The wild West has gone down in history as a place of savagery and violence, thanks to old westerns and the media. But the West itself wasn’t like that for most ordinary people. Instead, it was perhaps the freest place on Earth at any time in human history. Not only was it part of a country with a freedom-loving constitution, it was far away from the urban centers, making it a place where people could build great ranches and run their own affairs without any interference.
Now the wild West has become a holiday experience, complete with museums, restaurants and awe-inspiring landscapes. Here’s what to do if you decide to visit.
Travel On Horseback
The western US is a vast, continental wildness which looks practically nothing like the big cities, dotted along the coast. And the only way to travel in the West is on horseback. Places like the Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce, and Zion, are crisscrossed with trails that have been beaten underhoof for generations by horses, making them perfect riding country.
Visitors can saddle up and ride their mules along the Grand Canyon’s famous northern rim and explore the incredible natural wonders that the region has to offer. Riding on horseback is the perfect way to experience the Beehives and Three Patriarchs rock formations.
Travel By Covered Wagon
The early pioneers of the west traveled by covered wagon, searching for pastures new and places that they could set up new homes. The early pioneers themselves went through Yellowstone park, and so too can tourists. Tourists can also experience other pioneer trails, including the Pony Express, the California trail, and the Oregon trail that eventually led to the founding of the city of Portland.
On these trail tourism, there are usually opportunities to rest overnight at Indian lodges as well as have authentic experience, like eating a campfire meal or experiencing the thrill of a cattle drive.
Traverse The Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is one of the most famous rivers in the west, flowing for hundreds of miles through the scrub of New Mexico state. Locally organized hot air balloon rides fly over the river, giving tourists the best possible views and allowing them to see how this mighty river shaped the landscape. You’ll get the chance to see the Sandia Mountains, as well as the Cibola National Forest.
Pan For Gold
One of the reasons why so many people moved to the west was to search for gold so that they could make their fortune when they returned to the city. It is this frontier spirit of entrepreneurship that still characterizes the US today. Tourist can indulge in the 19th-century practice of gold prospecting, sifting silt from rivers to see whether they can find any fresh nuggets.
One of the first mining communities, the Jimtown Mining Camp, dates back to 1849. Here, tourists can enjoy a living museum, with guides dressed in period costume, showing them how to pan for gold. There are also re-enactments of local gunfights, as well as restaurants that serve traditional food from the era.