The journey from Wichita to Cheyenne is a trip through the Old West. From the Keeper of the Great Plains, which honors Native Americans, to the spires of the Badlands where criminals hid, the trip covers the majestic terrain written into American folklore. What are now cities began as intersections where travelers briefly stopped to refresh or boomtowns where gold and other valuable minerals were discovered. Within driving distance of the direct route are national parks that seek to preserve the environment as incoming settlers found it. State parks provide a haven for travelers to stay overnight. To experience this journey in its entirety, follow this road trip itinerary from Wichita to Cheyenne.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
When you reach Denver, detour 263 miles toward the southwest to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It covers 30,385 acres of rugged land in western Colorado, including 12 miles of the Black Canyon. The park got its name from the distinctive black granite that the Gunnison River carved to create a picturesque canyon. Vertical cliffs, hills covered with sagebrush, and a rushing river cutting through it all provide incredible views for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. The park is isolated from city lights due to the mountains surrounding it, making stargazing on a clear night a favorite activity.
Rocky Mountain National Park
To reach Rocky Mountain National Park from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, travel through Grand Junction and drive northeast for 262 miles. The lowest level of the 265,461-acre park is at 7,360 feet, and the highest is 14,259 feet, making the park one of the highest in the nation. Inside the park are 60 mountain peaks, 150 alpine lakes, and approximately 450 miles of rivers and streams, including the headwaters of the legendary Colorado River. Downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are the favorite activities that draw winter visitors. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, and angling draw thousands to the park during the spring, summer, and fall months.
Wind Cave National Park
Once you reach Cheyenne, take the road north to see Wind Cave National Park. The 28,295-acre park protects wide stretches of prairie where buffalo, antelope, elk, and deer find a haven. The park consists of the typical rolling plains found in southwest South Dakota. Visitors have the chance to view wildlife in their natural habitat free of human interference. Beneath the surface is the cave for which the park is named. Wind Cave is a series of underground caverns that runs for over 14 miles. Each room has its personality, with flowstone, stalagmites, and stalactites standing strong in different colored lights.
Badlands National Park
After visiting Wind Cave National Park, drive another 70 miles north to see Badlands National Park. Towering spires with deep notches in between seem to jump out of the ground in this park with no foothills to introduce them. The park protects 242,759 acres, including the sharp pinnacles and eroded buttes that are the main features and, surrounding the pinnacles and buttes, the largest remaining area of prairie grass in the United States. While buffalo, antelope, and deer find protection in the prairie lands, cougar, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, and other high terrain-loving animals find it in the badlands.
Tuttle Creek Lake State Park
Tuttle Creek Lake State Park is located 54 miles northeast of Salina, KS. The 12,000-acre park includes a shooting range and an 18-hole golf course, as well as miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. It sits beside the 10,800-acre Tuttle Lake, a reservoir full of fish.
Cherry Creek State Park
Located 12 miles from downtown Denver, the 4,400-acre Cherry Creek State Park is a fun destination, no matter what season you visit. Tucked next to an 880-acre reservoir, the park provides excellent fishing, with accessible boat ramps in several places around the lake. Over 25 miles of hiking trails take hikers through high prairie grass and small groups of trees to the shores of the lake where they can fish from the bank.
Curt Gowdy State Park
Curt Gowdy State Park is located 25 miles west of Cheyenne. The 3,395-acre park consists of rolling hills and towering granite outcroppings set in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains. It contains three reservoirs where the fishing is excellent. Over 35 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails take you to viewpoints that focus on the amazing Laramie Mountains. Wildlife is diverse, with bears, elk, deer, and marmots coexisting in this protected area.
The Keeper of the Plains
Before you leave Wichita, stop by the Keeper of the Plains. The 44-foot Cor-Ten steel statue depicts a Native American with hands and face raised to the Great Spirit in supplication. Donated to the citizens of Wichita by sculptor Blackbear Bosin in 1974 to commemorate the bicentennial, the statue symbolically stands at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. Standing on a 30-foot pedestal, the figure is the symbol of Wichita and a tribute to Native Americans.
Denver Art Museum
With its castle-style roofline and modern tiled exterior melding the past and the future, the Denver Art Museum an art piece all by itself. Inside, it carries and displays one of the largest collections of art in the country. Its exhibits focus on Native American art and use interactive displays to encourage the artist in everyone.
The Nelson Museum of the West
Located in Cheyenne, the Nelson Museum of the West focuses on American West history, western folklore, and the collection of artifacts left by the immigrants who settled there. The exhibits include displays of Pueblo Native American art, artifacts left by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, the influence of Spanish explorers in the American Southwest, and the firearms used by settlers for hunting and protection in the Wild West.
Salina is 88 miles into your Wichita to Cheyenne RV road trip. The town serves as a major crossroads between the east and the west, resulting in significant traffic, including RV traffic. Small businesses have always thrived in Salina. Initially, stables, saloons, hotels, and stockyards crowded the streets. But the city has grown with the times, bringing in manufacturing plants, processing plants, and educational centers that expanded the population and provided a peaceful place for people to raise their families. Today, the town is filled with restaurants to service the traffic that runs through it and the community's residents. Drop by the Hickory Hut BBQ for some of the most interesting barbecue meals you will ever enjoy. While you are here, take advantage of its dump stations or stay a night at one of the campgrounds in the area.
Denver sprang into existence in the late 1800s. It went from a few prospectors to over 100,000 residents in five years. Dubbed “The Mile-High City,” this town is surrounded by high peaks, 200 of which are visible on a clear day. Located 580 miles into your Wichita to Cheyenne road trip, Denver offers winter sports destinations and ample opportunities to swim, hike, and fish in locations throughout the area during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. While you are here, take advantage of the dump stations and campgrounds that Denver offers.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction is a major city along your detour to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Grand Junction owes its existence to its location near low passes through the Rocky Mountains. Initially, the town was a significant resting spot for those traveling by wagon, horse, or foot. Today, Grand Junction provides some of the most interesting gift shops you find on this road trip from Wichita to Cheyenne. Stop at Unique Expressions to find an eclectic selection of gifts to send to friends and family back home. While you are in the city, take the time to clean your tanks at one of the local dump stations. To stay a night or two, register at one of the many campgrounds in the area.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Wichita to Cheyenne, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Wichita or Cheyenne.