The jaw-dropping scenery, lively towns and distant dreamy peaks of the wild west state of Wyoming are a must-see for anyone who’s ever watched a Western and dreamt about days spent roaming the land on horse back in true all-American fashion. Whether you want to explore the wild west culture and history in the capital of Cheyenne or kickback on a rural escape in Jackson amid the national parks, you’ll get the ultimate taste of a cowboy’s life in Wyoming.
The perfect way to kick of a trip to the state is by starting off in Cheyenne, the capital and biggest city in Wyoming, where almost everything you can think of to give your stay a wild west feel has been catered for; whether you want to live like a cowboy, dine like a cowboy or just watch cowboys at work, you’ll find it here.
To get into the cowboy spirit of things, we’d recommend heading to Cheyenne Big Boots, the eight foot-tall giant cowboy boots covered in scenes painted by local artists which depict aspects of the city’s history, making them the perfect way to tie in cowboy culture and art. Plus, because they’re scattered across the city you’ll get a walking tour of the metropolis, which you can take with a guided mobile phone commentary, ensuring you won’t get lost. (cheyennedepotmuseumfoundation.org)
The best way to explore cowboy culture is to head to the city’s museum, and we recommend the girl power attitude of the Cowgirls Of The West Museum, which reveals that it’s not just the guys who rule the ranches, and where you can check out their trick saddles, rodeo outfits and read up on the most notorious girls on
After a day learning about life on a ranch, head out to experience the lifestyle for yourself. Check out the Bit-O-Wyo Ranch Trail Rides (they proudly proclaim, “This ain’t no flat prairie ride!”), as they’ll take you out over creeks and into valleys, making for a fantastic day of seeing the country around Cheyenne. And after a long day in the saddle, mosey on down to the Bit-O-Wyo for a Ranch Horse Barn Dinner Show, which, whilst not being the perfect occasion at which to don your girly, dry-clean-only Reiss dress, is a fun night of thigh-slappin’ and steak-eatin’ whilst being entertained by a troop of cowboys.
Rounding off your stay in Cheyenne, take a Historic Downtown Walking Tour (downtowncheyenne.com), the self-guided trip will take you round the historic core of the city. Just pick up a brochure at the Depot Visitor Centre and stroll off into the city.
Big Sky Country
Wyoming is home to two of America’s most stunning and internationally renowned national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Located in the northwest of the state, after a few days in Cheyenne head north to Jackson for your rural retreat, with the best way to travel and enjoy the landscape being by car, so go all out on your American road trip and hire some wheels for the journey, which should take between seven
and eight hours.
As soon as you hit Jackson, you’ll fell like you’ve arrived in a secluded haven, thanks to the Jackson Hole Valley which cuts the town off from the rest of the world. Take yourself off the beaten track to explore this stunning part of America, dubbed ‘Big Sky Country’, and we’d recommend kicking things off at Mammoth Hot Springs, where, thanks to the volcanic caldera at the heart of Yellowstone, you’ll enjoy it’s fascinating geographical surroundings peppered with hot springs. You won’t be able to take a dip – swimming in the springs is strictly illegal – but you’ll be blown away by the stunning scenery and it’s likely to be one of the best animal photo op areas you’ll come across,
as bull elk thrive in the region around the springs.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is another must-see. True, it’s not as big as its sister canyon in Arizona, but it’s still an imposing natural wonder curving through the middle of the Park by the Yellowstone River. The best place to take in the views is at Artist Point, which is, as its name suggests, a painter’s dream spot.
