The trip from Boulder, Colorado, to Jackson, Wyoming, marked the Wild West portion of my updates from the road, and the first leg of the journey took Blaise and me to Cheyenne, Wyoming. A friend who had once visited Cheyenne made us promise to stop there to eat at a little restaurant called the Luxury Diner.
We’re not ones to break a promise, so we entered the address into our GPS, and it led us -- curiously enough -- to an old railroad car. But the sign out front indicated we had made it, so we stepped inside, grabbed the only vacant seats, and had the kind of breakfast you crave when you’re hungry and away from home: huge portions of greasy spoon comfort food.
Inside Cheyenne, Wyoming's landmark Luxury Diner.
The railroad car, if you’re curious, was once part of a trolley that traveled through the city from 1896 to 1912. It became a diner in 1926.
Souvenir coffee mugs in hand, we got back in the car and drove through long stretches of rolling farmland, crossed through miles of forest, and finally entered Jackson.
While the city catered a bit more toward the tourist set than I normally enjoy, I loved every second of my stay. The shops and restaurants throughout the town’s main hub wear their history proudly, displaying plaques next to their doors explaining important moments in the city’s history. And at 6 p.m., you can head to Town Square for a reenactment of a shootout and catch a glimpse of how frontier disputes were once settled.
Views of the Lower Falls inside Yellowstone National Park.
We spent most of the next day exploring Grand Teton National Park and then Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park. The two require much more than just a few hours, but we covered a lot of ground and made it back to Jackson in time for dinner.
Good thing, too, as Blaise and I made plans to eat at the Silver Dollar Bar inside the Wort Hotel, a cozy Tudor-style lodge that’s part of the Historic Hotels of America program.
The burgers and fries tasted extra delicious after a day in the wilderness, and the live band drew a crowd of locals and tourists alike. With our stomachs full and our ears ringing, we explored the rustic hotel, climbing its grand wooden staircase and relaxing for a moment in front of the stone fireplace on the mezzanine overlooking the lobby.
Shades Cafe, the perfect place to fuel up before another long trip.
We read about its days as a gambling destination (gambling was illegal, but those in the know could find a poker game at the Wort), and about a fire in 1980 that nearly destroyed the hotel. The roof and second floor were badly damaged, but after a year of repairs, it reopened in 1981, looking just as it did when it first opened in 1941.
On our final morning in Jackson, we had breakfast in what was once an old blacksmith shop. Today it’s Shades Café, and from our spot on the outdoor patio, it was a great place to watch the morning unfold and fuel up for part two of our Wild West adventure: Butte, Montana.
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Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.