Wild West Travel: Laramie, Wyoming

Where Legends Still Roam the Plains

By Reagan Johnson

Nestled between the Snowy Range and the Laramie Range, you’ll find a gateway to the past and a portal to endless outdoor adventure in Laramie, Wyoming. With its deep historical roots and vibrant cultural scene, Laramie blends the spirit of the Old West with modern-day excitement, making it an ideal stop on any Wild West road trip.

As you step into Laramie, it’s as if you’re stepping back in time. This town, once a bustling railroad hub, now welcomes visitors with a blend of history and natural beauty. From the infamous Wyoming Territorial Prison, where outlaws like Butch Cassidy were held, to the scenic trails of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, Laramie promises an unforgettable journey.

Even today, the heart of Laramie beats with a pioneering spirit, evident in its well-preserved historic downtown, lively cultural festivals, and the University of Wyoming’s academic influence. Walk the streets and you’ll find a community that cherishes its past while embracing the future, offering a warm welcome to all who visit.

Why It’s Famous: Outlaws and Adventure

Laramie is perhaps best known for the Wyoming Territorial Prison, an institution that once housed some of the most notorious outlaws of the Old West. Built in 1872, this historic site now serves as an engaging museum, allowing visitors to explore the lives of its infamous inmates and the history of the region.

The Wyoming Territorial Prison once held notorious figures including Butch Cassidy himself, offering a window into the harsh realities of frontier justice. Visitors can walk through the prison’s restored cells and dining areas, gaining insight into the daily lives of the prisoners. The museum’s exhibits provide a detailed look at the prison’s history and the broader context of crime and punishment in the Old West.

Laramie’s storied past has also made it a popular setting for films and television series that seek to capture the essence of the American frontier. The town’s authentic Western atmosphere and historic sites have been featured in a number of hit productions—from films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Man from Laramie (1955) to the eponymous Laramie TV series (1955). Such a connection to Wild West lore makes Laramie a must-visit for cinephiles and classic Western fans.

What It’s Like Today: Modern-Day Frontier Town

Today, Laramie is a lively town that blends its historical charms with modern amenities. Downtown Laramie is a hub of activity, featuring historic buildings, colorful murals, boutique shops, and an array of dining options that reflect the town’s rugged character. The Laramie Mural Project adds a splash of color and creativity, showcasing the work of local artists and enhancing the town’s aesthetic appeal.

The University of Wyoming infuses the town with youthful energy, offering a range of educational and cultural experiences. The campus is home to the Geological Museum, where visitors can marvel at dinosaur skeletons and learn about the region’s natural history, and the Art Museum, which features an impressive collection of works from various periods and regions.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find their paradise just outside town in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland. Spanning nearly 2.9 million acres, these natural landscapes provide year-round opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and winter sports. The diverse terrain, from mountain ranges to vast grasslands, offers stunning scenic views and countless adventures for nature lovers.

Laramie’s spirited community life is further highlighted by its numerous cultural festivals and local events, which celebrate the town’s rich heritage and lively spirit. From the farmers’ markets to annual Jubilee Days, there’s always something happening that brings the community together and invites visitors to join in the fun.

Why You Should Go Now: Embrace Adventure

Laramie offers a unique mix of Wild West history, natural beauty, and high-spirited community life. Whether you’re exploring historic sites, hiking scenic trails, or enjoying the local culture, Laramie promises a memorable experience that will leave you yearning for more.

Get Moving Downtown

Downtown Laramie is known for its rich history, eclectic art, and diverse culture. Enjoy boutique shops, a range of dining options, and a cool cultural scene that reflects the town’s artistic soul.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

Just outside Laramie, the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland areas offer stunning natural landscapes perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping. Spanning nearly 2.9 million acres, visitors can enjoy scenic views, summer summits, and in the chilly months, renowned winter sports and recreation areas.

Experience Local Flavors and Events

Laramie Farmers Market

From June to September, the Downtown Farmers’ Market breathes new life into the Historic Railroad Depot every Friday afternoon. Enjoy live music, food trucks, and a friendly atmosphere as you shop for local produce, crafts, handmade jewelry, and artisanal cheeses.

Laramie Jubilee Days

A significant event celebrating Wyoming’s statehood, Laramie Jubilee Days promises a mix of Wild West charm, wholesome family fun, great music, and nightlife. Held each year in July (it will take place the 6th to 14th in 2024), the festivities include rodeos, street dances, and parades.

Local Game and Brews

Wyoming’s culinary scene is known for its use of local game. Think: elk steaks, bison burgers, or trout for a true taste of the region, and pair it with a local brew for the full Laramie experience.

Saddle Up and Go

Ready to experience the heart of the Wild West? Laramie offers a perfect blend of history, adventure, and modern charm. Here’s everything you need to plan your unforgettable journey.

Getting There

Laramie is easily accessible via I-80 and is about a two-hour drive from Denver. The Laramie Regional Airport offers limited flights for those flying in.

Best Time to Visit

Summer and early fall are ideal for enjoying outdoor activities and events like the Laramie Jubilee Days. Winter offers great opportunities for snow sports in the nearby national forests.

Must-Try Experiences

Explore the Wyoming Territorial Prison, hike in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, and enjoy local flavors at the farmers’ market or during Laramie Jubilee Days each July. Laramie is best experienced slowly, taking time to soak in its rich history and natural beauty.

Shop Laramie souvenirs from the INSP General Store and crank up the tunes with our Western Road Trip playlist on Spotify!