Catch a show at the 1885 opera house or stroll through more than 600 acres of never-been-plowed native prairie in Red Cloud, the childhood home of Willa Cather, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of O Pioneers! and other classics.
Originally a mining camp called “Columbia,” Telluride boomed when the railroad arrived in 1890. But after the silver market went bust, the town reinvented itself—first as a ski resort, then as host to a variety of cultural festivals.
Check out the Last Chance Mining Museum to see historical mining buildings and an underground exhibit on hard rock mining in Juneau, named after prospector Joe Juneau (even though Tlingit Chief Kowee was the one who led him to the gold).
Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado
The Gunnison Pioneer Museum displays a restored turn-of-the-20th-century schoolhouse, the town’s first post office
and a railroad depot among other treasures. And the entire town of Crested Butte was designated a National Historic District in 1974.
Buffalo Bill himself spearheaded the effort to build this town in the Bighorn Basin. His legacy lives on at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the ever-popular Irma Hotel, named for his daughter.
Fort Davis, Texas
We can’t wait to see the new exhibits at the Fort Davis National Historic Site this year. Meanwhile, the Overland Trail Museum holds diverse artifacts such as firearms and arrowheads to Victorian antiques and a frontier barbershop.
Just two weeks after Gettysburg, thousands of troops fought at Honey Springs near Checotah. The largest Civil War battle in the Indian Territory is re-enacted every few years. In 2013 the battlefield was named a National Historic Landmark.
Silver City, New Mexico
When ore was discovered there in 1870, the area known to Hispano settlers as La Cienega de San Vicente was renamed Silver City. Billy the Kid, then known as Henry McCarty, grew up and was arrested for the first time here. Shortly thereafter, he made his first jailbreak.
Fort Worth, Texas
No visit here is complete without a stop at the Stockyards National Historic District. Check out the daily Fort Worth Herd cattle drives, see some of the biggest Country music stars perform at
Billy Bob’s Texas (the world’s largest honky-tonk) and watch the rodeo action every
weekend at Cowtown Coliseum.
San Antonio, Texas
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it before. The Alamo is one of the magical places that has transcended history and become legend. After your pilgrimage, take a stroll
on the city’s celebrated River Walk (also known as Paseo del Rio),
which is lined with restaurants and shops.
Cattlemen driving their herds to the railheads in Abilene, Kansas, often stopped at the Mead Trading Post. Once rails reached it in 1872, the town—then called Wichita—became a regional “cow capital.” Learn all about it at the Old Cowtown Museum.
Examine the history of the Old West through a different lens at the Black American West Museum, which highlights the role blacks played—as miners, soldiers, teachers, cowboys and lawmen-—in the settlement of the state.
El Paso, Texas
Tour one of the city’s most historic houses at the Magoffin Home State Historic Site. The nineteen-room adobe home, built in 1875 for pioneer and civic leader Joseph Magoffin, still holds original family furnishings.
In 1845 Portland’s founders, Francis Pettygrove of Portland, Maine, and Asa Lovejoy of Boston, Massachusetts, each wanted to name their new village after their hometowns. So they decided to flip for it, best two out of three. See the historic “Portland Penny” at the
Oregon Historical Society Museum.
Take a trip back through time at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. On Pioneer Demonstration Day costumed docents show how settlers worked, lived and played in those long-ago days.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum holds the most amazing collection of Western art you’re likely to find anywhere, with an assortment of works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, as well as James Fraser’s iconic sculpture, The End of the Trail.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Learn all about the history of the Great Northern Railway at the Jackson Street Roundhouse, then check out the miniatures at the Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum, especially the O-Scale Exhibit and its astonishing reproductions of some of the Great Northern’s most famous 19th-century landmarks.
Rodeo professionals may come to Cheyenne Frontier Days to compete for more than $1 million in cash and prizes, but the rest of us come for the thrill of attending the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, a Cheyenne tradition since 1897. Mark your calendars now—Cheyenne Frontier Days run July 18-27.