While Yellowstone is full of bizarre geographical features and unexpected views, Grand Teton National Park boasts the sort of dramatic mountain scenery that has provided the backdrop for many a Western flick. It’s here that you can while away the days touring the park on horseback, taking in some of the most stunning views in the world. The Teton Horseback Adventurers (horsebackadv.com) are located 45 miles north of Jackson Hole and they’ll take you for guided rides up through the mountains for one to three hour-long rides, which, depending on the package you choose can take you on forest trails, across creeks and up close and personal with the indigenous tile moose and bears. You can also book packages though companies such as Mad River Boat Trips (mad-river.com), who will whisk the adventurous away on a half-day riding trip on which you’ll take off into the wilderness, before getting your adrenaline pumping on an exhilarating ride via a white water boat trip down the Snake River Canyon.
For the ultimate horseback experience in Wyoming, a trip to Introduction To Rodeo (introductiontorodeo.com) is a must, as you’ll be taught plenty of cowboy basics to be roping in cattle in no time. The ranch is located on the Snake River Ranch, just 20 minutes from Jackson, and is run by some of the most experienced rodeo riders in Jackson Hole, the Putman family, and you can see them compete in the Jackson Hole Rodeo (jhrodeo.com) on Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer, for a little bit of ranch inspiration.
Brokeback Mountain, Django Unchained, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Dances With Wolves, Flicka, Shane, The Vanishing, Rocky IV, Starship Troopers, Star Trek
Yee haw, Cowboy!
No trip to Wyoming is complete without a trip to see the Cheyenne Gunslingers. You’ll feel like you’ve turned back the years as you watch energetic gunfights and enjoy western skits in a Wild West saloon in downtown Cheyenne. The family-friendly shows will have everyone on the edge of their seat and feeling like an extra in Young Guns. Visit cheyennegun slingers.com for their show schedule.
If you’d like to immerse yourself fully in cowboy culture couture with the right wardrobe, head to the Jackson Western Store where you’ll be able to pick up Stetsons, boots and fringed leather jackets in bulk. We’d recommend not wearing them all together or you’ll look like Woody out Toy Story.
Live Like A Cowboy
For the ultimate cowboy holiday, head to Paradise Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming. The ranch started life as a US Cavalry outpost and is now the perfect getaway destination, surrounded by endless acres of unspoilt country providing you with a chance to enjoy endless hours of living like a cowboy, riding, trout fishing and mountain camping all in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains.
Luxury: Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Surrounded by the breathtaking vista of Jackson’s Hole (a valley in the Teton Range), you’ll enjoy a rustic Wyoming break with all the luxury of a Four Seasons stay. The interiors all look and feel like a Ralph Lauren homeware campaign and you’ll probably feel at your most comfortable in a check shirt and some blue jeans, but that doesn’t mean the place is lacking in glamour. The spa offers a host of body rituals and facial treatments and the restaurant, The Peak, is known for serving up the best steak for miles. Rooms from Dh2,000-per-night.
Midrange: Rusty Parrot Lodge And Spa
Check into a rural retreat at the Rusty Parrot Lodge And Spa, with its homely service and luxe features, you’ll get a small town feel without going back to basics. This charming hotel has a secluded, cut-off-from reality feel, but its just a couple of blocks from the centre of Jackson (the main town in the northwest of the state), so the buzz of shops and restaurants is never far away. Dine in the hotel’s Wild Sage restaurant, widely recognised as one of the best in town, which serves up a menu bursting with local ingredients. Rooms
start at Dh700- per-night.
Budget: Snake River Lodge and Spa
Located on a mountain slope in Jackson Hole, this charming hotel is the perfect place to discover the west, as it’s situated just minutes away from the Grand Teton National Park and a stones throw from Yellowstone. In the winter you have world-class skiing on your doorstep, which is when the lodge-like feel of the hotel comes into its own – with a mountain chalet décor, think log fires and cosy nooks in which to relax with a hot drink and a good book when you’re not exploring the great outdoors.
Rooms start at Dh450-per-night.
The main airport in Wyoming is Cheyenne, which is the capital of the southeast of the state. Travel there on Delta (delta.com) via Atlanta to Denver. Change to a small local airline, like Great Lakes Airlines (greatlakesav.com), which will take you on to Cheyenne.