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Places to Visit in the USA if You Love The Wild West

If you are looking for the best Wild West towns and activities, then this article will give you some great tips!

The American Wild West is featured so often in Hollywood films and on TV that many of us feel like we know it very well – the cowboys, the gun fights, the drinking establishments, the horses and wagons…

The Wild West was so named for the lawlessness of the untamed territories west of the Mississippi River in the late 19th century.

The ‘Old West’ was famous for cowboys, native Indians, pioneers, gamblers, outlaws, gangs and gunfighters.

Famous people of the Wild West include Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Frank and Jesse James, and the Clanton gang.

And until this day the obsession with the Wild West remains strong. For many international travelers, it is an important reason for wanting to travel to the USA, and Americans look for authentic Old West vacations closer to home.

Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah receive countless tourists each year looking for Wild West attractions.

So, if you thought your childhood dreams of being a cowboy were now impossible, then think again!

These are five places you need to add to your bucket list if you love the idea of experiencing the Wild, Wild West.

Where to Go for the Best Wild West Vacations

1. Grand Canyon National Park

where to go on a Wild West vacation - Grand Canyon
where to go on a Wild West vacation – Grand Canyon

Exploring the Grand Canyon in Arizona will make you feel like you’re an actual cowboy or cowgirl, as it’s an iconic spot used heavily in the western movie genre.

Hiking through Grand Canyon’s massive expanse of gorges, ridges and rock formations is definitely something you will remember forever.

Whilst there, you can live your Old West dream and try your hand at horse riding.

Visit nearby Horseshoe Bend, one of the most photographed areas on the Colorado River, and an absolutely incredible sight.

Or travel east to take a backroads tour of Monument Valley with a Navajo guide.

Drive north into Utah to find the towering stone structures in Arches National Park which are so incredibly photogenic.

Tip: if you want to stay somewhere unique, check out the Grand Canyon Western Ranch. Set on an active ranch and offering horseback riding and wagon rides, this Old West-style resort was once owned by a notorious 19th-century gunfighter. You can choose to stay in Old West-style cottages or glamping tents.

2. New Mexico

Elizabethtown, one of many ghost towns in New Mexico
Elizabethtown, one of many ghost towns in New Mexico

Don your best cowboy boots and visit the Old West towns in New Mexico.

With plenty of hiking opportunities, picturesque foothills, and old mining pits, any Wild West enthusiast could spend days exploring this part of the USA.

Its past reputation as a lawless state means that many notorious Wild West legends lived and died in New Mexico: Billy the Kid was killed and buried in Fort Sumner and train robber Black Jack Ketchum was accidentally decapitated in a hanging-gone-wrong in Clayton.

Other Old West towns to visit in New Mexico:

  • Las Vegas – the filming location of tens of movies and completely different from its namesake in Nevada.
  • Lincoln – site of the violent Lincoln County War.
  • Mesilla – where Billy the Kid was sentenced to death.
  • White Oaks – once a booming mining town and now a ghost town.

And while you are in New Mexico the famous Route 66 of course can’t be missed!

3. Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Located in Cody, Wyoming, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a complex of five museums and a research library filled with artwork and artifacts of the American West.

You could spend days exploring all the collections, stories and exhibitions that work hard to truly bring the Wild West to life for its visitors– giving you a real taste of what it was like in those times.

And while you are in the area, visit nearby Old Trail Town, which is a re-created frontier town with 1800s log cabins and a saloon.

Spend the night at the Irma Hotel. This Old West hotel was built by ”Buffalo Bill” William F. Cody, who named the hotel after his youngest daughter, Irma.

Buffalo Bill was arguably the most famous American in the world during his lifetime and has been involved in many events that shaped the American West.

If you’re looking for a Wild West vacation, this is without a doubt one of the most interesting hotels to stay in.

4. Grand Canyon Railway

 Take a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway for a trip back in time.

The lovingly restored rail cars ooze 1920s grandeur and the scenery you can admire during the ride is unrivaled.

When you board this impressive Old West train, you get to experience the same journey people from all over the world have taken since the 1900s.

This is without a doubt one of the best Wild West attractions!

The Grand Canyon Railway operates between Williams, Arizona, and Grand Canyon National Park South Rim.

5. Goldfield Ghost Town

best places for a real Wild West experience

The Goldfield Ghost Town in Arizona is much like the set of a spaghetti western. Film buffs will definitely be in their element on a visit here!

The Goldfield Ghost Town is a reconstructed 1890s town including gold-mine tours, Old West gunfights, and a history museum.

From the historic buildings, shooting gallery, antique train, and goldmines to the staged gunfights by the Goldfield Gunfighters, you can live out your cowboy or cowgirl dream here!

You can even enjoy a delicious steak in the local saloon, complete with authentic décor that harks back to your favorite era.

If you were looking for Old West towns to visit then you should definitely add Goldfield Ghost Town to your list.

Enjoy Your Authentic Old West Vacation!

If you want to experience the gun-slinging showdowns and the sprawling landscapes associated with the Wild West, make sure you add these top 5 places to your bucket list for a trip back in time to the Old West!

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5 Places You Should Visit in The USA if You Love The Wild West.

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Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. I spend most of my time living and working abroad and visiting destinations all over the world. I use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

1 thought on “Places to Visit in the USA if You Love The Wild West”

  1. USA is such a beautiful place, especially the wild west! The images that you shared are amazing. one should definitely visit the USA once.


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