They may be romanticized as a part of American culture from days gone by, but cowboys are still very much a part of the United States. In towns across America– big and small–the Old West is anything but old. The cowboy way of life is still alive and well. From Texas to South Dakota, here are 10 historic cowboy towns across the U.S. you should visit.
Pendleton, Oregon is known for the Pendleton Roundup, an annual rodeo that was founded in 1910. The Roundup is within the top 10 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events in terms of prize money.
Located in far West Texas, Alpine is home to an annual cowboy poetry gathering, a two-day event celebrating the oral tradition of cowboys in poems, songs and stories. Some of Texas’ oldest ranches can also be found in Alpine.
Tombstone, Arizona is a historic ghost town that was founded in 1879. The frontier town enjoyed a population boom in the mid-1800s, due to the local mining industry. Tombstone is best known for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, one of the most famous gun battles in Wild West history. Famous lawmen Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were involved in the shootout.
Set in the Sierra Blanca mountain range, Ruidoso is one of the most beautiful and historic cowboy towns in America. The town still embraces its Wild West heritage. Visit the Hubbard Museum of the American West for an in-depth look at Ruidoso’s contribution to western history.
Durango was founded in 1880 to serve the San Juan mining district and its legacy as a western mining hub is still evident. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Guage Museum celebrates the history of the Western town, focusing on the old steam train that’s still in operation.
Sheridan, Wyoming is home to the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, one of the largest rodeos in the nation. Cowboy craftsmen are still a significant part of the fabric of the town. Downtown Sheridan is filled with historic museums, hotels and shops. Visit the King’s Saddlery Museum for a look at an impressive collection of cowboy memorabilia.
Though Dodge City is one of the most infamous towns of the Old West, the cowboy spirit is still alive and well in this Kansas town. Downtown Dodge City has several western-themed attractions, such as the Boot Hill Museum, which displays thousands of artifacts from the town’s early years.
Be sure to visit the Santa Fe Trail Remains, a two-mile section of the historic 12,000- mile Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe Trail Remains are a National Historic Landmark.
Located in the heart of the Big Sky Country, Miles City, Montana is a living ode to cowboy heritage. The Range Riders Museum and the Miles City Saddlery are must-sees. Stop in the historic Montana Bar to drink alongside the Montana cowboys.
Perhaps the best known and most revered cowboy town in America, Deadwood, which rose to prominence during the Gold Rush, is like walking onto the set of a classic western. But Deadwood is no ghost town. The gorgeous South Dakota town at the foot of the Black Hills is as alive as it ever was. There are reminders of wild west legends, such as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, nearly everywhere you look. In fact, the entire city is a National Historic Landmark District.
Stay at the historic Bullock Hotel, which offers beautiful Victorian decor and entertainment at Bully’s Bar, an old west saloon inside the hotel. For a glimpse at modern-day cowboys in action, attend Deadwood’s popular annual rodeo, Days of 76.