Running nearly 1,063 miles from the junction with I-10 near Las Cruces, New Mexico to the junction with I-90 near Buffalo, Wyoming, Interstate 25 (I-25) is one of the coolest north-souths interstates that meets all of the east-west interstates that cross the Rocky Mountains. I-25 runs along the western border of the Great Plains, connecting some of the major cities in this region like Casper, Denver, and Albuquerque.
If you’re planning to make this journey, you might wonder if there are any roadside attractions along I-25 that are worth stopping for. After all, the 1,000-plus-mile distance of this interstate means you will need to stop a few times for gas – and might as well make a few other stops to experience the unique culture in this part of the country.
Here are the best roadside attractions along I-25 to help you plan your trip, from a giant tee-pee to a Titanic house. Let’s roll!
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Apsáalooke (Crow), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho), Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Jicarilla Apache, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), and Pueblos peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
The Best Roadside Attractions Along I-25
Before jumping into the list of roadside attractions along I-25 that are worth stopping to see, I thought it might be helpful to see a map. This post (and my site!) focuses just on the Great Plains, so it only covers those roadside attractions between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains.
Ready to learn more about each of these stops I recommend? Let’s hit the road!
Pompeys Pillar National Monument
Pompeys Pillar National Monument doesn’t get the advertisement it deserves. But I guarantee you it is one of the top must-see roadside attractions along I-25.
This sandstone butte combines nature, history, and views in one place. The pillar stands 150 feet above the Yellowstone River, offering nice vistas of the surrounding plains. below. Yet its most striking feature is that it bears the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: William Clark’s signature.
Visitors can see his signature and the date, July 25, 1806. It’s a bit of a climb to the carved stone and top of the pillar, but perfect if you want to stretch your legs.
Wyoming is home to the Teapot Rock, a particular sedimentary formation that once resembled a teapot.
While it no longer has a teapot shape – windstorms completely eroded the “handle” in 1930 and the “spout” in 1962 – the formation and surroundings are a cool place to stretch your legs and catch some fresh air after a long drive. You can google old pictures of the rock formation and compare it to the present shape. It’s pretty fascinating to see how geological formations evolve over time.
If you’re traveling with kids who are interested in science and astronomy, Casper Planetarium is one of the top tourist attractions along I-25.
Don’t be fooled by the small size, Casper Planetarium hosts impressive exhibits and projections of our galaxy that leave everyone in awe. Their shows tackle the most various topics, from ancient astronomers to how gravity affects our universe, and what an astronaut’s body experiences during a rocket launch.
Admission is very reasonable, and the quality of the presentation and knowledge of the staff is definitely worth every penny.
Tate Geological Museum
Whether you’re an adult or a kid, you can’t deny there’s something enticing about dinosaurs.
You can learn all about one of the Earth’s earliest inhabitants at the Tate Geological Museum. This wonderful museum houses a huge collection of fossils and minerals. You could spend hours learning about extinct animals without even beginning to explore the rocks and minerals!
If you don’t have much time to explore the venue, the full mammoth exhibit is definitely worth seeing even during a short visit.
Worlds Even Larger Jackalope
When it comes to quirky roadside attractions along I-25, Wyoming takes the first prize, being home to the world’s even larger Jackalope.
The jackalope is a mythical animal in North American folklore. While other states don’t feel a special attachment to the mythical creature, Wyoming loves it. So much so that the city of Douglas self-proclaimed itself as the Jackalope Capital of the World.
Douglas has erected numerous monuments to honor the jackalope, including the world’s largest, and former largest jackalope statues. The largest jackalope statue to date sits in front of the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center. During your visit, you can take pictures with the 15-foot-tall creature and even obtain a Jackalope hunting license to trap the animal during official Jackalope season.
Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
Photos courtesy of Cheyenne Botanic Garden via Facebook
Few roadside stops along I-25 are as beautiful as the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Much like dinosaurs and space, the world of plants is fascinating and the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to discover it.
