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Visitors Guide to Cheyenne’s Frontier Days in 2023

If your giddy-up needs a pick-me-up, there’s no better place to connect with your inner cowboy or cowgirl than Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Cheyenne is a generally quiet city where dusty streets lead to the old Union Pacific Railroad station that put this Western town on the map. But every year in the last week of July, about 275,000 visitors descend on this unassuming town where the largest outdoor rodeo in the world takes place at the city’s premier event, Frontier Days. For 10 days, the city hustles and bustles with all things Western – from the rodeo itself to nightly concerts to packed streets and shiny new belt buckles.

If you plan to visit during this year’s Frontier Days, held July 21st – 30th in 2023, here are the best ways to enjoy not just the rodeo but all of what Cheyenne has to offer. Because this town isn’t just about a once-a-year event – it’s a year-round destination with more than enough reasons to visit.

What to Do

Horses, Pancakes, and Shows at Frontier Days Cheyenne Frontier Days
Credit: Cheyenne Frontier Days by Cheyenne Frontier Days

Horses, Pancakes, and Shows at Frontier Days

This year’s rodeo is in its 127th year and has a new tournament-style format, meaning every event will lead to payouts – to the tune of $1 million in cash and prizes – and advancement to the finals. From team roping to bull riding, the events fill the schedule, but there’s plenty to do outside of the arena.

The Pancake Breakfast (July 24th, 26th, 28th) is just about as popular as the rodeo itself. So much pancake batter is consumed during Frontier Days that a concrete mixer is used to hold it all. Get there by 7:00 am and find your place in line. About 20-30,000 visitors queue up to see cooks and servers flipping and tossing 100,000 flapjacks. And with the promise that you won’t wait longer than 30 minutes, efficiency is the name of the game.

Tip: Your money’s no good here. The Pancake Breakfast is free!

Cheyenne embraces its Frontier Days theme and shares its past with visitors, and before you know it, you’ll feel like you’re back in colonial times. At Old Frontier Town, you’ll meet Western merchants, craftspeople, and Wild West characters. Attend the Chuckwagon Experience and Cookoff to watch crews show off their creativity, preparing dishes with restored chuckwagons and cast-iron equipment as a backdrop. In Indian Village, experience traditional dances and tribal storytelling that honors the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho indigenous tribes.

And at night, a whole different experience comes to life. Live concerts ranging from Cody Johnson and Zach Bryan to Five Finger Death Punch with Papa Roach and everything in between. The earlier you reserve your tickets, the better.

Bespoke Hats and Purses in Cheyenne’s Historic Town Cheyenne - The Wrangler Store
Credit: Cheyenne - The Wrangler Store by Boot Barn

Bespoke Hats and Purses in Cheyenne’s Historic Town

If you’ve admired Rip Wheeler’s swagger as he tips his hat in Yellowstone, you’ve come to the right place. Cheyenne’s The Wrangler is an enormous western-wear store where you can ask for a cattleman’s crease and a certain dip to your brim, and they’ll mold your hat to your liking. You’ll start with the overwhelming experience of rows and rows of hats. But no worries – the friendly staff will guide you toward the best hat for you.

Then they’ll pass it through steam and use expert hands to mold and shape it into a hat you can be proud of. Add your own hat band for personality, and about 15 minutes later, you’re on your way to blending in with the locals.

Pro Tip: The Wrangler has been known to sell 1,200 hats in one weekend during Frontier Days. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Just down the way on Carey Street, you’ll find Alexis Drake, a custom leather handbag store. Open the door to the sight and smell of leather, and from there, you’ll get lost in the hides of snakes, cows, crocodiles, and buffalo. Designer Alexis Garrett will help you whittle down your options as you consider design structures, finishes like zippers and studs, custom stitching, lining, and straps. If you live nearby, you can visit as your purse goes from idea to reality, but if this is a vacation, Garrett will send you updates throughout the design process until your bag is ready to be shipped.

With a hat and purse in hand, you’ll have the finest of souvenirs from your time in The Cowboy State.

