Wilder Cowboy Days

Behind the chutes at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Wyoming’s venerable Cheyenne Frontier Days—the largest outdoor rodeo in the world—has been captivating rodeo fans since 1897. For four years, Christy Wilder took in the event from a unique vantage point: the photographer’s pit. The West Virginia native first trained her camera lens on the cowboy way of life when she moved to Cheyenne in 2003.

“I’d never lived in a place that was as Western as it is in Wyoming,” she laughs. “The physician I was working with at the time was also a rancher and invited me to Warren Ranch. I spent the day out there while they were branding and I never wanted to leave. I just fell in love with the Western lifestyle and how beautifully it translates through the camera.”

Photographing Frontier Days puts Wilder up close and personal with the action—sometimes a little too close. Like the time a horse jumped the arena fence and ran right over the top of the photographer’s pit. 

“There’s definitely a lot of adrenaline and excitement,” Wilder says of the rodeo and its many outside-the-arena events. “You want to come back for all 10 days in a row. It’s that fun. Everyone should come out to Cheyenne and experience it for themselves.”

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