This small venue features indoor and outdoor gardens. Inside, there were two main gardens – a tropical plants exhibit and a desert plants exhibit. Outdoors, there are lots of local plant varieties across the campus. It takes two tops to see all the exhibits.
Big Boy Steam Engine
Want to see a piece of American history? Then the Big Boy Steam Engine 4004 is a must-stop on your road trip.
Located in Cheyenne, the Big Boy Steam Engine is one of the world’s largest steam locomotives. This powerful coal-fired engine was designed to pull a 1.2-million-pound train over steep grades between Cheyenne, WY, and Ogden, Utah. It is one of the eight remaining Big Boys throughout the country.
This Big Boy is nestled in a beautiful park, with a lake, tennis courts, volleyball, and a kids playground. You can also walk around the lake and even have a picnic.
Cowgirls of the West Museum
Countless museums are devoted to telling the history of the cowboys of the Wild West. However, not much is said about their female counterparts, which is why the Cowgirls of the West Museum is one of the most unique roadside attractions along I-25.
The Cowgirls of the West Museum has collected documents relating to the cowgirls and their role in early America. While cowgirls weren’t recognized as such until the 19th Century, they worked side by side with men and performed ranch tasks. The museum’s exhibits feature excellent photographs and information about their contributions as well as beautiful costumes.
When driving through Colorado, don’t miss the chance of visiting the Butterfly Pavilion. This stunning insect zoo is as beautiful as it is educational. The highlight is the butterfly atrium, with paths lined with greenery and, of course, butterflies galore! There are so many different types flying around, and they gladly land on you.
The atrium’s front area has description boards with all the types of butterflies in their cocoons at all stages. The rest of the building has great educational installations, including other fish and bugs, like Rosie, the tarantula, horseshoe crabs, and shrimp and coral.
Garden of the Gods
The Garden of the Gods is a stunning park in Colorado Springs. Some road trippers love it so much that they’ve made it a stop every time they’re driving through the city.
The park is home to a truly unique scenery of towering red rock formations and it offers countless ways for visitors to explore them. You can drive through it, climb it, bike through it… it’s your choice.
If you have the time for a longer stop, I recommend hiking around the park. The hiking paths go throughout the property, allowing people of all skills and fitness levels to enjoy everything this destination has to offer.
Colorado Springs has another natural beauty for you to stretch your legs, the Seven Falls.
As the name suggests, Seven Falls is a set of seven cascading waterfalls. They’re located in a 1,400-foot-wall box canyon. The hike to the base of the falls is short and sweet, with beautiful flowers and a wooded landscape all around. The real challenge is the 224 stairs to get from the base to the top. It really gets your heart pumping!
Note: there is a tram inside the park for guests that are physically unable to walk up to the base of the falls.
Photos courtesy of Bishop Castle
Built by Jim Bishop, Bishop Castle has grown to become one of the top roadside attractions along I-25 and in Colorado.
The castle boasts intricate medieval architecture. While the structure is certainly fascinating, the castle’s history is even more. Bishop built the castle with his bare hands using only rocks. It took him 40 years to complete his project. The construction of the castle also caused Bishop endless battles with Washington authorities, who wanted to charge him for the rocks that he used – the rocks came from the National Forest surrounding his property.
Visitors can explore the castle for free and appreciate the legacy that Bishop has left the city of Rye.
New Mexico History Museum
History buffs, mark down Santa Fe as your next stop on your map. The New Mexico History Museum is the merging of old and new. In 2009, the museum, which is the state’s newest, was joined to the Palace of the Governors, which is one of the oldest occupied government buildings in the U.S.
Both venues house displays and exhibits that explore the history of the state, from indigenous people and Spanish colonizers to the Mexican settlers. The museum also offers lectures, hands-on workshops, and performances throughout the year. You can check out their website for more information.
Pretty cool stops, right? From Wyoming to New Mexico, there are some awesome places to get out and stretch your legs. Have any questions about these roadside attractions along I-25? Let me know in the comments!