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The Wild Wild West
During the 1800's, the United States expanded from the Mississippi River Westward to the Pacific Ocean. It grew into unchartered territory at a rapid rate, and along the way it took on new habits which resulted from the many challenges faced by pioneers in an uncivilized land with few comforts and rules. It was the Wild West.
St. Louis - Gateway to the West - After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, St. Louis Missouri was the main starting point for exploration and settlement of the Western Frontier. Louis and Clark departed from here to explore the new territory by going up the Missouri River to its headwaters in Western Montana. Near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, St. Louis played a major role in early America's Westward expansion. Its nickname, the "Gateway to the West", is symbolized by the towering focal point of the Saint Louis skyline: the 630' Gateway Arch.
The Most Scenic & Scary Road in the U.S. - Larimer County CO - Founded in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most scenic parks in the U.S. and the views along the historic Old Fall River Road & Trail Ridge Road show it. Both of these routes, which can be a little nerve wracking at times, offer travelers the opportunity to retrace the routes once traveled by the Native Americans & later by park tourists. Once at the top, not only are the views amazing, but so is the history. Take this virtual drive from the safety of your armchair.
Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday & Dodge City - Dodge City KS - The city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. It was established to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, and later became the proverbial "Cow Town" as it was a primary loading point on the Sante Fe Railroad for longhorn cattle driven up from Texas.
Tombstone Arizona - Founded in 1877, Tombstone is known as the ultimate frontier boomtown, and grew from 100 people to 14000 in less than 7 years because of silver mining, and was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. Known for the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and the Boothill graveyard, it is the second largest tourist attraction in Arizona behind the Grand Canyon, but had become a ghost town in the early 1900's after the silver mines filled with water.
Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull & the Wild West Museum - Golden CO - The top of Lookout Mountain is the gravesite of Buffalo Bill Cody, and was used by the Ute Indians as a lookout post. From here, you can see the entire city of Denver.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument - Bighorn County MT - Also known as Custers's Last Stand, this battle was fought between the 7th Cavalry Regiment lead by General Custer and the combined Sioux, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes lead by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse among others. Custer was intending on capturing the women and children of the Sioux village to use as hostages in negotiations, but was unaware of the 2500 Native Americans from the other tribes in the immediate area.
Virginia City NV - Another Wild West Boom Town which grew during the Gold Rush. Most famous for the Comstock Lode, this historic town was a booming mining establishment for several decades in the mid-1800s. Jump back in time by taking a stroll down the wooden sidewalks, quenching your thirst at one the unique saloons, riding on a steam engine or taking a haunted ghost tour in what was once the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West - Cody WY - Draper Natural History Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Buffalo Bill Museum. Near Yellowstone National Park.
The Oregon Trail - Starting in Independence Missouri and ending in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, this 2100 mile route was used by over 400,000 pioneers to migrate to the Western US. There were no hotels, grocery stores or ATC hosts along the way, so it was a pretty gruelling 3-4 month trip. Remnants of the original trail can still be seen along I-84 in Idaho and Eastern Oregon, which follows the same route. Even after 150 years, the ruts left by the wagon wheels can still be seen alongside the highway in many places. A museum in Baker City OR is dedicated to the trail.
Hwy 50 across Central Nevada is nicknamed "The Loneliest Road in America". It follows the route of the Pony Express across the state from Baker to Carson City, and is very scenic - but lonely. Make sure your car's fuel tank is full, before you leave on this road trip! - suggested by J Martenson - NV.