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Step Back in Time: Three Historic Wild West Towns Perfect for Summer Getaways


For those looking to immerse themselves in the charm and history of the American West, three towns stand out as must-visit destinations this summer. Each offers a unique glimpse into the past, coupled with modern attractions that make the most of their stunning mountain settings. Whether you’re drawn to the cowboy culture, gold rush history, or mountain adventures, these towns promise unforgettable summer getaways.

Cody, Wyoming: A Real Wild West Experience

Cody, Wyoming, is the quintessential Wild West town, established by none other than the legendary showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody. He envisioned a town where visitors could live out the adventures they’d seen in his traveling Wild West shows. Today, Cody retains its frontier appeal, with attractions like:

  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West: A complex of museums including the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, and Cody Firearms Museum.
  • Old Trail Town: Features 26 historic buildings from around the region, providing a tangible walk through the past.
  • Heart Mountain WWII Japanese American Confinement Site: Offers a poignant look at a darker period in U.S. history.

Just a short drive from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park, Cody serves as an excellent base for exploring the natural wonders of Wyoming.

Placerville, California: From Gold Rush to Gourmet

Originally known as Hangtown, Placerville, California, sprung up during the gold rush of the 19th century. Today, it blends its rugged past with a sophisticated present, making it a goldmine for history buffs and foodies alike. Notable highlights include:

  • Historic Walking Tour: Starts at the iconic Bell Tower and includes stops at some of California’s oldest businesses.
  • Outdoor Activities: Offers rafting on the American River and hiking in El Dorado National Forest.
  • Culinary Delights: Features unique shops like Dedrick’s Cheese and Winterhill Olive Oil, alongside vibrant new eateries that showcase local produce.

Placerville’s rich history and thriving contemporary culture offer something for everyone.

Crested Butte, Colorado: Outdoor Adventure Hub

Once a coal mining town, Crested Butte has transformed into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, known as the “Gateway to the Elk Mountains.” The town’s vibrant spirit shines in both its historical and recreational offerings:

  • Adventure Sports: From challenging hikes like the East Maroon Trail to the more accessible Meridian Lake, the area is a paradise for hikers and bikers.
  • Crested Butte Mountain Resort: Provides year-round activities, with everything from skiing to scenic chairlift rides.
  • Cultural Experience: The town’s cafes and saloons buzz with energy, offering live music and local fare.

Crested Butte is the perfect spot for those who want to mix outdoor activities with small-town charm.

Accommodation and Amenities

Each town offers distinctive accommodations that enhance the visitor experience:

  • In Cody, options range from historic dude ranches like Bill Cody Ranch to modern comforts at the Holiday Inn Cody at Buffalo Bill Village.
  • Placerville’s lodging includes the enchanting Eden Vale Inn, which blends luxury with the area’s rustic setting.
  • Crested Butte features a variety of choices from the quaint Old Town Inn to the upscale Grand Lodge at Crested Butte Resort.

Final Thoughts

Cody, Placerville, and Crested Butte each offer a unique window into America’s Wild West past, enriched by their natural beauty and contemporary attractions. These towns are more than just travel destinations; they are gateways to adventure and history, making them perfect for a summer exploration that feels like stepping back in time.

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