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"Travelling out West, suggestions?" Topic

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Areas of Interest

19th Century

574 hits since 28 Mar 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 4:25 p.m. PST

I would like to take a solo trip out West sometime in the next few months. I am in South Jersey (Philadlephia area). I figure I can do a week overall, and would rather take a train than fly. What is the best destination?

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 4:27 p.m. PST

Make sure you visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 4:39 p.m. PST

I sincerely believe that every American, and everyone else for that matter, visit Yellowstone NP at least once before they die.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 4:42 p.m. PST

I am thinking more Tombstone and the like, "cowboy" stuff.

Stephen Miller29 Mar 2018 4:46 p.m. PST

Depends on your interests. If Indian Wars, I would recommend 3 days based in Sheridan, Wyoming. Within a 90-minute drive you will find 4 major sites of the IWs, Ft Phil Kearny and the Fetterman Massacre site, Wyoming and Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Battle of the Rosebud in southern Montana; from Sheridan, then its just a half-day (or less) drive to Yellowstone National Park.

If ginfights and outlaws is more to your tastes, then I'd recommend Tombstone and Bisbee in southeast Arizona, and from there, its a 7-hour drive north to the Grand Canyon. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 4:52 p.m. PST

You also might consider the SW part of Colorado. Mining, narrow gauge railroads, ghost towns, great mountain scenery, etc.


Yellow Admiral29 Mar 2018 5:07 p.m. PST

The "American West" is a major portion of a continent. It is mind-bogglingly big, so big it literally wasn't even all mapped until satellite photography existed. Most people from the Northeast have no real concept of the distances involved. Here's how just one state compares to your region:

Taking the train, a week might be enough time to get out here, then turn around and go back. The continent is about 3000 miles wide coast-to-coast.

Except for a few dense urban areas, most of the American West is car-access only. A train will get you out here, but only a rental car will get you around. San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle are probably the best places to visit without renting a car, and in fact a car gets in the way in downtown SF or Seattle.

The landscape is dotted with "Old West" tourist traps. Old Tucson is famous for being a filming location, Calico in California used to be a mining town, they and others like them feature gift shops, restaurants, and the hourly gunfight in the street.

Virginia City in Nevada was weird but fun to visit once. It was an actual Western silver mining boom town in Mark Twain's day (when he lived there), and now it's just a sleepy little backwater with old buildings, funky hotels, some good nearby off-roading, and quirky entertainment like the Camel Races and its attendent parade.

If you want to see actual ghost towns and towns that are becoming ghost towns, drive up Hwy 95 in Nevada. It's an all-day trip between Reno and Las Vegas, and goes right past Area 51. grin

Some other old things to look at:

The petrified forest in AZ is about as old as anything you can visit, and there is a decent museum there too. It's far away from civilization though.

There are Anasazi ruins in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Those are pretty old, but also pretty far away from anything else. (There are also old petroglyphs you can still see view with a short hike, near Las Vegas in Red Rock Canyon.)

There are various Spanish missions preserved as museums in California, but few would consider those worth traveling 3000 miles to see. San Juan Bautista is a fun short visit, and a reasonable drive from the San Francisco area and Monterey peninsula, both of which are common "bucket list" visits for many people. Fremont Peak is also in the vicinity, which isn't anything special, but a short hike with good views and some very obscure historical significance.

- Ix

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian29 Mar 2018 5:10 p.m. PST

A week by train might get you to Omaha or maybe Denver. Easier/cheaper to fly to some of your sites and drive to your destination.

Look at flying into Billings Montana, from there you can get to Yellowstone, Little Big Horn and Mount Rushmore.

laptot Inactive Member29 Mar 2018 5:24 p.m. PST

If you want to see America's trailer parks or endless corn fields take Amtrak. 18 hours is the max I can do on a train. Glacier National Park in Montana is beautiful. Have to be going East however, because the train heading west goes through it at night. Fly then rent a car. Dakota Badlands worth a look. Flagstaff also nice.

jdginaz29 Mar 2018 5:52 p.m. PST

Yeah, forget the train and your going to need a car if you want to visit more than one location. As for visiting Tombstone in the next few months be prepared for 100+ degree weather. Best time for to visit the Southern half of Arizona weather wise is from October through April.

JimSelzer Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 6:06 p.m. PST

you want cowboy go here

Old Tucson Studios  

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 7:15 p.m. PST

A couple other thoughts:
1. Bent's Fort in SE Colorado was a center of trade with the Indians and played a role in the Mexican-American War.
2. The Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY, between Sheridan and Yellowstone, is actually four museums in one: Firearms, William F. Cody, Western Art, and natural history with emphasis on the Old West. If you want to come home with a load of books or a couple prints to hang on the wall, this is the place for you.

