If you are impressed by big holes and big machinery, you've come to the right place. The RAG Coal West-Eagle Butte Mine has an impressive overlook near mile marker 100 on U.S. 14/16, about 1 mile north of Gillette's airport. The mine company and the Gillette Convention and Visitors Bureau jointly sponsor free summer tours to the mine site, where you can see the massive equipment used to extract the coal. Reservations should be made by calling tel. 307/686-0040.
The Campbell County Rockpile Museum, 900 W. 2nd St. (tel. 307/682-5723), is the place to learn something about the history of this area. Displays include artifacts of the area's past such as saddles, rifles, arrowheads, and the like, but I prefer the big stuff -- antique vehicles, including several Ford Model Ts, and a wagon collection that includes a horse-drawn hearse and an old sheep wagon. Kids like the vintage tractors they can climb on, as well as the other hands-on displays, including one that helps children identify the area's animals. There's also a "Grandma's Attic" section, where kids can dress up in historical (and funny-looking) fashions from days gone by. Adjacent to the museum building is a historic schoolhouse and a homesteader's cabin from the early 1900s. Both of these buildings were relocated to the museum grounds from other parts of the county. Finally, for those who like firecrackers -- we mean really, really big firecrackers -- don't miss the 10-minute big-screen video on coal mining that shows what dynamite can really do. Admission to the museum is free. It's open year-round Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
The CAM-PLEX (tel. 307/682-0552; www.cam-plex.com), a massive event pavilion, has been the host in recent years of the National High School Rodeo Finals, as well as an array of other exciting events. Call or visit the website to find out what's scheduled.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.