The eastern approach into Cheyenne, dropping into a wide dip in the plains, leaves enduring memories for most travellers. With the snow-crested Rockies looming in the distance and short, sun-bleached grass encircling the town, the sky appears gargantuan, dwarfing the city's outlying neighbourhoods. Even a quick exploration reveals a diverse community shaped by railroads, state politics, and even nuclear arms. Union Pacific's sprawling yards and fine old terminus now mark the eastern edge of downtown, while to the west, the city's longstanding military installation was expanded in 1957 to house the first US intercontinental ballistic missile base.
Cowboy culture is big here, too, as the ranchwear stores and honky-tonks dotted around town attest. Sixteenth Street, or Lincolnway, is the retail and entertainment heart of Cheyenne, while the Wyoming State Museum, 2301 Central Ave, takes a sober look at Wild West history (May– Oct Mon– Sat 9am–4.30pm; Nov– April Mon– Fri 9am–4.30pm, Sat 10am–2pm; free; Tel:307/777-7022, Web: www.wyomuseum.state.wy.us ). The Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, five minutes' drive from downtown at 4610 Carey Ave (Mon– Fri 8.30am–5.30pm, Sat & Sun 9am–5pm; $7; Tel:307/778-7290, Web: www.oldwestmuseum.org ), is more lighthearted, telling how the railroad came to town, with some great old engines and well-presented temporary exhibits.