The central Wyoming city of Casper may be a little lesser known, but it is home to some of the best bucket list experiences. From spectacular outdoor activities high up in the Casper Mountains to historical museums and vibrant local shopping, there is something to see and experience for everyone. And that’s why it makes for the perfect starting point for an epic road trip to Yellowstone National Park—one of the best US National Parks!
This petite-sized city was where my Wyoming road trip started—beginning in Casper making a pitstop in Meeteetse, then on to Cody, and finally to Yellowstone NP (the perfect route!). PS: Road trips through the sparse lands of Wyoming are perfect ways to stay safe and socially distanced.
These top things to do in Casper will get you revved up for the rest of the trip through the Cowboy State.
Casper Wyoming Bucket List: Best Attractions & Things to Do
1. Indulge in Breakfast
Grabbing a morning granola bar on the run is not something the people in Casper generally do. Instead, they sit down and enjoy a hearty breakfast, and there are plenty of places around to have one.
I was able to dig in on a tasty Chile Relleno breakfast at Eggington’s, served with their house-made green chili sauce, beans, and cheesy hash browns. Doesn’t that sound delicious? And do not miss getting a ginormous cinnamon roll at Sherrie’s Place-it was the best one I have EVER had! For something on the “healthier” side, you can gorge on some avocado toast at the Coffee Lab inside Grant Street Grocery.
2. Day Trip to Ayres Natural Bridge
Ayres Natural Bridge is one of the oldest tourist spots in Wyoming. As you may have guessed, the bridge was naturally formed due to the rocks giving away because of the water coming from LaPrele Creek (which you will also see there).
You’ll have plenty of chances to take scenic photos of the bridge from different perspectives, as well as the surrounding scenery, so be sure to get your cameras ready! There is also a trail that leads to the top of the Ayres Natural Bridge, which gives you a better view of the landscape.
Aside from the bridge itself, you will also see an old power plant by the entrance.
3. See Hell’s Half Acre
If you want to see something out-of-this-world, check out Hell’s Half Acre, which is 40-miles west of Casper, Wyoming. It gives off an otherworldly feel with its deep ravines, jagged rock formations, and steep slopes.
Though Hell’s Half Acre has been fenced off from the public since 2005, you can still have a great view of the landscape from just outside the fence. If you have a drone with you, and permission to use it, then you are in luck! You can fly it over and have a stunning view (and footage) of Hell’s Half Acre from above!
A fun fact about Hell’s Half Acre is that the location was used to shoot a fictional planet in the movie Starship Troopers.
4. Delve Into the Past at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
Experience and learn the emigrants’ way of life back in the day here in the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center! The center will take you through four historic trails: Oregon, Mormon, California, and The Pony Express.
And take note, this is not just your regular historical museum. Aside from the fascinating displays, there are many hands-on and interpretive activities on each of the four exhibits that let you experience how things were back then. Some of these include riding in a “moving” wagon with a virtual movie inside or “pulling” a cart full of goods on a treadmill while keeping a steady pace.
5. Ride the Oregon Trail in a Wagon
The Oregon Trail was a 2,000-mile stretch that hundreds of thousands of emigrants used to head west searching for the American dream. And I got a tiny taste of their journey by riding in a historic covered wagon through a portion of the Casper, Wyoming trail.
On the ride with Historic Trails West, I got to experience the old west and dusty trails as the pioneers did! Though after only an hour, I wondered how they could last the multiple-month trip!
After the ride, they cooked us up a dutch oven lunch complete with peach cobbler, green beans with bacon, potatoes, steak (of course), and the best fresh-baked biscuits EVER!
PS: for an extra bucket list experience, you can also spend the night in a teepee!
6. Visit Independence Rock
Located 60 miles southwest of Casper in Natrona County, Wyoming, Independence Rock is a large dome-shaped granite rock that served as a landmark for emigrants during the 19th century. You’ll see thousands of names carved all around Independence Rock by the emigrants as a means of celebrating their passing on the landmark.
