Many visitors come to the region for the sublime views and superb recreation, but many others come in search of the real West that's slowly but surely fading into the history books. There are pockets of fascinating history that shaped the nation's culture and textbooks, vestiges of the Old West amid the developments of the new in Wyoming and Montana.
Day 1: Arrive in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Begin your day downtown at the beautifully restored Union Pacific Depot and the Cheyenne Depot Museum for a look at how the railroad shaped the history of this part of the West. Pick up their brochure Tracking Trains in Cheyenne, and dig a little deeper into this fascinating chapter. Another interesting (and intertwined) tale is told at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Stay at the historic Nagle Warren Mansion Bed & Breakfast downtown after a dinner at Poor Richard's.
Day 2: Laramie & Saratoga
On your second day, head west into Laramie for a visit to the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, and then continue into the Snowy Range Mountains to visit Saratoga, Centennial, and/or Woods Landing, and stay for the night. Saratoga's historic Hotel Wolf and Woods Landing are particularly interesting.
Day 3: Casper & Buffalo
Return to Laramie, and drive north through the Shirley Basin on U.S. 287 and Wyo. 487 to Casper and the excellent National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Perhaps lunch at the Wonder Bar before continuing north to Hole-in-the-Wall, a hide-out favored by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Stay in Buffalo at the Occidental Hotel. Explore Buffalo's other historic attractions, Fort Phil Kearny and the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, while in town.
Days 4 & 5: Sheridan & Vicinity
From Buffalo, continue north on I-25 to Sheridan for a look at its numerous historic attractions. Use Sheridan as a base for exploring the rest of the area, especially Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the site of Custer's infamous Last Stand. If you're looking for a knowledgeable guide, Ron Spahn of Spahn's Big Horn Mountain Bed and Breakfast offers daylong historic and cultural tours of the area, including spots well off the beaten track.
Day 6: Cody
No Old West trip would be complete without a visit to the town founded by and bearing the name of William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center is a must-visit, with a great look into the life of Cody himself as well as many other aspects of the area's history. Stay at Pahaska Tepee Resort, Buffalo Bill's old hunting lodge, or in town at the Chamberlin Inn.
Day 7: Chief Joseph Scenic Highway
From Cody, drive north out of town and get on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, which connects to the Beartooth Scenic Byway, an awe-inspiring route into Yellowstone National Park. The road follows the route taken by the Nez Perce tribe, which fled the U.S. Army and its attempt to force relocation to Oklahoma. The flight of the Nez Perce in summer 1877 snaked through Yellowstone but ended in Hi-Line country at Bear Paw Battlefield. From here, you could head in that direction and later hit Butte and Montana's Gold West Country for a look at the region's mining history, or into Yellowstone for an adapted version of the first itinerary in this chapter. The Yellowstone Association Institute also offers a number of history-oriented classes and expeditions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.