Places to dream about visiting until we can travel again ...
We may not be able to travel and visit the places we'd like to right now, but that doesn't mean we can't begin to make plans down the road.
Tales of gold mining, gun-slinging, and cattle-rustling have lit up the silver screen for years. Ever wanted to visit some of these places or learn more about the “real” Wild Wild West? Whether you’re interested in the Colorado gold rush, westward expansion, the unique landscape of the Old West, or Buffalo Bill and the gang, it can all be found within a few miles of Denver.
Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
987 ½ Lookout Mountain Road
Golden, Co 80401
Nobody personifies the Old West better than cattle herder, Pony Express rider, gold miner, Army scout, and entertainer William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Opened in 1921, the Buffalo Bill Museum features exhibits on Buffalo Bill’s life, including recordings of his voice, firearms of the Wild West, and Indian artifacts like Sitting Bull’s bow and arrows and peace pipe as well as western art, paintings, posters, and photographs. There’s also lots of information on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which started in 1883 as a touring show with animal tricks, theatrical reenactments, and performances. The gravesite can be found at Lookout Mountain.
Colorado Railroad Museum
17155 W. 44th Avenue
Golden, Colorado 80403
The railroad made a vital impact on westward expansion and settlement of the western states. Built in 1959, the Colorado Railroad Museum is designed to resemble an 1880-era train depot. It even has the yellow and brown colors of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Spend a fun day looking at exhibits on 125 years of western railroad history, including uniforms, model railroad collections, westward expansion, and paintings and photos by prominent western-American artists and photographers like Ted Rose.
The 15-acre railyard has passenger cars, cabooses, steam and diesel locomotives, and more. Check out on-going restoration work at the roundhouse “radial” tracks. You can also take a train ride. Special events and themed train rides like The Polar Express Train Ride and a Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine are fun for kids of all ages.
American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection
1727 Tremont Pl.
Denver, Co 80202
The American Museum of Western Art’s Anschutz Collection contains more than 600 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the 1800s to the present. You’ll find modernism, expressionism, abstract, and cubism all with a focus on the lifestyle, landscape, and adventure of the Old West. It’s housed in the Victorian Navarre Building and features artists such as Frederic Remington, George Catlin, Charles Christian Nahl, Kim Wiggins, and John Marin.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
6550 Gateway Road
Denver, Colorado 80239
Alright, now it's time for western wildlife. Part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 300 species of birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles. There are more than 15,000 acres of prairie, lakes, and plains. You could come across American bison, deer, coyotes, great horned owls, bald eagles, and other plains animals. You can take a guided wildlife tour, participate in nature programs, or go fishing, and hiking. There’s also a Wildlife Drive if you like the comfort of your own wagon or SUV.
2300 South Platte River
Denver, Colorado 80223
We couldn’t leave Denver without a peek into prospector life. Established during the Pike’s Peak gold rush in 1858, Montana City was the first settlement in Denver. Gold from the South Platte River made it a prime destination. The area is now known as Grant Frontier Park. There’s a replica of a log cabin as well as mining equipment, a Conestoga wagon, and other historic artifacts.
Have you been to any of these Old West Colorado attractions? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.