From Railroads to Rodeos: 16 Can’t-Miss Museums in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Inside the Frontier Days Museum in Cheyenne, WY

With its rich history and cowboy culture, it’s no surprise that Cheyenne is brimming with excellent museums. With interactive exhibits and extensive collections that cover everything from railroads to rodeos, you won’t want to miss these marvelous museums in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Tucked into the southeast corner of Wyoming, Cheyenne is the state’s capital city and largest urban area. It was in Cheyenne that women were first granted full voting rights more than 150 years ago, and it is this town that brings more than 500,000 people together each July for the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration.” From cowgirls to railroads and from military memorabilia to big boots, Cheyenne has a museum for all interests.

Sage Advice: Explore more of Cheyenne with this interactive scavenger hunt.


Have You Visited Cheyenne, Wyoming?

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1. Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center

Although it’s technically a rest stop, the Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center is a great first stop when visiting Cheyenne. Part museum and part playground, you’ll find the Welcome Center near mile marker 4 on I-25, the interstate that connects Cheyenne with Denver. Not only can you check out a full-size mastodon skeleton, but you can also gather maps, brochures, and other information to help you plan your visit to Wyoming’s capital city.

An exhibit at the Cheyenne Depot Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming

2. Cheyenne Depot Museum

Housed in the historic and beautifully restored Union Pacific Railroad Depot, the  Cheyenne Depot Museum contains exhibits that detail how the railroad shaped the Wild West. Explore restored railroad cars and see the role that the depot played in Cheyenne’s growth. On the second floor, you’ll find an amazing collection of train models and great views of the active railway in the museum’s backyard. 

Sage Advice: The Cheyenne Depot is where visitors can board the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley. This 90-minute tour aboard a comfortable red trolley bus is a great way to kick off your trip to Cheyenne as a knowledgeable guide takes you through town, calling out historic buildings and other points of interest while sharing the town’s history. 

3. Historic Governors’ Mansion

The Historic Governors’ Mansion is an elegantly restored, two-story, red brick home that served as the residence of Wyoming’s governors from 1905 to 1976. It’s filled with original furnishings and wonderful artifacts, giving visitors a glimpse into the lives of Wyoming’s governors and their families. Guided tours are available, and the mansion’s gardens are a lovely spot to relax and take in the scenery. 

Stagecoach at the Old Frontier Days Museum

4. Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum

Billed as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration,” the city has hosted Cheyenne Frontier Days annually since 1897. For 10 days at the end of July, the town of 65,000 residents welcomes more than half a million visitors who watch rodeo events, attend concerts, and participate in other celebrations. But you can experience the excitement and spirit of the event at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum any time of year. The museum’s permanent exhibits focus on cowboy and ranching culture as well as collections of carriages that date to the 1800s. 

5. Nelson Museum Of The West

With a focus on Native American culture, cowboy life, military history, and more, the Nelson Museum of the West draws visitors into the rich history of the American West. This hidden gem displays more than 6,000 historic artifacts, including antique firearms, saddles, and other cowboy gear. It also houses an impressive collection of Native American artifacts, including beadwork, pottery, and clothing. The Nelson is open seasonally, so double check that it is open before you go.

Cowgirls of the West Museum - Matthew Idler via Visit Cheyenne
Photo Credit: Matthew Idler via Visit Cheyenne

6. Cowgirls Of The West Museum

With its progressive voting rights, it should be no surprise that Cheyenne has dedicated a museum to the women who helped shape its history. The Cowgirls of the West Museum is a small but fascinating museum that highlights the role of women in ranching, rodeo, and other western pursuits, with memorabilia, clothing, and stories of the courageous cowgirls who played a vital role in the Western frontier.

Sage Advice: Like the Nelson Museum, the Cowgirls of the West Museum is also closed during the winter months.

Related Article: 100+ Inspirational Cowgirl Quotes for Strong Women

7. Wyoming State Museum

The Wyoming State Museum is a great place to learn about the Cowboy State’s history and culture. The museum exhibits everything from Wyoming’s geology and wildlife to its Native American heritage and pioneer history. There is also a children’s area with hands-on exhibits. And special events and lectures are held at the museum throughout the year.

