If experiencing the Wild West is something you’ve always wanted to do, you don’t have to wait for a time machine to be invented – and, in this case, you won’t have to worry about getting shot down in the streets. Although in reality, it was actually illegal to carry a firearm and the second most common cause of arrest. Shootouts were more likely to occur when a Marshall was trying to enforce that very law.
There are several fantastic towns in the U.S. that boast a real Wild West feel that is so authentic you might think you’ve truly stepped back into America’s pioneering days.
Deadwood, South Dakota
One of the most legendary towns of the Old West, partially thanks to the hit HBO series “Deadwood,” this gold rush town that’s tucked into the Black Hills of South Dakota is the place where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back while playing poker in the summer of 1876. It was the real deal, with thousands flocking here after large gold deposits were discovered in the area in November 1875. While it’s been polished up a bit, it’s the ideal destination for reliving the days of the Wild West. Visitors can visit the grave of Wild Bill, tour the Adams House Museum which sits within a magnificent Queen Anne-style mansion, watch an old-fashioned shootout in the streets, pan for gold at the Lost Boot Mine, and test their luck on the tables and slots.
Fort Worth, Texas
If you’ve been thinking about moving to a place where you’ll find plenty of modern conveniences while having easy access to a thriving Wild West culture, be sure to search through the Dallas real estate options. The city is famous for its shopping and wide range of outstanding eateries, yet right next door is the town of Fort Worth, renowned for its cowboy culture and hosting the Fort Worth Historic Stockyards. The former meatpacking area and livestock yard is the ultimate for experiencing the sights and sounds of the Wild West. Transformed into one of the country’s premier Western tourist venues, it’s one of the few spots where you can catch rodeo performances all year round. You can also watch the herd of 15 Texas Longhorns “driven” down Exchange Avenue in a cattle drive, a frequent occurrence from 1866 to 1890 when more than 4 million head of cattle were driven through Fort Worth, leading it to be called “Cowtown.”
This Wild West frontier town known often referred to as “too tough to die,” was the very spot where the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place. The 30-second gunfight in 1881 pitted Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers against the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. Find out who won, if you don’t already know the history, with a visit. Taking a stroll through you can practically hear the gunfire, the whoops and hollers in the saloons and the clip-clop of buck boards on the dirt streets.
Cripple Creek, Colorado
The site of Colorado’s greatest mining boom, Cripple Creek was home to over 55,000 at its peak in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the possibility of riches attracting countless treasure seekers, along with the dregs of society who hoped to profit off them. Today, there are only some 1,100 residents, but you’ll find numerous remnants of its early years. Experience shootout reenactments in the streets, ride the rickety cage at the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine to descend some 1,000 feet underground, catch a melodrama at the historic Butte Theater, and tour the Old Homestead, the town’s former brothel now museum, that features many of the original furnishings, including elaborate chandeliers, velvet draperies and crystal gaslights.