Laramie > Cheyenne

The standard milling around before the race startsLuckily yesterday’s Jackalope 5K race in Wyoming had a 10am start since the baby and I ended up leaving Denver Saturday morning instead of Friday night. And when we stopped between Cheyenne and Laramie the wind was so cold and biting that I kinda wanted to turn the car around and go to bed. We soldiered on. In my quest to run a race in all fifty states I intentionally chose a short one for Wyoming because I HATE running in the wind.  Luckily things weren’t so bad in down in Laramie, since the town is down between the Snowy Mountain range and the southern peaks of the Medicine Bow National Forest.


The High Plains Harriers (along other local groups) have been putting on the Jackalope 5K for the past twelve years. This year the Brendon Orr, a volunteer with Black Dog Animal Rescue, served as race director and participation shot through the roof with 249 participates (114 being the previous record). More importantly, $4,920 was raised for the Rescue. Dogs were invited to run also, which seemed to bring people out. One couple I spoke to were running the race with two kids in a jogging stroller and two dogs on leashes. They usually avoid races until the weather gets warmer but were enthusiastically participating today because the Black Dog Rescue is close to their heart. They’ve fostered many rescue dogs.

Racing dogs

For me personally, the race was fairly anticlimactic. I started in the back with the other strollers and slow-looking dogs, and worked my way up to the middle of the pack when things started clearing out. I was just getting in my grove when Aubrey started wailing and protesting being in her stroller. So I ended up walking across the finish line with an empty stroller and a pink bundle in my arms at just under forty minutes. It was whatever the opposite of a PR is. Oh well. The race was nice enough – all on paved trails, along a creek, under a highway, and through a park. Since it is still winter (that groundhog apparently lied to us) it wasn’t too picturesque, save for the mountains in the background.

I skipped the post-race festivities to feed Aubrey and then headed to downtown Laramie to find some food for myself. I got distracting wandering around downtown though downtown Laramie -lots of cute little shops, even if you don’t like antiquing. I was especially taken with The Second Story, an old hotel that has been converted into a book store/coffee house. Old hotel rooms have been converted into spaces for different types of books.  The children’s shop next store was pretty cute too. There were a lot of restaurants nearby, but eventually I decided on The Crowbar and Grill. All of these places are around Iverson and 1st and 2nd streets.

Book store

Toy store

The Crowbar and Grill

I really wanted to order the first three items on the appetizer menu: Pad Thai Fries, Poutine, and Fried Avocado. But in the end, I wasn’t quite brave enough for the fries and I’m a cheese curd purist so I went with the avocado. Delicious. I didn’t have one of their burgers (beef: picked up every morning at a local butcher) because I thought I’d have fabulous burger options in Cheyenne where I was staying the night.

Fried Avacado

I was incorrect. Cheyenne kinda sucked. I should have stayed in Laramie.

I’d decided to stay in Cheyenne because I got a good deal ($74 on a Saturday) on a nice hotel. And The Historic Plains Hotel was indeed nice, with a semi-historic looking lobby and large rooms. There is an attached restaurant, spa, and gift shop. A breakfast buffet is included (pancakes, sausage, eggs, fruit, etc.). As with most great hotels, the best thing about The Historic Plains Hotel was its central location.

Historic Plains Hotel

However, centrally located in Cheyenne doesn’t mean a whole lot. There’s nothing to do in this town. And I’m the kind of person that stay entertained in Victorville, Baldwin, Minot and Groom.  (Where, you ask? Exactly.)  My problem, of course, was in expectation. Sure, Cheyenne has a few museums (I visited the Wyoming State Museum – nothing to report), a capitol building, a train station, and lots of painted cowboy boots, but I was unimpressed.

Cheyenne Capitol

Train Depot, Cheyenne

Cheyenne of many

The historic downtown was the kind of place where you could walk across major cross streets without waiting for a light to change. When I asked a local where to go for dinner she enthusiastically directed me to either Chili’s or Buffalo Wild Wings out by the mall. Not that I mind either of those establishments, but I was hoping for some a bit more local. I ended up a Two Doors Down, a burger joint frequented by high-schoolers and young families. (So I fit in, having a six month old with me). It was fine, but nothing exceptional.

So Aubrey and I had a nice evening watching the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres from the comfort of our hotel room, which was actually quite fun.

If you have a chance to hang out in southeastern Wyoming, I definitely recommend Laramie over Cheyenne. Or better yet, go in the summer when all the ranches are open and you can stay in the mountains while learning how to rope and ride. Or if that’s not your thing, camping at the Vedauwoo Recreation Area also seems like it would be fun during the summer. This site between Laramie and Cheyenne (exit 329 off I-80) has tons of exposed rocks good for rock climbing and hiking.


Also in this area in Ames Monument, a pyramid built by the Union Pacific Railroad Company to honor the Ames brothers (they were railroad guys). I was going to check out until I realized that I’ve have to drive down nearly two miles of dirt road. I go through tires at alarming rates in the smoothest of road conditions, so I just took a picture of the sign and turned around.

Too far

Cheyenne, Historic Plains Hotel, Jackalope 5k, Laramie, running, The Crowbar and Grill, Vedauwoo

Jenna Vandenberg

Teacher, writer, runner, mom and wife.