Wyoming is big, wide-open, has beautifully varied scenery and is America’s most sparsely populated state. Despite the sparseness, Wyoming locals certainly band together to celebrate the 4th of July and do it American West style. What we’ll do here is focus on four of Wyoming’s most popular destinations—each with great RV parks in their respective areas.
Wyoming’s largest city (population hovering around 60,000—yep, only 60,000) and its capital, Cheyenne is a city that celebrates pretty much the entire month of July. We’re going to highlight what’s being held around the 4th of July first.
On the 4th, Cheyenne turns it up by turning back the clock at Frontier Park. It’s a wide-open festival of music, arts, and crafts. Folks walk around in period clothing to teach kids via song and reenactment about the development of Wyoming (as well as America), and later, an ice cream social is held at the Nagle Warren Mansion. Pace yourself and your kids—the day is capped off by a massive fireworks display.
This Independence Day celebration is an adjunct, so to speak, of Cheyenne Frontier Days and is advertised as such. However, Cheyenne Frontier Days, aka “The Daddy of ‘em all” isn’t until the end of the July. Those of us who are westerners know when you hear ‘Cheyenne Frontier Days’ you think nothing less than a massive no-holds-barred fest of everything you could possibly desire that screams American West. Cheyenne Frontier Days is ten days long (yes, you read that right—ten days) and runs at the end of July. This is merely a partial list of the activities contained within the ten-day span: nine days of PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) sanctioned rodeos, wild horse races, a huge carnival with plenty of music, art show and sale, military events including Fort D.A. Russell Days and Air Force Thunderbirds, food galore such as the Chuckwagon Cookoff and pancake breakfasts, four days of parades and so much more. We guarantee you will be exhausted, but a good exhausted, when Cheyenne Frontier Days closes the gates on its final day.
There are plenty of sights to see in and around Cheyenne including the Cheyenne Depot Museum, Big Boy Steam Engine, Curt Gowdy State Park and of course, the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.
For something a little more specific and infinitely quirky around the 4th of July, check out the 11th Annual PAC NW Trailer Rally. Held at the Terry Bison Ranch July 1-July 4 (do double-check the dates), this TCT (Tin Can Tourists) rally is specifically for those of you who have a vintage motorcoach…but they’re friendly and accept modern at the rally too. Make your reservation early for a fest of flea market vintage goods and bonfire plus a feast at the buffalo dinner.
You want to go to Cheyenne Frontier Days, yet want a rodeo fix for the 4th of July? Head to Cody. Cody, aka the east gateway to Yellowstone National Park, is all about rodeos. The city of Cody ramps it into hyper-drive during the Cody Stampede. ‘Stampede’ may have you thinking of a loose herd of cattle running with reckless abandon, plowing over campsites, as you run for cover. Not to worry, this is a stampede of wild cowboy-rockin’ festival fun.
This is year 99 of the Cody Stampede, and it promises to be a good one. The stampede has four PRCA sanctioned rodeos that include events like barrel-racing, saddle bronc-riding, tie down-roping, steer-wrestling, bull riding and, of course, a slew of rodeo clowns doing their best to distract bulls and not get thrown doing it. The Cody Stampede is the largest PRCA One Header Rodeo with a $400,000 purse. General admission is available on the evenings of July 1, 2, and 3; reserved seating is suggested for the 5PM show on Independence Day—which is followed by fireworks.
RODEO SIDE NOTE: If you’re a fan of bull riding (make that ‘watching’ bull riding—it’s not a sport for amateurs) add a ‘pre-day’ that’s a part of the stampede. Saturday, June 30th is the day earmarked for Cody/Yellowstone Xtreme Bulls pitting the best of the bulls against the best of the bull riders. Cinch your plans quick as tickets are on sale now.
The rodeo events are the main thrust of the Cody Stampede, but the festival includes many other events. Family fun activities include a Kiddies Parade on July 2, full-blown Stampede Parades July 3 and 4 and, for those of you who are physically active, there is a 5K/10K Walk/Run.
Feeling artsy? Part of the Cody Stampede is a three-day arts and craft fair, the Wild West Extravaganza. The ‘WWE’ includes artisans touting their western-themed arts and crafts, food vendors, and an outdoor music festival featuring regional acts playing in venues throughout the town. It’s great fun for the whole family and entrance is free.
Need a break from all the rowdy hoopla surrounding the Cody Stampede? Take a tour of Cody museums. Check out American West history inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, art in the Whitney Western Art Museum or the eccentric Cody Dug Up Gun Museum.
It’s a split celebration and Jackson Hole is an area, not a town, but it’s a delightful combination where family fun and spectacular scenery dominate.
The town of Jackson has a festival complete with a parade, rodeo, Independence Day fireworks and more. The day starts early with the annual Lions Club pancake breakfast quickly followed by the parade that marches from the Teton Country Fairgrounds and through town. Festivities continue with the Town Square Shootout, the longest running shooting and frontier justice reenactment in the country. Night brings on the rodeo and then fireworks in Jackson at the base of Snow King Mountain.
If you like your 4th of July festivities a bit less boisterous and more musically-inclined, head to Grand Teton Village in Jackson Hole. They hold a two-day festival beginning appropriately on July 3rd and is chock full of a wide variety of music (from country to cabaret), amazing food and fireworks. Two nights of fireworks light up the skies with the mountain range providing an amazing background. Entrance fee? Forget about it. It’s free.
Doing both Jackson and Grand Teton Village on the 4th of July may be problematic, so it’s best advised you pick a lane and stick with it.
There are other places in Wyoming that do have nice fireworks displays and festivals for the 4th (Casper, Laramie, and Lander come to mind) but in order for this article to not reach novel-length, let’s hit our final highlighted town: DuBois.
Just like the Grand Tetons, DuBois is French, but not pronounced by the locals with any sort of French accent for it’s known simply as ‘dow-boys’ – think ‘cowboys.’ DuBois is the heartbeat of Wind River Valley, a good 90 minutes from Jackson on the other side of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
What makes DuBois so fascinating is scenery. One side you have spectacular plateaus leading out to the plains; the other side you’re looking at a mountain range. In fact, DuBois has three mountain-creation processes in one area—volcanic, tectonic, and glacial. If you’re fortunate you may be able to see a bighorn sheep.
But back to Independence Day. It has a truly small-town feel, where all the locals come out to pitch in as well as celebrate. Very family friendly, there are kid’s games, a rubber ducky race, ice cream social, horse-drawn carriages and, of course, a parade and fireworks.
They also have a marauding firehose. It’s best you ask the chamber of commerce what they mean in terms of a marauding firehose. Safe to say it is not some random out-of-control firehose knocking parade participants or attendees asunder.
That’s it for our focus on Wyoming and Independence Day festivities. If you have a Wyoming favorite place to celebrate our nation’s birthday, drop us a comment.