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Wild West Escapes
Find out how to have your ultimate Gold Rush-inspired vacation with this travel guide to destinations where you can experience the wild, Wild West for yourself.
Lots of people are hooked on Discovery’s most addicting reality show, Gold Rush. While watching the show from home is exciting, what about getting out and having your own adventure? To help you have your own Wild West escape, here are some Gold Rush-inspired trips.
Porcupine Creek, Alaska: Of course, any place that catches Gold Rush star “Dakota” Fred Hurt’s attention should be on the list. Visitors can make their home base in Haines to visit the remote Big Nugget mining site via a Rainbow Glacier Adventures tour. The excursion will give you the opportunity to see a modern gold mine in operation, learn about gold panning and even do some yourself. Make sure to stop by the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center in Haines to learn more about the area’s gold mining history.
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Jasper, Arkansas: To immerse yourself in Old West-culture, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas, offers a rugged outdoor experience. With its laidback atmosphere and surrounding natural beauty, guests typically spend their time outside taking advantage of the many activities like horseback riding, zip lining, canoeing on the Buffalo River, rock climbing, swimming, hiking, caving, elk viewing, skeet and target shooting, fishing, practicing archery, riding wagons and cooking and storytelling over an open fire. There is even a via ferata, a protected climbing route where iron rungs and a steel cable are attached to the rock. Climbers attach themselves to the cable, which allows them to climb and explore the cliff face without needing much experience. Along with the numerous dude ranch activities, Horseshoe Canyon is one of the more budget-friendly dude ranches in the country, although you still get 5-star hospitality.
Bryce Canyon City, Utah: To visit the old stomping ground of outlaws like Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid, and the Rough Riders, head to Utah. In fact, the Old West way of life is still present in Utah today, with modern-day cowboys, Native American tradition, western trails, dude ranches, Old West entertainment and Dutch oven dinners. Make your home base Bryce Canyon City at Ruby’s Inn to be right across from Old Bryce Town, an iconic Old West town with a general store and shops that sell anything from lumber to hand-dipped hard ice cream and fresh baked goods. There’s also the Canyon Rock Shop that showcases fossils, Utah rock and petrified wood. You’re also centrally located near the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park, Scenic Byway 12 and the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument. Another idea for an adventure is to head to the city of Kanab, as it was the setting of over 100 Old Western films and television series like The Lone Ranger, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Daniel Boone. You can learn all about the history of this “Little Hollywood Land” at the free Movie Set Museum.
Go On A Wild West Expedition In South Dakota: Instead of planning your own Wild West trip, let an experienced guide do the work for you. Wild West Expeditions leads journeys through South Dakota that allow you to “re-live the adventures of the wild Wild West.” Some excursions include a Lewis and Clark canoe trip, getting up close to a wandering buffalo herd, being serenaded by old-time cowpoke music, working with cowboys on a working cattle ranch, joining Native Americans in an Indian pow wow, hiking in the Badlands, horseback riding through the back country, and riding in a covered wagon. Wild West Expeditions also provides customized tours to North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska.
Miles City, Montana: Often called “The Real Frontier,” Miles City in Montana was once the home of notorious American Old West-outlaw Butch Cassidy. The city showcases timeless activities like fishing, hunting, rock collecting, bird watching and of course, typical Old West-fare. Wander the streets browsing antique and craft shops or visit the Range Riders Museum to learn about Western history and catch a glimpse of what Miles City looked like over 100 years ago. There are also many outfitters that allow you to experience the outdoors through hunting, as well as Old West saloons and taverns serving cheap beer and whiskey. Don’t miss their famous Bucking Horse Sale in May, with concerts, horse races, cookouts, sheep sheering, rodeos, and dancing.
Jessica Festa, a New York native, is a world traveler who is always looking for a new adventure. She stays active through hiking, and cycling and loves nothing more than her backpack. Follow her travels around the world at jessieonajourney.com and at Epicure & Culture.
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