8. Wyoming State Capitol

While the word “museum” isn’t in its name, the Wyoming State Capitol is a National Historic Landmark. Take a free tour to learn more about one of history’s greatest suffrage victories and to learn more about this architectural masterpiece that was completed in 1890. 

Sage Advice: Although it’s not concentrated in an art museum, Cheyenne is full of beautiful public art. Look for 8-foot-tall cowboy boots, impressive murals, and bronze sculptures throughout the Cheyenne Depot Plaza and Downtown Cheyenne. One of my favorites is the Women’s Suffrage mural on the west side of the building at 218 W. 17th Street, the site where the bill was passed in 1869. The Visit Cheyenne Art Tour app for Android or Apple will help you locate specific pieces and tell you more about the art and artist.

Quebec 01 Missile Facility
Photo Credit: Visit Cheyenne

9. Quebec 01 Missile Alert Facility

The Quebec 01 Missile Alert Facility is a Cold War-era missile silo that has been preserved as a museum. It’s the only accessible Peacekeeper Missile Alert Facility left in the world, and it details the Cold War history of the late 20th century. The facility,  operational from 1963 to 1986, was one of several missile silos in the area on high alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Visitors can take a guided tour of the facility and see the missile launch control room and other areas.

A display at Messenger's Old West Museum in Cheyenne, WY
Photo Credit: Matthew Idler via Visit Cheyenne

10. Messenger’s Old West Museum

Located at Cheyenne Storage at the intersection of E. 7th St and Crook Ave, the Messenger Museum is a treasure trove of western artifacts and memorabilia. As you step through the doors and back to a time without indoor plumbing or electricity, you’ll find yourself surrounded by everyday items of that era, from antique firearms to unique carriages and wagons. My favorite is the yellow carriage once used to drive visitors through Yellowstone National Park.

11. Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

Although it’s not a traditional museum, the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens provide an opportunity to soak up some sunshine while learning about a variety of plants, from native species to those from around the world. Spread over nine acres, it’s a beautiful oasis filled with a diverse array of plants and flowers in stunning landscapes that includes a children’s village and a serene conservatory.

12. Military Memorial Museum

The Military Memorial Museum honors the service and sacrifices of Wyoming’s military members. It includes an extensive collection of uniforms used by the Air Service, Air Corps, and Air Force from 1912 to the present day as well as artifacts from the U.S. Cavalry, including saddles and firearms.

13. NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) offers a unique experience at their Wyoming Supercomputing Center. Schedule a virtual or in-person tour, or check out the visitor center’s exhibits about weather, climate, and supercomputing.

14. Tom Horn Exhibits

If you’re not from Cheyenne, you may not be familiar with Tom Horn. (I didn’t know anything about him until my Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley tour.) Horn was a cowboy, deputy sheriff, and hired killer convicted of murdering Willie Nickell, the young son of a Wyoming sheep rancher. Although Tom Horn was ultimately hanged for Willie’s death, some believe he was wrongfully convicted. History buffs will be immersed in the Tom Horn Exhibits, located in the historic Laramie County Courthouse at 19th Street and Carey Avenue, which include artifacts related to Horn’s life and trial, including information on the controversy surrounding his conviction.

F.E. Warren Air Force Base Museum - Matthew Idler via Visit Cheyenne
Photo Credit: Matthew Idler via Visit Cheyenne

15. F. E. Warren Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and Heritage Museum

The Warren Heritage Museum is a military museum located just west of Cheyenne at the F. E. Warren Air Force Base, the oldest continuously active military installation within the Air Force. The museum is housed in a historic late-19th-century building and details the history of the base, from a cavalry post to the home of the 90th Missile Wing.

16. Wyoming National Guard Museum

Also located at the Warren AFB is the Wyoming National Guard Museum, which honors the citizen soldiers who have served in the National Guard since 1870. In addition to exhibits that detail the Guard’s role in state and national emergencies, the museum is home to a T-33 jet trainer and several historic vehicles and artillery pieces.

Have You Visited Any Museums in Cheyenne, Wyoming?

What museum did you like most? Are there any museums missing from my list? Any additional tips to pass along to someone planning a visit to Cheyenne? Share your experiences in the comments section below.


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