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Casper, Wyo.: Wild West Weekender

Find art walks, a planetarium, cowboy gear, and a Napoletana pizzeria in a historic town in Wyoming. 

picture sculpture in the lobby of the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyoming
Photo caption
Even the Nicolaysen Art Museum’s lobby in Casper, Wyo., exhibits fine art.

 

Venture off I-25 between Billings, Mont., and Denver to find Casper’s preserved riverfront parkway and historic downtown.

  • The festival that’s expected to temporarily double Casper’s population of 60,000 isn’t until August 2017, when a total eclipse of the sun passes right over the city. In the meantime, the Casper Planetarium hosts guided star tours and shows movies such as From Earth to the Universe in its dome theater.
  • Among some 20 attractions in downtown’s First Thursday Art Walks are classic galleries to visit, plus henna tattoos, belly dancing, beer tasting, and a scavenger hunt.
  • A section of the Platte River Parkway borders downtown, but most of its 11 miles and amenities, including a disc golf course and a new glow-in-the-dark labyrinth, are on the opposite side of the North Platte River. Cross on the pedestrian bridge—one of several—just west of the neighborhood.
  • At Racca’s, slated to open in April, opt for the Piemonte pizza with mozzarella, Pecorino Sardo truffle spread, mushrooms, and prosciutto. Wyoming’s only certified Napoletana pizzeria shares a nearly 100-year-old former fruit warehouse with Art 321, the gallery of the Casper Artists’ Guild.
  • The world-class Nicolaysen Art Museum houses plenty of contemporary Western work, but also features pieces by Calder, Dalí, Matisse, Miró, Picasso, and Toulouse-Lautrec. The show European Masters from the Permanent Collection hangs indefinitely.
  • Cinnamon rolls are so huge they come skewered with a steak knife at Sherrie’s Place. Save room for the chicken-fried steak with biscuits, gravy, and a mix of sides. Then waddle next door to the Haven gallery to admire Shawn Rivett’s photography and antler sculptures.
  • Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters stocks some 10,000 pairs of cowboy boots, in widths from AAA to EEEEE, along with saddles, spurs, art, hats, and clothing on nine floors.
  • Each June, the College National Finals Rodeo takes over the Casper Events Center. Most of the year, the venue books shows by such acts as country music superstar Carrie Underwood, who performs May 10.

Photography by Lynn Donaldson

 

This article was first published in Spring 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.