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Home  >  History & Culture  >  Historical Attractions

Historical Attractions

The Past Comes To Life At Fascinating Rocky Mountain Historic Sites

The history of the West is the history of America itself. Today, people worldwide continued to be fascinated by the American West through movies, television, books, and Broadway musicals. But out here the past isn’t a dusty relic – it’s vividly alive. Some Rocky Mountain historic artifacts are preserved in first-class museums while others remain much as they were centuries ago. There’s something special about seeing old wagon ruts, battlefields, Indian camps, prairie homesteads, and thousand-year-old cave drawings. The voices of those who traveled before seem to welcome you at our Northern Rocky Mountains historical sites.

  • Glacier National Park  – Called “North America’s Crown Jewel”. Boasts more than 700 miles of maintained trails, sparkling lakes, alpine glaciers, deep forests, and wildlife large and small. www.nps.gov/glac/
  • Yellowstone National Park  – The world’s first national park. Hike or backpack amid steaming hot springs, shooting geysers, roaring waterfalls, and herds of wildlife. www.nps.gov/yell/
  • Waterton Lakes National Park – Spanning 203 miles of rugged mountains and wilderness. Part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, designated as a World Heritage Site for its scenery and wealth of plant and animal species. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/Waterton/index_e.asp
  • Grand Teton National Park  – Grand Teton preserves a spectacular landscape rich with majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and extraordinary wildlife. The abrupt vertical rise of the jagged Teton Range contrasts with the horizontal sage-covered valley and glacial lakes at its base, creating world-renowned scenery that attracts nearly four million visitors per year. www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm
  • Nez Perce National Historical Park  – Since time immemorial, the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce have lived among the rivers, canyons, and prairies of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Despite the cataclysmic change of the past two centuries, the Nez Perce are still here. Explore the park's 38 sites and experience the story of a people who are still part of this landscape. The park Visitor Center at Spalding provides insight into ancient, recent, and contemporary Nez Perce history and culture. (Directions: The Spalding Visitor Center is 11 miles east of Lewiston of U.S. Hwy 95). 208-843-7001. www.nps.gov/nepe/
  • Hells Canyon National Recreation Area  – Hugging the borders of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho, this national showcase holds 652,488 acres of beauty and adventure, where you can let your senses run as wild as the landscape. Features North America’s deepest gorge. www.fs.fed.us/hellscanyon/
  • Sawtooth National Recreation Area  – One of the largest, most magnificent National Recreation Areas in the United States. Four mountain ranges -- the Sawtooths, Boulders, White Clouds, and Smokies -- provide scenic landscapes in every direction, with more than 50 major peaks over 10,000 feet, 300 lakes, and 250 miles of trails. There are also more than 1,000 high mountain lakes. www.fs.fed.us/r4/sawtooth/
  • Sawtooth Fish Hatchery  - A facility built to help restore salmon and steelhead to their traditional waters. Summer tours Memorial Day through Labor Day. Three tours per day. 5.8 miles So. Of Stanley on Hwy 75 between mileposts 183-184 www.stanleycc.org
  • Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area  – The canyon offers a diversified landscape of forest, mountains, upland prairie, deep canyons, broad valleys, high desert, lakes, and wetlands. www.nps.gov/BICA
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument Park  – Contain more than 25 volcanic cones, including outstanding examples of spatter cones. The 60 distinct lava flows that form the Craters of the Moon Lava Field range in age from 15,000 to 2,000 years. www.nps.gov/crmo/
  • Yoho National Park  – One of Canada’s 41 national parks. Yoho is home to surging waters, looming peaks, pounding waterfalls, glacial lakes, and patches of pretty meadows. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/index_E.asp
  • Kootenay National Park  – From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows, Kootenay National Park is noted for its diversity of landscapes, ecology, and climate. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/kootenay/index_E.asp
  • Banff National Park  – Canada’s first national park. Spanning 2,564 square miles of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, and rivers, Banff is one of the world's premier destination spots. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index_E.asp
