As Wyoming’s second-largest city, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Casper has more to offer than you might guess. Located along Interstate 25, many travelers pass through Casper as they cross out of the Great Plains and head toward Yellowstone National Park, the Rocky Mountains, or down to the capital city of Cheyenne. But if you’re up for exploring and want to make a stop, here are some of the top things to do in Casper during your time.
From natural wonders – Ayres Natural Bridge! Independence Rock! Hell’s Half Acre! – to cultural sights and events like the Casper Balloon Festival and Fort Laramie, Casper has a ton to offer.
Even if your primary destination is one of those I already mentioned, plan on overnight or an extra day in Casper. With all these things to do in Casper, it’ll be time well spent exploring another corner of the incredible Great Plains region.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Apsaalooké (Crow), Arapaho, Cheyenne, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ 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.
This post was originally published in May 2021, and was updated most recently in May 2023.
1. Explore Ayres Natural Bridge
Among the most remarkable places and top things to do in Casper is the Ayres Natural Bridge. Its location is on Natural Bridge Rd in Douglas. Ayres Natural Bridge is one of Wyoming’s most popular tourist attractions and among only three natural bridges in the USA with water beneath. It also has a scenic park ideal for unwinding and outdoor recreation, having accessible hiking paths, picnic areas, fishing spots, etc.
2. Attend the Casper Balloon Roundup
When you want an out-of-this-world experience, then a trip on the Casper Balloon Roundup is among the great things to do in Casper. This particular hot air balloon typically floats visitors over the city during summer.
There is also a weekend-long festival that attracts balloonists from all over the USA;it occurs each year in late June. For spectacular views of the floating balloons over the city, stop by the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in the morning after the balloons launch.
3. Hike Casper Mountain
Standing at 8,130 feet above sea level, Casper Mountain in Wyoming is a scenic destination worth visiting. This particular mountain strategically overlooks the city, and a visit to this place will give you one of the best experiences in Casper that is truly unforgettable.
Adventures and outdoor enthusiasts will most definitely have a fantastic time at this serene location. There are several public parks, camping spots, accessible hiking trails, and not forgetting a folk museum ideal for history buffs.
4. Visit Casper Planetarium
The Casper Planetarium is an excellent place to learn about the night sky. The Planetarium offers educative programs that use top-notch technology that allows you to have a full-dome view of celestial wonders. Lastly, this incredible place showcases the universe in HD, and visitors are allowed to attend educational events like the laser show that talks about various constellations.
5. Spot CCC Park Architecture
Among the exciting things to do in Casper is to visit the CCC Park Architecture at Guernsey State Park. This park has a unique 1930’s architecture with great samples of Civilian Conservation Corps work (CCC). This destination situated in the Guernsey State Park is a remarkable place for history buffs. The CCC Park Architecture also features a spectacular Castle that leads to an observatory area with a fabulous park view.
6. Explore Downtown Casper
If you’re not sure of what to do in Casper, then you might want to consider making a stop in Downtown Casper. Past meets the present in the city center, where you’ll find historic buildings modernized to blend in with the 21st-century housing structure.
There are also great restaurants that serve delicious foods, coffee shops, and various unique shops too. In other words, this popular destination is ideal for those who want to discover more about Casper’s history and culture and see how locals live here.
7. Visit Fort Caspar Museum
History buffs are without a doubt going to find this specific destination worthwhile. Visiting Fort Caspar Museum – not a typo – should be among your top activities in Casper. This museum is an 1865 military reconstructed post.
Initially, Fort Caspar acted as the final river crossing of the California, Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express trails. Fort Caspar Museum showcases the history of the natives, the energy industry, the frontier army, and not forgetting a display of a recreated Mormon ferry. Behind this remarkable structure is a fort, with all its initial buildings reconstructed.
8. Visit Fort Laramie
Fort Laramie is another remarkable National Historic Site in Casper with several scenic attractions, especially for history lovers. The Fort was initially established in 1834 as a trading location for fur, and it, later on, became the most significant fully-equipped military post on the Northern Plains. Its primary function was to protect settlers who moved west and was effective until 1890.
Visiting Fort Laramie is one of the top things to do in Casper if you want to learn about Westward Expansion history and also witness thrilling reenactments.
