Music is the ultimate unifier. It is an expression of culture, of emotion and of identity. Music festivals, by extension, offer the chance for people from all walks of life to come together, leave their differences at the gate and celebrate.
Wyoming is perhaps a surprising hub of music. Music festivals across the state showcase local, regional and national artists, and while not all of the music is Wyoming-born, the atmospheres are completely unique to this state. Wyoming hosts music festivals in high deserts, alpine meadows, fairgrounds and open-air community parks. Experience Wyoming in a whole new way at any one of these multi-day music fests.
Nowoodstock Music Festival
Ten Sleep, Wyoming is a hidden gem that locals treasure and visitors will quickly love. It’s a slightly lesser-known rock climbing hub than, say, Lander, with all the charm of a small Wyoming town.
Ten Sleep’s Nowoodstock Music Festival is just as enticing. It is one of the state’s longest-running music festivals held in the town’s Vista Park. Fuel up with provisions from local food trucks and Wyoming’s own Ten Sleep Brewing Company. Browse handmade goods from local and regional artisans. And, of course, enjoy live music in front of the beautiful Bighorn Mountains.
If you need a break from the music, spend the day sport climbing in Ten Sleep Canyon then spend the night under the stars. Or, right next to Vista Park, visit the Ten Sleep Pioneer Museum for a taste of Wyoming history, followed by a visit to the Ten Sleep Brewing Company home base.
Beartrap Summer Festival
If you’re looking for art, scenery, and good food set to the soundtrack of the best of bluegrass music, look no further than Casper’s Beartrap Summer Festival. It’s a full weekend of family-friendly fun in a mountain meadow. What started as a small, local gathering has grown into a full production that features some of the biggest names in Bluegrass: Asleep at the Wheel, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the Ransom Notes are just some of the artists that have graced the Beartrap stage.
While in Casper, spend a few hours brushing up on your paleontology at the Tate Geological Museum. Its collection of fossils and minerals offer a scientific glimpse into Wyoming’s geographic history and even pre-historic past. The star attractions are Dee, the 11,6000-year-old Mammoth, and Lee the T. rex. Cyclists and hikers can, and should, explore the trails at Casper Mountain.
Oyster Ridge Music Festival
Kemmerer, Wyoming was once known as the birthplace of J.C. Penny. Now, it is perhaps better known as the host of the Oyster Ridge Music Festival. Oyster Ridge brings big-time music to small-town Wyoming and has featured Grammy Award-winning artists. The festival won the 2005 Governor’s Art Award and is proudly Wyoming’s biggest free music festival. Its most unique feature is its “Band Scramble,” where musicians’ names are drawn at random throughout the weekend to jam together and write a song. Guests vote for their favorite performance, which is then brought to the main stage.
Second to festivals, fossils are kind of a big deal in Kemmerer — the town is one of two in “fossil basin.” No trip would be complete without a visit to Fossil Butte National Monument, where preserved fossils tell a story of Wyoming, millions of years ago.
Wyoming’s Big Show
Part of the Sweetwater County Fair, Wyoming’s Big Show is the ultimate celebration of country livin’ and the music it inspires. In fairness, it’s not just country music that fills the Sweetwater Events Complex. Music fans of any genre will find something to dance to — rock, funk, bluegrass; it’s all fair game. The Sweetwater County Fair is a weeklong celebration and concerts happen almost every day, so between 4H, a carnival and music, there’s never a dull moment. You just need one fair ticket per person to access all it has to offer, including concerts. While in Rock Springs, take in the town’s coal mining and railroad history while enjoying a local beer at Bitter Creek Brewing.
Cheyenne Frontier Days
Cheyenne Frontier Days are so much more than a music festival. It is an all-inclusive celebration of the things that make Wyoming great: cowboys, country music, and a pioneer ethic. Come for the world-class Professional Bull Riding (PBR) rodeo, featuring some of the best bull riders around. Or the carnival. Or the downtown parades. But stay for some of the biggest names in country music: Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Cody Johnson, and more. Frontier Days is a full 10 days of Western culture.
As Wyoming’s capital, Cheyenne is chock-full of history and culture year-round. Visit the Cowgirls of the West Museum to honor Wyoming women, past and present, who have helped shape the state. In the spirit of Frontier Days, the Frontier Days Old West Museum showcases the history of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration.”
Million Dollar Music Festival
The Million Dollar Music Festival is one of the newer fests on the scene, but its reputation is quickly growing. A product of Jackson Hole’s infamous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, the Million Dollar Music Fest blew crowds away in its first year with an unforgettable performance from Midland. The free, family-friendly festival kicks off tourist season on Jackson’s Town Square and celebrates Jackson’s western heritage. Adults, of course, can finish the night at the Cowboy Bar, where the party continues all night long.
Shops and restaurants on the surrounding Town Square stay open throughout the festival, so guests have no shortage of dining and lodging options. During the day, head to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for a full day of recreation. Play on world-class mountain bike trails, or hike up to the top of the gondola for a well-earned meal at Piste and a free ride down. Closer to town, take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of Snow King Mountain for a bird’s eye view of Jackson Hole.
Targhee Fest & Targhee Bluegrass Fest
This festival is cancelled in 2021.
Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming throws two music festivals every summer: Targhee Fest and Targhee Bluegrass Fest. The latter, as the name suggests, is a full weekend of foot-stompin’ bluegrass. The former invites world-class musicians across all genres to perform in a natural amphitheater created by the Tetons. Both festivals are as memorable for their musical acts, whose voices fill the valley, as they are for the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the venue. Lodging and camping are available on-site so guests can fully immerse themselves in three days of music, food and outdoor recreation. Bring your mountain bike or rent one on-site to enjoy some world-class mountain biking in between acts.