American, Old West History on Display Across the Great American West
The Great American West states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are chock-full of American and Wild West history. From landscapes carved by millennia-old events to colorful characters in Old West mythology, these five states are home to much of the history that shaped the United States. Read on for some historic stops to add to your bucket list!
Idaho may be best-known for its mountains, hot springs and skiing, but its history of sheep ranching and silver mining are still celebrated. Or if vast strongholds of undeveloped wilderness are more your cup of tea, you can visit the Owyhee Mountains in the southwest part of the state.
Montana’s vast, unspoiled and wild landscapes boast adventure around every corner. Visit the eastern part of the state to gaze in awe at the breathtaking badlands, stop at one of the many parks in the Billings area for a unique perspective on Montana terrain, or head west to see Glacial Lake Missoula, whose catastrophic floods are responsible for much of the West’s most famous landscapes.
North Dakota’s Fort Union Trading Post, once the “Walmart of the West” due to its status as commerce and cultural exchange hub, is brimming with living history interpretations like blacksmithing, weaving and teepee-building. And in Fargo-Moorhead, you can dive into history at Bonanzaville USA and its 40 preserved buildings.
Native American culture is still alive and well in South Dakota, and you can get a front-row seat to one of the most unique examples: an Indian Horse Relay Race! Or embark on a journey through Black Hills Gold Rush history in the Rapid City area, where you can visit museums, take a tour or even try your hand at gemstone mining.
Visit Wyoming’s South Pass City to learn about the area’s gold mining and women’s suffrage significance. A “GEM” you won’t want to miss, the Grand Encampment Museum in Carbon County hosts several annual events that bring history to life. While you’re immersing yourself in the past, try a hands-on experience at Casper’s National historic Trails Interpretive Center or Historic Trails West. Cheyenne’s history is well-celebrated with various events each year, and don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the reason the town exists today: the railroad. Cody Yellowstone, famously a favorite of Buffalo Bill Cody, offers history at every turn. Butch Cassidy and his infamous “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” hid in Red Wall Country in Johnson County, and you can still see this remote area today. Sheridan County offers countless ways to experience the history that shaped the American West, from Indian Wars battle sites to a museum housing Western art.
The Great American West Official Gateway City of Denver can trace its past back to Native American tribes, through history to the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and to its present-day status as a booming tech hub.
For more information or to start planning your trip to the Great American West, visit GreatAmericanWest.co.