  • History of Fire Tower Lookouts and Cabin Rentals - Learn about early days of fire fighting in Montana and Idaho by renting a fire lookout!  Learn more here .
  • Pompeys Pillar  – One of America’s most famous sandstone buttes. It bears the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, appearing on the trail today as it did 200 years ago. On the face of the 150-foot butte, Captain William Clark carved his name on July 25, 1806, during his return to the United States through the Yellowstone Valley. www.pompeyspillar.org/
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield  – Memorializes one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their way of life. In 1876, 263 soldiers and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer, met death at the hands of several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. www.nps.gov/libi/
  • Fossil Butte National Monument  – Contains 8,198 acres and protects a portion of the largest deposit of freshwater fish fossils in the world. The Visitors Center itself showcases more than 80 fossils, including a 13-foot crocodile, the oldest articulated bat, and a mass mortality of 356 fish. www.nps.gov/fobu/
  • Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area  – Flaming Gorge is a huge reservoir providing outstanding opportunity for boating, fishing, skiing, jet skiing, houseboating, and other water sports. It’s also famous for its trophy lake trout, and a good number of 30-plus-pound fish are caught each year. www.wyomingtourism.org/overview/Flaming-Gorge-Recreation-Area/32475
  • Buffalo Bill Historical Center  – Features the Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Draper Museum of Natural History, and Buffalo Bill Museum. www.bbhc.org
  • Irma Hotel  – The 1902 landmark built by Buffalo Bill Cody, named after his daughter. www.irmahotel.com
  • Captain John Mullan Museum  – Exhibits of historical furnishings, vintage clothing, and photographs celebrate the building of the Mullan Road. (208) 744-1461; www.visitidaho.org/thingstodo/museums/captain-john-mullan-museum.aspx
  • Oasis Bordello Museum  – Explore the bawdy side of a mining-era town in this former bordello house. (208) 753-0801; myweb.celbridge.net/jmmayfield
  • Custer Museum and Ghost town , Stanley, ID -- Enjoy mining history. Also located nearby is the Boot Hill Cemetery - read the old tombstones and learn about yesterday's history. Open daily, mid-June through Labor Day. 13 miles N. of Stanley on Hwy75, then N 5 miles on Yankee Fork Road. Junction between milepost 202 and 203. www.stanleycc.org
  • Travelers' Rest State Park -- Travelers' Rest State Park marks the location of a centuries-old Native American campsite that Lewis and Clark's used in 1805 and 1806. This National Historic Landmark, located just 8 miles south of Missoula, is the only archeologically verified campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the nation. (406) 273-4253; fwp.mt.gov/lands/site_2233810.aspx
  • Conrad Mansion Museum  – The most beautifully preserved pre-1900 mansion in Montana. Original family furnishings are located throughout the 26 rooms (including three bathrooms), allowing visitors to experience the elegance of a bygone era. www.conradmansion.com/
  • Hockaday Museum of Art  -- Focuses on the art of Montana and the state’s artists, with an emphasis on the art of Glacier National Park. The museum is housed in a turn-of-the-century Carnegie Library Building listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. www.hockadaymuseum.org/
  • DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove -- The two short trails loop through the beautiful western red cedar grove where DeVoto edited the Lewis and Clark journals. These massive trees live up to 3,000 years. www.northcentralidaho.org
  • Lochsa Historical Ranger  -- This 1920s backcountry ranger station interprets the daily life of US Forest Service personnel who worked in remote and rugged national forest lands. www.northcentralidaho.org
  • Heart of the Monster  -- Legend cites this as the source of creation of the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce Tribe. 208-843-7001; www.nps.gov
  • Historical Museum at St Gertrude’s  – Over 70,000 artifacts from the early history of the region including Nez Perce, Asian, and early pioneers. 208-962-2050; www.historicalmuseumatstgertrude.com
  • Hells Canyon  – North America’s deepest river gorge. Petroglyphs are visible throughout the canyon. Enjoy historic ranches and native American culture. www.fs.fed.us/hellscanyon
  • Museum at Central School  -- Features both rotating and permanent collections of the Flathead Valley, Indians of Montana, and more. The Museum is the “keeper” of most historical documents and artifacts for the valley. www.yourmuseum.org/
  • Appaloosa Horse Museum – Exhibits explore the evolution of the breed from the Palouse region and its influence on the Nez Perce and western cultures. 208-882-5578; www.appaloosamuseum.org
