visitors feel like they’ve just stepped back into a different time period. Climb aboard a railroad caboose, sit at the original bar where local gang members used to hangout, and walk through the old town setting peering through windows of a dentist office and newspaper shop.

Hot Springs County Museum exhibit

Discover Ancient Art at the Legend Rock Petroglyphs

While you’re feeling excited about history, why not drive out of town a bit to see the Legend Rock petroglyphs. Only 23 miles west of town, there are at least 283 different petroglyphs on 92 individual sandstone “panels.” This is a great place for adults and kids alike to enjoy the beauty of ancient art.

Petroglyphs near Thermopolis in Hot Springs County, Wyoming

Enjoy the family fun activities, small-town hospitality, and unique outdoor adventure that Thermopolis has to offer. Whether Hot Springs County was your destination, or it’s a stop en route to Yellowstone, make the most of your Wyoming family trip!