Catch a reenactment of a historical gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz. // © 2015 Creative Commons user bbcworldservice
Feature image (above): Deadwood, S.D., is home to Old West characters including Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. // © 2015 Creative Commons user kkanouse
The Wild West is alive and well in five Western U.S. towns that deliver on cowboy culture, mining history and good old-fashioned Americana. Find legends, lore and plenty of tourism gold in any of the following five Wild West towns.
In the backyard of beautiful Yellowstone National Park, the city of Cody in Wyoming is home to hunter Buffalo Bill Cody and retains its western charm in an authentic way. This is a town that could have become touristy, but remained country instead.
It’s not uncommon to see cowboys kicking up dust with their boots in the street, and every night in summer, Cody Nite Rodeo reigns (no pun intended). Visitors can learn all about area history in the massive Buffalo Bill Center of the West, or explore frontier life up-close and personal at Cody Trail Town.
What Else to Do in Town: Head to Cassie’s Supper Club for an authentic Western atmosphere, or drive south to Thermopolis, Wyo., to take a dip in natural hot springs.
Home of Old West characters such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, Deadwood, S.D., used to be considered one of the most notorious Western towns. Nestled in a notch of the scenic Black Hills, Main Street’s shootouts now consist of daily historic reenactments, though visitors can still gamble in Deadwood’s many casinos.
Have a drink (and lose a buck or two) at Saloon 10, in sight of the chair Hickok sat in the night he died. In warm-weather months, a stroll up to Mount Moriah Cemetery sheds further light on days gone by.
What Else to Do in Town: Bike ride along the George S. Mickelson Trail, drive to Mount Rushmore or visit historic town of Custer.
Dodge City, Kan.
Visitors who get the heck into Dodge, Kan., instead of out of it, find a storied history that includes characters ranging from local sheriffs to ladies of the night. For the best taste of the Old West, head to Boothill Museum and then stay for its dinner and show, which includes extensive displays followed by authentic Kansas beef.
Specialty tour guides accommodate large groups, and a trolley takes visitors from one historic site to another.
What Else to Do in Town: Play a round of golf at Mariah Hills Golf Course.
The entire town of Tombstone, Ariz., enjoys National Historic Landmark status and remains one of the best examples of rugged frontier history. Take a walking tour to “meet” Tombstone’s earliest residents, such as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, or try an evening ghost tour if you like your history tinged with goose bumps.
Definitely see the O.K. Corral, site of a famous shootout, but don’t overlook the fun food culture in town. For American fare with a cowboy spirit, head to Crystal Palace Saloon.
What Else to Do in Town: Explore more of southern Arizona, including Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
Virginia City, Nev.
Once declared “the richest place on earth,” Virginia City is just miles from Reno, Nev., in craggy high desert. Visitors can take a historic trolley tour to get their bearings and then dip into one of many silver mines penetrating the earth here (the entrance to some are even inside local saloons). Above ground, enjoy an even spookier take on Wild West history with a ghost tour or cemetery tour.
What Else to Do in Town: Look for the wild horses that still roam Northern Nevada, and be sure to get the Comstock Adventure Pass for tour and site savings.