Wyoming's second-largest city, Casper, is located at the base of the Laramie Mountains in the Rockies. Situated between the Badlands and Yellowstone National Park, the city is a strategic jumping-off point for those interested in outdoor and active pursuits, as well as a place to experience historic boom-town culture.
Casper has hosted its share of Westward-bound explorers, including fur traders, Mormons and oil miners, as well as many fortune seekers on their way to California and Oregon. Today, hikers and skiers enjoy crisscrossing Casper Mountain's trails in search of wildlife and premium powder. Trout fishing on the North Platte River is also a popular year-round activity for those who prefer a more laid-back pace. Even the visually impaired are able to enjoy Casper “sightseeing” via the Lee McCune Braille Trail, offering Braille descriptions of Beartrap Meadow's natural wildlife and scenery.
During the winter months, sightseeing on Casper Mountain is best done on skis or by snowmobile. Casper Mountain boasts 60 acres of downhill and cross-country ski trails, while nearby Muddy Mountain can be reached only by snowmobile in the snowiest weather.
Cultural attractions in Casper center around nature as well, including the Casper Planetarium. Visitors to the planetarium can hear astronomy lectures and participate in telescope workshops and rocket-building classes for kids. Show up on Saturday night for impressive presentations on the night sky and solar system. Additional natural history museums include the Tate Geological Museum and Werner Wildlife Museum. The Tate museum features mineral and meteorite collections, as well as dinosaur bones and fossils found in Wyoming. Part of Casper College, the Werner museum displays well-preserved local and exotic animals, including Snowflake, the albino deer.
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is a popular tourist destination for those interested in Westward progress, as well as Wyoming's natural wonders. Exhibits focus on the many cross-country trails that have passed through Casper, including the Pony Express, Mormon Pioneer, California and Oregon Trails. The center also emphasizes local conservation efforts, which have helped to preserve these historic trails for visitors' enjoyment.
Another high-profile Casper attraction is Fort Caspar Museum and Historic Site. The site is a reconstructed military post dating from 1865, named for U.S. Army officer Caspar Collins, who died in the Battle of the Platte Bridge Station. (Caspar is also the inspiration for the city's name, though a typographical error replaced the A with an E, and the change stuck.) Originally built to protect settlers from Native American attacks, the fort offers historical re-enactments as well as exhibits on Plains Indians and pre-historic people, immigrant trails, the energy and ranching industries, and the evolution of the city of Casper.
For those interested in artistic pursuits, the Nicolaysen Art Museum and Discovery Center showcases regional artists with Western and Rocky Mountain themes. The Discovery Center allows visitors to create their own artwork in its interactive studio. Finally, the Gertrude Krampert Theatre, Stage III Community Theatre and Casper Events Center offer both community and Broadway theatrical performances.