Hike to a Waterfall at Curt Gowdy State Park Curt Gowdy State Park
Credit: Curt Gowdy State Park by Curt Gowdy State Park

Hike to a Waterfall at Curt Gowdy State Park

Cheyenne is flat, but take your dusty boots about 24 miles outside of town to a state park that offers an entirely different terrain: paths that traverse steep hills and gentle rises, massive boulders, and the tell-tale babbling brook that suggests a waterfall up ahead.

Curt Gowdy State Park is a surprising delight. Named after the famous sportscaster who was the Voice of the Red Sox, this park features a state-of-the-art Visitor Center where you can pick up a map and prep for your adventure. A moderate hike on the out-and-back, 3-mile Crow Creek trail will lead you to a truly hidden waterfall. In fact, if you don’t take the last few steps across the stream to the outcropping of land in the middle, you’ll miss it. Once it comes into view, it is wow-inducing.

Pro Tip: Wear waterproof boots unless you’re light on your feet. And do take plenty of water. The air is dry and elevation changes can be challenging for those who aren’t regular hikers.

Eat and Drink Like the Locals Railyard - Coffee Haus & Eatery
Credit: Railyard - Coffee Haus & Eatery by Railyard - Coffee Haus & Eatery

Eat and Drink Like the Locals

Rocky Mountain Oysters, anyone? Heads up: they’re not oysters, and they have nothing to do with seafood. At The Bunkhouse Bar & Grill, they’re known as Bunk Nuts, and that’s all we’re going to say about that. Google it, then make a vow that you will try them just once. It’s a true sign you can hang with the Wyomingites.

For a hearty breakfast fit for a ranch hand, grab a table at Railyard. Order the Big Boy Burrito, named not just for the legendary steam train but also for its size. With this flour tortilla filled with eggs, cheese, green chili, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and tomato, you won’t need lunch anytime soon.

For both drinks and eats, don’t miss Railspur, which opened in 2023. Using reclaimed wood from the rail station and with thoughtful design elements like a bar top made of old train car flooring, this bar marries history with hip. Order a Fluffy Cow Hazy IPA and the pierogies, fried in butter, tossed with parmesan, drizzled with balsamic, and topped with gorgonzola and truffle. These potato-filled treats are doubly impressive because they come out of the Los Conejos food truck parked just outside.

Finally, if you’re hankering for a happy hour but craving something a little more citified, visit the Paramount Ballroom, a clubby, contemporary bar with interestingly named cocktails like the Stubborn Cinderella, a just-as-you-would-expect pink concoction of the local Contortionist gin, St. Germaine, strawberries, lemon, honey citrus and floral. Or try the multilayered Traveling Salesman, a Manhattan meets Sazerac sipping drink featuring Bullet rye and Carpano Antica vermouth. Hungry? Order the charcuterie board.

Tip: Enter on Capitol Ave. Pass the coffee shop, make a left, and follow the art-lined hallway to the bar.

Where to Stay

Little America Hotel & Resort - Cheyenne Little America Hotel & Resort - Cheyenne
Credit: Little America Hotel & Resort - Cheyenne by Little America Hotel & Resort - Cheyenne

Little America Hotel & Resort - Cheyenne

Just outside of Cheyenne’s historic core, you’ll find a home away from home that is perfect for families, friend groups, couples, and singles. The name “Little America” is deceiving – this is a spacious resort with multiple buildings, huge event rooms, and a massive western lobby complete with a marble fireplace and club chairs.

While Little America is generally a roadside hotel you’ll find in several states, this particular location is a standout. Here you’ll find a full golf course, a sizable (and reasonably priced!) gift shop, a large dining room that serves all three meals, a beautiful ballroom, and even a café with grab-and-go items. During the summer months, the pool is a fantastic way to start your cooldown after a day at the rodeo, and the resort’s famous 75-cent ice cream cone will top it off.

Note: This is a great place to kick off the rodeo, as the hotel hosts the Cowgirls of the West Brunch and Fashion Show in its beautiful ballroom. Get inspired by Western designs and jewelry, participate in a silent auction, and meet the rodeo queens.

Pro tip: Request a ground-floor room with a patio. This is especially great for families with children, who can play in the courtyard just outside the room.

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