Anyone who has a true appreciation for the history of the U.S. understands how the Wild West fits into our nation's past.
That may be why we're still so captivated by stories about the Wild West from two centuries ago.
For our RV Lifestyle fellow travelers, know this: Traces of the Wild West can be found aplenty.
In fact, there are a lot of places that keep the spirit of the Wild West alive — places that make for perfect RV destinations. Thanks to the folks at TravelTrivia.com, we have a list of four places to visit if you want to experience the Wild West for yourself:
4. Dodge City, Kansas
If you like the tales of the Wild West — stuff like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday — then Dodge City, Kansas, is a must-visit for you. The reason is simple: Dodge City was one of the wildest parts of the Wild West. The city's official website says the original settlers to Dodge City included gunslingers and gamblers. The town boasted six saloons, three dance halls, and one general store in 1872. That rowdy reputation brought famous lawmen Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp to town with the goal of trying to clean it up.
Today, the town keeps the heart of the Wild West alive. Visitors can check out many historical sites significant to the history of the area. One of those is the Boot Hill Museum, packed with memorabilia from the Wild West and some of the town's most famous residents. In the summer, the museum hosts daily gunfight reenactments where you can see the action of the Wild West in person. After the shootout, you can mosey down to the local saloon for a drink and sing along with the music. Cowboy fans should check out the city's Dodge City Days, an annual 10-day festival celebrating cowboy culture and the history of the west. Whenever you visit, though, Dodge City is a place where you can immerse yourself and relive the glory days of the cowboy.
3. Tombstone, Arizona
According to Tombstone Web, the history of the town dates to the discovery of silver in the nearby hills. By 1879, a town sprung up and in moved prospectors, homesteaders, and cowboys. The town experienced a true population boom, too, as by 1881 the population was about 9,000. There were about 100 (yes, 100!) saloons to quench the thirst (and then some) of all those dusty miners. But there was no location in Tombstone more famous than the OK Corral — the site of the famous gunfight between Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and the members of the Clanton Gang. It's what makes Tombstone so central to the history of the Wild West.
The good news is you can still visit the O.K. Corral today. According to Go Arizona, the main street of the town looks today much like it did in the late 1800s. Visit Arizona calls Tombstone “the town too tough to die,” but visitors will find it a friendly place. Be sure to check out the Tombstone Western Heritage Museum.
2. Cody, Wyoming
Cody, Wyoming is an honest to goodness, real western town, founded in 1896 by William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The hotel he built and named after his daughter Irma still stands and is open for business. Today, nearly 10,000 people live there, on the eastern road leading to Yellowstone National Park, a road Cody also built.
Today, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is a world class museum in Cody that celebrates the exploration of the West, with exhibits that document the history of the Plains Indians, as well as Cody’s life and the history of firearms.
Speaking of guns, every night at 6 p.m., the Cody gunfighters stage a nightly gunfight between the good guys and the bad guys, with a couple of saucy saloon girls mixed in. The good guys always win and you can pose for photos with the gunfighting cast afterwards
Cody has another major claim to fame – the nightly rodeo held every single night of the week during the summer. The Cody Night Rodeo has also made the town America’s rodeo capital.
Then there’s the source of the music you hear under the video – the Dan Miller Cowboy Music Revue, which plays Monday through Saturday nights. Don’t miss this show!
Cody is a destination in and of itself, but especially for RVers heading to or from Yellowstone. There are several campgrounds to choose from. We spent two nights at the Ponderosa Campground. Allow at least that much time for your visit.
There’s a lot to do in Cody. (Check out a video we previously did during a visit to Cody.)
- Fort Worth, Texas
It wasn't only men who settled the west because cowgirls had a vital part to play in western expansion, too, and it's a role that's getting more attention today. Women rode, roped, and wrangled right alongsider male counterparts. With a visit to Fort Worth, you'll have a chance to learn more about it. That's because Fort Worth is home to the National Cowgirl Museum, which honors the women past and present who helped shape the west. The museum has information on over 750 cowgirls who were vital in the history of the western United States.
Fort Worth offers more for fans of the Wild West, including mini cattle drives down at the stockyards or take one of the city's many historical tours. Learn about the town's central role in cattle ranching and the importance ranching played in the development of the western U.S. For what it's worth, Lonely Planet says the town still has a cowboy feel, making it the perfect spot for visitors who want to explore history but still want some big-city amenities on their travels.