Today, you’ll find footpaths that go around the base of the rock, an interpretive exhibit that shows its history and its significance with the emigrants, and of course, the writings of the emigrants around the landmark’s granite face.
Though you cannot write your name down on this magnificent rock like what they did before, you can still celebrate your visit in your own way by ticking it off your bucket list!
7. Hike Casper Mountain
What better way to reconnect and fall in love with nature than to go on a hike in Casper Mountain? Located just a couple of miles south of Casper, this magnificent mountain is a nature haven with scenic landscapes, different activities like hiking, and diverse wildlife.
You’ll have tons of hikes in Casper Mountain, and some of the best ones are Bridle Trail (which will take you to Split Rock, another must-go-to place!), Eadsville Trail (one of the best hikes for families) and Squaw Creek Trail (if you have dogs with you).
As a bonus, halfway across Casper Mountain Road, keep your eyes peeled for Lookout Point, one of the seven wonders of Casper! You’ll know when you are there when you see a wide spot on the side of the road for you to park over. The view of Casper from Lookout Point is simply breathtaking!
8. Explore Tate Geological Museum
Have a blast from the past at Tate Geological Museum in Casper College Museum! You’ll encounter a different kind of history here: in the form of fossils, rocks, and minerals! You’ll even see a life-size statue of a T. Rex just outside the museum to give you a glimpse of what to expect inside.
With a collection of over 6000 fossil and mineral specimens, you’ll be amazed for hours on end, and a definite must-see in your trip here in Casper. Not to mention the brilliant staff who will give educational bits of info for anything and everything in the museum.
9. Get Decked Out in Western Wear at Lou Taubert’s
If you are looking to dress and go around the city cowboy style, then Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters has got you covered! Being in the western clothing business since the 1919s is a testament to how excellent their products and services are (which is no easy feat, by the way).
You’ll have plenty of things to choose from on the nine floors of their store. From authentic cowboy hats to boots to even saddles, name it, they have it. There is something for everyone, so you’ll never have to worry about looking for that perfect western gift or souvenir to take with you.
If nothing else, just go and try on a pair of cute cowboy boots!
10. Marvel at Fremont Canyon
You will not believe your eyes once you have your sights at the marvelous Fremont Canyon. With its beautiful rock walls on both sides of the North Platte River and diverse species of (rare) plants and animals, it’s no wonder Fremont Canyon is one of Wyoming’s hidden gems.
Be sure to have your cameras and binoculars ready for those scenic photos and a better sightseeing experience (the best view is from the bridge!). There are also plenty of activities here, including rock climbing, hiking, and even mountain biking!
Since the area is home to rare plants and animals, it is usually only open to guided activities.
11. Stop at Pathfinder Dam
Pathfinder Dam is one of the brilliant engineering feats that stood the test of time in Casper, Wyoming. With its impressive height (65 meters) and surrounding landscape, this is a view that you would not want to miss! As a bonus, you can also see the Pathfinder Reservoir on the other side of the dam.
You can take a walk on the pathways that span the top of Pathfinder Dam to have an even better look at your surroundings, so get ready to have those pictures taken! You can also view exhibits at the Pathfinder Interpretive Center, located near the dam.
12. Ogle Unique Works of Art
There is no shortage of great artists and works of art in Casper, which is why a visit to some of the best museums and galleries in the city is a must.
Nicolaysen Art Museum features art from modern times (20th to 21st century). For a taste of local Wyoming art, then definitely check out Art 321. As for Scarlow’s Gallery, Art & Coffee, you’ll see a showcase of art from regional and national artists. And as you may have guessed from the name, you get to enjoy the masterpieces while sipping some coffee!
Aside from viewing the unique artworks, each place also has workshops available to learn and discover your inner artist.
13. Eat Lots of Meat: Steaks, Burgers, Ribs & Chops
Being in the Cowboy State, there will be PLENTY of meat-centric restaurants for you to dine in!