And, yes, I'd second the recommendation to go to Sheridan.

Yellow Admiral mentioned that the West is big. It is, but it also covers a significant amount of time from the initial adventures of Lewis and Clark, the mountain men, and trappers to the final battle at Wounded Knee. Figure out what you are really interested in and zero in on that. Once you know more, let us now, and maybe we can point you to other, lesser known sights.


Chris Wimbrow30 Mar 2018 4:59 a.m. PST

I wouldn't want to be limited by trains to get through the rest of the USA. But …

If you can get there, it can be a fantastic 24 hours' worth portion of your week.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2018 5:19 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the suggestions and information. I have to look at the options and see how much time I can spend away from the family. Also, I tend to be cheap when it comes to myself, so I have to decide what I want to spend. I do want to confine the trip to "cowboys and gunfights", so that will help me focus a bit.

jdpintex30 Mar 2018 5:50 a.m. PST

If it's "cowboys & gunfights" then I suggest going to Tombstone and possibly El Paso/New Mexico (for Billy the Kid and his pals – Pat Garret and some other notables are buried in El Paso).

But you'll need a car. And be very prepared for very HOT and very dry weather, especially if it's your first time to the southwest.

Gone Fishing30 Mar 2018 6:16 a.m. PST

You've already received a lot of good advice so I won't add anything except to wish you very happy travelling! Please tell us how it goes when you get back.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian30 Mar 2018 6:26 a.m. PST

Grelber! Thanks for the nod to Sheridan!

JimSelzer Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2018 10:05 a.m. PST

and if you make it to Southern California area The Roy Rogers Museum is nice too

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2018 3:57 p.m. PST

Thanks again to all. Not it just remains for me to get off my retired butt and make plans.

DJCoaltrain31 Mar 2018 12:35 p.m. PST

Arrived in the West in Jan 1968. Still haven't seen all there is to see in the West. If you have a week, pick a place, then visit it. I've been to the Custeer Battlefield three times and there is still more I'd like to see on the battlefields. Don't be overly ambitious because there are so many places to visit, some are in out of the way places that require a special trip just to get there. Deadwood, Tombstone, Little Horn River, Battles of the Nez Perce. Yellow Admiral is quite right about his advice. Everything out here is far apart. And, the deserts are real enough and occur in many places. Also, the wild life is wild and the ones that eat meat are happy to eat people who allow themselves to become soft targets. I can't imagine living anywhere else. Be careful in Montana, it's so much fun you may decide to just stay there. :)

khanscom31 Mar 2018 5:09 p.m. PST

Might I suggest Prescott, AZ (Arizona's original capital) as a possible base of operations? Wyatt Earp did some woodcutting here, one of Doc Holliday's ex's is buried in the local cemetery; lots of period building still exist along Whiskey Row. During the summer there are public events almost every weekend (western art shows, western shootout reenactments, etc.)and the weather is much nicer at 5000 ft. than in Tucson.

If you stretch your period of interest you'll find a statue of Bucky O'neil (Spanish- American War hero) on the courthouse grounds while the local airport is named after Ernest A. Love (WWI fighter pilot killed in France).

And we do have a couple of game stores, too.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2018 5:58 p.m. PST


If you are interested in Cowboys, I would suggest stopping it the cow towns of Kansas ( Abille, Dodge city) Also New Mexico has some nice sites and then go to Tombstone AZ. Finally Monument Valley is worth the time over the Grand canyon.

jowady Inactive Member31 Mar 2018 6:43 p.m. PST

Lincoln in NM still has some of Billy the Kids old haunts. Forget about El Paso unless you have an overwhelming desire to see John Wesley Hardin's Grave. The El Paso "History" Museum is a joke. On Ft Bliss you can see the replica of the old Ft Bliss, North of El Paso you can see the ruins of Ft Selden(boyhood home of Douglas MacArthur and also Mesilla, NM which has a bunch of Billy the Kid stuff ( he was tried there). If you head North Albuquerque old town can be pretty neat and Santa Fe has some cool "western" things as well. And a little North from there are the ACW sites Glorietta Pass and Ft Union. Taos, further North has Kit Carson's home.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP01 Apr 2018 5:12 a.m. PST

If you're looking for Hollywood cowboy, I second the Roy Rogers Museum. Then drive north three hours to Lone Pine and the "Alabama Hills" where so many western movies (and Gunga Din) were filmed. If you make it to San Francisco we can play game with the 54mm toys you painted for me.

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