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8 Historic Wild West Settlements You’ll Want to Add to Your Bucket List

Did you know you can still visit these historic Wild West settlements?

Must See Places is taking you on an exciting journey as we explore the historic Wild West settlements that will ignite your sense of adventure! These US places stand as living testaments to the American frontier’s rugged spirit and untamed appeal.

Envision dusty streets bustling with cowboys, saloons echoing with vibrant music, and tales of brave outlaws whispered around campfires. In these historic Wild West settlements, every weathered signpost and creaky wooden building tells a story of the past.

From the famous streets of Tombstone to charming hidden gems like Deadwood, each destination offers a glimpse into a bygone era filled with hardship, bravery, and opportunity.

So whether you’re a fan of Western movies, a history buff, or simply looking for a unique travel experience, these 8 towns are a must-add to your bucket list. Saddle up, partner, and get ready to ride through time in these iconic historic Wild West settlements!

Historic Wild West Settlement
Photo by Pierre Jean Durieu at Shutterstock

Deadwood, South Dakota

This 1870s gold-rush town is where Wild Bill Hickok took his last breath and it still holds on to much of its Wild West history. There’s even a model of the chair in which he was shot in the Saloon #10 bar.

While visiting this historic Wild West settlement, you can pay your respects to the well-known outlaw at the Mount Moriah Cemetery, where he’s still buried next to fellow sharpshooter Calamity Jane.

If you visit in the summertime, you can catch reenactments of some of its former citizens’ famous gun battles. While here, make sure you also visit the Broken Boot Gold Mine to look for gold or the Days of ’76 Museum to imagine riding in one of the vintage stagecoaches.

One thing’s certain, though: it’s much more charming now than in the boomtown days.

Tombstone, Arizona

Thirty seconds was all it took to immortalize Tombstone. That’s how long the famed gunfight at the OK Corral lasted in 1881, pitting the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday against the outlaw gang The Cowboys.

Nowadays, you can witness daily reenactments of the infamous shootout on the exact spot where it took place if you visit this historic Wild West settlement. And there are more gunfight shows to see at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park.

But over at the notorious 1880s spot, the Bird Cage Theater, there are 140 bullet holes in the walls that also show this former silver-mining town’s dangerous, lawless past.

Cody, Wyoming

A famous hero co-founded this historic Wild West settlement: Buffalo Bill Cody, whose Wild West shows helped make rodeoing popular in the late 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

Nowadays, Cody earns its reputation as the “Rodeo Capital of the World” every summer by hosting the 2-month-long Nite Rodeo.

You can learn about this place’s well-known founder at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which has a whopping five museums under one roof, or Old Trail Town, which features replications of historic buildings, including a hideaway used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Bandera, Texas

Throughout the 19th century, Bandera sat at the southern rear of the Great Western Cattle Trail, along which hard-working ranchers would move their livestock to markets in the north and east.

But these days, the so-called “Cowboy Capital of the World” still keeps its ranching traditions alive. This area is where you can saddle up for modern-day cowboying at a working ranch, visit a honky-tonk bar, or watch blacksmiths in action.

Many annual festivals also keep the frontier flame alive. But there’s plenty of history to learn if you see this historic Wild West settlement. You can visit the Wild West exhibits at the Frontier Times Museum or check out the original courthouse and jail.

…Better pack your cowboy boots for this one folks!

Historic Wild West Settlement
Photo by RaksyBH at Shutterstock

Dodge City, Kansas

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday once patrolled this historic Wild West settlement and cleaned up its act since it was known as America’s wildest and wickedest place.

In those days, it was bursting with brothels, saloons, and outlaws who were attracted by the wealth generated by the vast numbers of cattle driven throughout the area.

When visiting, you can see how things used to look at the Boot Hill Museum, you can take a stroll down a replica of the city’s main street from 1876 and enjoy a beer at the famous Long Branch Saloon.

You can also discover a slice of the past by getting on the Historic Trolley Tour or taking a stroll on the Dodge City Trail of Fame. The summer Dodge City Days festival includes a longhorn cattle drive through the streets and many rodeoing events.

Sheridan, Wyoming

The region of Sheridan first gained a reputation as the staging area for General Crook’s campaigns throughout the Great Sioux War.

In 1882, the area was surveyed for a townsite named after Philip Sheridan, the Union general under whom John Loucks, its first mayor, served when he was in the army. They gained regional importance when the Burlington and Missouri Railroad connected it.

Coal mines along Tongue River Valley and the Goose Creek turned Sheridan into a boom town. Early days, like other historic Wild West settlements, were dominated by the shady side of life.

It featured colorful characters like William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, also an investor in the Sheridan Inn. He used it as his headquarters during his Wild West show tryouts.

The population steadily grew so that by 1910, it was 8,408. By this time, the state’s population had become diverse, including immigrants from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, African Americans, and Latinos.

After those years, Sheridan’s economy went through a couple of ups and downs. But it ultimately found stability in dude ranches, tourism, and the coming of Sheridan College in 1948.

Today, Sheridan is the region’s economic center and has a deeply rooted connection to its historic past. Some come for its famous rodeos and views of the Big Horn mountains, while others wish to see the unique art of Native Americans at the Brinton Museum.

Virginia City, Nevada

This historic Wild West settlement exploded into existence in 1859 due to the finding of the Comstock Lode, which is the first major deposit of silver ore unearthed in our nation.

The discovery sent ripples through money markets and helped build what we now know as San Francisco. Thousands of individuals descended on the city, including a young Mark Twain, who worked in Virginia City as a reporter. All the silver, gold, and prospectors are long gone now.

But the area maintains a strong Wild West feel with wooden sidewalks, steam train rides on the V&T railway, tours of the old Chollar Mine and Comstock Gold Mill, 17 museums, and the Ponderosa Saloon, featuring an 1860s walk-in bank vault and an abandoned mine shaft under its bar.

Historic Wild West Settlement
Photo by Julie Gropp at Shutterstock

Silverton, Colorado

This historic Wild West settlement was another silver-mining boomtown in the San Juan Mountains. Its glory days were in the 1870s and 80s when it became infamous for its notorious Blair Street red-light district.

But mining continued here all the way until 1992, alongside the growing Wild West tourism industry. When visiting, you can check out the One Hundred Gold Mine tour, which will take you on a train journey into the core of the mountain and the closeby ghost town of Animas Forks.

And don’t miss a steam train ride on the steep Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad 45 miles to Durango, where you’ll find more incredible Old West heritage.

Have you ever been to any of these historic Wild West settlements? If so, be sure to leave a comment to tell us about your experience.

And if you liked this post, Must See Places has many more exciting spots for you to visit! For instance, we highly recommend checking out: 9 Most Colorful Places in the US for Your Travel Bucket List

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