Silver Fox Steakhouse is the most recommended by the locals and a definite must-try with their Bacon Knots, Chicken Fried Steak, and Ribeye, to name a few of their mouthwatering dishes! I can also vouch for FireRock Steakhouse (don’t miss their steak tartare and finish up your meal with a Nutella brownie that is still gooey in the middle!).
For burgers, you will not be disappointed with the Branding Iron! Their burger patties are 100% Wyoming Black Angus served with your choice of sides. As for “the best Baby back ribs in the West”, you can head over to Rib & Chop House with their Fulton Street Ribs or Whole Rack Ribs!
14. Shop ’til You Drop in Downtown Casper
If no trip is complete unless you buy yourself a little something special, then you don’t want to miss an afternoon of shopping in Downtown Casper. This place is a haven to unique and diverse shops that will leave you carrying more bags home than you came with.
Some of the shops I loved were:
- Mustard Seed: Casper’s best destination for unique gifts—everything from homegoods to clothing. I bought the cutest earrings!
- Floral Rhino: This shop frequently has new merchandise (Jewelry, apparel, home decor, gifts, etc.), so you’ll have something to look forward to each time!
- Cadillac Cowgirl: From trendy hats to stylish boots to everything else in between (with an added touch of western flair), you’ll find it here!
- WyoMade Apparel & Crafts Goods: This is an authentic Wyoming-branded shop ranging from Myoming (yup, “My”) apparel to stickers and pint glasses.
- Donells Candies: If it’s chocolates or ice cream you’re looking for, or another sweet treat, they’ll surely have it. And best of all, it’s all homemade!
- Crave Candy, Soda, & Cigars Store: Are you missing that candy or soda from your childhood? They have a huge collection of vintage treats that will have you reminiscing.
15. Get Cocktails at Backwards Distillery
Casper, Wyoming ain’t all steakhouses, historical attractions and open land…they also have some unexpected trendy spots—like Backwards Distillery.
They make their own grain-to-bottle vodka, gin, rum, moonshine and whiskey, then concoct cocktails with circus names (like the Big Top and Freakshow). It’s not only the cocktails that take on a circus name, their entire place has that vibe. From the striped wallpaper to the red velvet couches, you’ll feel like you’re the ringleader under the tent.
PS: if you go to their website you can get the recipes for these cocktails and many more!
16. See Stars at the Casper Planetarium
The best views are not just limited to the ones of cityscapes from mountaintops, but also in the vast expansiveness of space, and that is where Casper Planetarium will take you.
You’ll be able to see a full-dome animated show of the night sky, with an added feature of drawing up the constellations on the part of the sky you are viewing (including their names!).
Aside from the shows, you can also view authentic items from NASA’s space shuttle program, experience how a meteorite weighs, and also get yourself some science-themed stuff in their gift shop.
17. Visit Fort Caspar Museum
Fort Caspar Museum showcases the first 100 years of Central Wyoming. You will learn a lot about the region (through interactive videos and boards), from the Plains Indians, the trails, as well as significant moments in the city’s history. You will also see the historical artifacts that made it to this day.
It will then take you outside, where you will see a recreation of the historical moments in Casper. They also feature reconstructed buildings, a replica of the Mormon ferry used from 1847 to 1849, and a portion of the Guinard Bridge.
With a rich local history, delectable cuisines, and plenty of fun things to do, I definitely wasn’t disappointed that my journey to Yellowstone country started in Casper.
Essential Tip Box
Getting There: Casper–Natrona County International Airport is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to the city center, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, public bus, Uber, Lyft or take a taxi.
Where to Stay in Casper Wyoming: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in Candlewood Suites Casper, an IHG Hotel is a great choice in Casper. For something on the less expensive side, try Best Western PLUS Casper Inn & Suites or the Residence Inn by Marriott Casper (that’s where I stayed!). Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Renting a car is the best way to get around Casper and RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis, Lyft and Uber are available all over the city. For a more budget friendly option, you can take the public bus.
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance
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