9. Explore Hell’s Half Acre
Despite its name, Hell’s Half Acre is one of the best spots to visit near Casper. This one-of-a-kind geologic oddity has a hilly gorge that’s horseshoe-shaped. It also drops away from a flat plain to the east along Highway 20.
Hell’s Half Acre is a 150-foot-deep gorge that covers 320 acres that spread across the south. This particular destination is ideal for sightseeing and getting a sense of the wildness of this region. Can you imagine what the immigrants thought when they reached this site? Perhaps that’s how it earned its moniker!
10. Independence Rock
This spectacular natural wonder is another excellent spot worth exploring – and interesting to fans of history too.
Independence Rock is a giant granite that is 128 feet high,1900 feet long, and 700 feet wide, indeed a natural phenomenon. Named after the 1830 fur traders’ celebration, this particular rock is among the most famous landmarks along the Oregon Trail. History buffs also get to visit the “Great Register of the Desert,” a spot along the trail having over 5000 early emigrant names carved on this special boulder.
11. Kayak the Fremont Canyon
Among the favorite active things to do in Casper is to rent a kayak and explore the waterways of Fremont Canyon.
Located approximately four miles southwest of Pathfinder Dam, this particular place is a great tourist destination. There are lovely rock walls that are high up on each side of the river, making it an excellent spot for kayakers and those who love to keep their adrenaline pumping.
Fremont Canyon is also a great place for fishing, sightseeing, and canoeing.
12. Visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is one of Casper’s largest museums and the most informative. Visiting this remarkable place is worth it, especially if you’re an avid history lover.
National Historic Trails Interpretive Center has the documented history of the 400,000 settlers’ experience while traveling through trails that crisscrossed Wyoming between 1841 to 1868. The museum is located in a hilly place, having breathtaking views of the countryside around Casper.
13. Stroll through Nicolaysen Art Museum
This particular museum is another ideal place to visit. The Nicolaysen Art Museum showcases an array of work done by both local and national artists. Avid art lovers will most definitely enjoy their time here, as the artwork displayed at the museum constantly changes every month. In turn, the experience is always refreshing with each monthly visit.
Nicolaysen Art Museum also has a variety of art programs for children, while adults get to meet the artists in person.
14. Traverse the Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is an explorer’s paradise as it is easily accessible and has breathtaking scenery. Guests can either cover this trail on horseback along the Platte River, with a famous stopping point for patrons near Independence Rock.
Visitors also have the privilege to choose whether they want an overnight wagon trip, or a half or full day’s horse ride while at the Oregon Trail. Besides experiencing an adventure of a lifetime, this lovely destination also educates people about the trail’s history.
15. Bike or Hike the Platte River Trails
Another lovely location for exploring and one of the great things to do while in Casper is visiting the Platte River Trails. This particular trail covers 11 miles and is ideal for hiking, biking, or running.
While on the Platte River Trails, you usually pass across various amazing parks such as the Tate Pumphouse, the Fort Caspar Museum, White Water Park, among other tourist attractions. The scenery on the trail is also genuinely remarkable and worth your attention.
16. Explore Tate Geological Museum
Among the scarce paleontology and geology museums in Wyoming is none other than the Tate Geological. This particular museum is an exceptional destination for history lovers. It contains over 3,000 mineral specimens, fossils of dinosaurs, and 11,600-year-old Mammoth from the ice age era, among other historical ancient wonders.
The Tate Geological Museum is a great place for history buffs as they learn more about the history of ancient species.
17. The Science Zone
For another excellent place better suited for children and those who are “children at heart,” consider a trip to The Science Zone. This particular place is ideal for playing and exploring too. The Science Zone has a lovely zoo where kids get to learn more about animals. Alternatively, children can also play at the Bubble Zone or visit the Engineering Zone, where they get to build and also Knockdown structures for mere amusement.
Where to Stay in Casper
If you need recommendations on where to stay in Casper while experiencing these places and sights, I’ve got you covered! Here are my top spots to stay:
- Royal Inn Casper – A local motel you can support during your stay, near the city center. From $49/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com
- Clarion Inn At Platte River – This chain hotel has local touches and is right near the banks of the Platte River. From $89/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com
- La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Casper – Across the river from the Clarion Inn, this hotel is along the highway and has all the basics. From $80/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com
Do you have questions about these things to do in Casper? Or are there any I missed? Let me know in the comments below!