  • Sunbeam Hot Springs  - Hot springs pools created at the edge of the Salmon River, where 170 degree water mixes with the cool river water for a delightful, soothing dip. Restrooms and dressing rooms on site. 12 miles N. of Stanley on river side of Hwy. 75 between mileposts 201 and 202. www.stanleycc.org
  • Basin Creek Hotsprings  - Unimproved natural hot springs flow out of the rocks and into the Salmon River. Users have piled rocks to create pools for soaking and relaxing. 8.3 miles N. of Stanley on river side of Hwy. 75 between mileposts 187 and 198. www.stanleycc.org
  • Virginia City and Nevada City (Montana)  – Born during an 1863 gold rush, Virginia City has served as Montana’s territorial capitol, a venue for colorful law-abiding and lawless activities. Nearby Nevada City remains a historic treasure, telling a great Montana story. http://virginiacitymt.com/  
  • Butte and Anaconda  – The Butte-Anaconda National Historic Landmark is one of the nation’s largest heritage properties highlighting the richness of the stories told here about mining, labor-industry politics, entertainment, and ethnic communities. http://www.buttecvb.com/Attractions.html ; http://www.anacondamt.org/
  • Museum of the Plains Indian  – In Browning, the heart of the Blackfeet Nation on Glacier Park’s east side, you’ll find displays of the richly varied arts of Northern Plains Tribal people -- including the Blackfeet, Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Sioux, Assiniboine, Arapaho, Shoshone, Nez Perce, Flathead, Chippewa, and Cree. Their historic clothing, horse gear, weapons, household implements, baby carriers, and toys highlight the exhibits. www.iacb.doi.gov/museums/museum_plains.html
  • The People’s Center  – In Pablo, the tribal headquarters for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, this unique cultural center provides a vital, living encounter with Native American culture through its exhibit gallery, educational programs, and Native Ed-Venture interpretive tours focusing on heritage, natural history, and cultural interpretation. www.peoplescenter.net/
  • Red Lodge  -- Nestled in the foothills of the magnificent Beartooth Mountains, much of the historic downtown business district is locally owned and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. www.redlodgechamber.org/
  • Livingston  – The original northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Livingston’s Main Street and historic districts feature many buildings from the 1880s and 1890s, now offering vibrant shops, restaurants, art galleries, and entertainment venues.
  • JH Historic Society  – The museum features various exhibits highlighting the history of Jackson Hole and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The collection contains over 12,000 artifacts, including American Indian pottery, weapons, and stone tools. Other important collections include fur trade-era tools and firearms. www.jacksonholehistory.org
  • Fremont County Museum – Celebrating the pioneer history of Fremont and Lander. www.fcpm.org/
  • Dubois Museum  – A living history museum that preserves and interprets the legacy of the Upper Wind River Valley. Museum exhibits focus on the Mountain Shoshone who were the first inhabitants of the valley, the homesteaders who settled in the late 1800s, and the Scandinavian loggers (tie hacks) who cut railroad ties for the nation's railroads in the national forests near Dubois. www.duboismuseum.org/
  • South Pass City Historic Site  – Wyoming's "City of Gold". South Pass City has been faithfully restored to the period of its last big gold rush during the late 1800s. www.southpasscity.com/
  • Museum of the Mountain Man (Pinedale, WY) -- http://www.museumofthemountainman.com/  
  • Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center  -- Managed by the US Forest Service, the 25,000 square-foot building includes the permanent exhibit hall, a 158-seat theater, an education room for hands-on curriculum-based activities, and a retail store. (406) 727-8733; www.fs.fed.us/r1/lewisclark/lcic/
  • The Darby Historical Center --Operated by the Friends of the Darby Historical Center, a not for profit organization. The Historic Darby Center is a working museum that interprets the history of the Forest Service in the Northern Rockies. Visit the Bitterroot National Forest website: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/bitterroot/vis/index.shtml
  • Yankee Fork Gold Dredge  - A restored gold dredge on the site of its former operations. Open July 1 through Labor Day. Near Custer Museum. 13 miles N. of Stanley on Hwy75, then N 5 miles on Yankee Fork Road. Junction between milepost 202 and 203. www.stanleycc.org

Experience The Spirit Of The Old West At Rocky Mountain Historical Attractions

Reach extraordinary new heights of travel. Use the Top 10 Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies to experience truly unforgettable Rocky Mountain historic sites.