Discover the Old West in Laramie
Transport yourself back into the old west as you explore Laramie, Wyoming. Visit the prison that once held Butch Cassidy, get up close with a historic train, and more!
This itinerary has been created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.
Laramie Plains Museum
First up on our tour is the Laramie Plains Museum, located in the historic Ivinson Mansion. The Ivinson Mansion was built in 1893 by English immigrants Edward and Jane Ivinson and was regarded as the most significant home in the city. After their passing, the 9,000 square foot home became a boarding school for girls. The home has been beautifully restored and now holds a treasure trove of Laramie and Wyoming History – including textiles and clothing, an extensive collection of photographs, memorabilia from Laramie’s early ranching and farming days, and more!
Historic Laramie Train Depot
An old west adventure would be incomplete without a visit to the train depot! Laramie’s historic depot was once a stop on the Union Pacific Railroad. The original building burned down in 1917 and was rebuilt in 1924. The Depot is home to a free interactive railroad museum, where you can get a taste of what it was like to lay down the tracks. Check out the park outside, which is home to a historic snow train setup featuring a plow, engine, bunk car, and caboose!
Downtown Walking Tour
Take advantage of the gorgeous summer weather and spend your afternoon on a walking tour exploring Historic Downtown Laramie. The tour begins at the Train Depot, so you’re already on your way! You’ll learn about the places where Laramie’s first citizens and outlaws lived and worked, and how they made their mark on the town, including why Laramie was known as a “hell-on-wheels” town. Many of the historic buildings are now occupied by coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, and taverns. Guided walking and bike tours are typically offered during the summer months!
Wyoming Territorial Prison Site
After you’re fueled up for another day of exploring, head out to Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. The Prison was first a U.S. Penitentiary, built in 1872 and went on to become Wyoming’s first State Penitentiary before being transferred to the University. Some of the West’s most famous outlaws were incarcerated here, including the infamous Butch Cassidy. Other famous residents included cattle thieves and murderers – some report that a few of their spirits remain and haunt the building!
You’ll get an interactive look at what life was like for prison residents, including the Prison Industries Building, where you’ll encounter “prisoners” busy at work crafting brooms. If these walls could talk, they would have incredible stories of the Old West and all of the dastardly outlaws that passed through!
Fort Sanders was established in 1866 to protect travelers on the nearby Overland Trail from attacks by outlaws and bandits. The fort housed six companies of cavalry and infantry, including about 90 horses, and was involved in numerous skirmishes with Native American tribes. Located just outside the city, Fort Sanders also protected the settlers, railroad crews, and other military interests in the area.
By the late 1870s, the Union Pacific Railroad was completed. Traffic on the emigrant trails slowed, and settler hostilities with local tribes waned. In May 1882, the fort was abandoned. Today, only two structures remain – the powder house and the guardhouse. Watch for the waymarker along Highway 287! For lunch, stop by Cavalryman Steakhouse (located on the fort’s former parade grounds) and peek at their period images that tell the story of Laramie’s earliest days.
The Old Buckhorn Bar
The Old Buckhorn Bar is Laramie’s oldest watering hole, established in 1900. The bar has seen over a century of lively evenings and characters from all over the world. On one notable night, one of the regulars flew into a fit of rage and pulled his pistol! If you look closely, you can still see evidence of his final shot, which landed in the mirror behind the bar. If you’re lucky, you might catch an evening of live music and lively dancing – don’t forget your cowboy boots!
Wyoming Women’s History House
It goes without saying that women in the Old West were a special type – full of grit and determination. Did you know that Wyoming was the first state to give women and men fully equal voting rights? In 1870, Louisa Swain became the first woman to vote in Wyoming. At the Wyoming Women’s History House, you’ll learn more about Wyoming’s notable changemakers and why Wyoming is called the Equality State.
University of Wyoming
Before you wrap up your time in Laramie, take some time to tour the University of Wyoming’s beautiful campus. On a one-mile walking tour, you’ll visit many of the campus’ historic buildings, almost all of which remain in use today. The University has been around nearly as long as Laramie itself, operating with just five faculty members and 42 students at its inception in 1886. Today, the state’s only four-year university is home to more than 14,000 students from around the world.