Americas Destinations Featured

The Wild West and the Center of the Universe

October 25, 2017
Wild West towns Montana Wyoming

I know I’ve showed you a lot of our Northwest road trip in the last couple of weeks, and yet there was still material left to go through. I promise, this is the last post but it’s close to my heart, because it tells all the great stories a road trip should consist: The planned and spontaneous stops along the road! Wherever and whenever you’re driving for many hours, it’s always important to keep your eyes open for the wild, the beautiful, but sometimes for the surprising and bizarre as well. So here are six highlights in four states we’ve crossed, all worth stopping by:

1. Cody, Wyoming

Right after we started off from Billings, we planned a stop at this little town, just before entering Yellowstone: Cody is named after its founder William Frederick Cody, better known as “Buffalo Bill”, who is one of the most iconic figures of the American Old West. His interesting life as a scout, hunter and entertainer is displayed in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, among many other exhibitions. In fact, this museum is so big that you could  easily spend a full day there.

We didn’t have that much time and continued to explore more of Cody which has a lot of Wild West themed shops and restaurants. There really is loads to see and do there, so if we weren’t on such a tight schedule, we’d have loved to stay there longer!

You should know that my fiance loves anything vintage and “old”, so a visit to the Old Trail Town was a must-do for us! We found a pretty cool Wild West town in a desert-ish setting (although it rained) and the fact that the buildings and artifacts are original (just relocated) adds to the experience!

Claiming to be the “Rodeo Capital of the World”, there are lots of ranches that offer horse-back riding and rodeo shows. As we ran out of time, I could only look at the horses from afar but I can imagine how amazing is must be to explore the hinterland on a horse back…

2. Island Park, Idaho

Not much to tell you about it, except we spend one night by this tranquil lake.

3. Virginia City, Montana

It was a great find along the long drive between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park: Virginia City is the kind of town (it’s more like a village really) where you feel the spirit of the Old West mixed with the “real life” of a functioning village. A living ghost town you could say. That means there are saloons and shops which seem to run pretty well thanks to bypassing visitors like us. It turned out to be one of our favourite places of the whole trip!

4. Missoula, Montana

Finally a real town! Missoula was a nice surprise, it has a hip vibe, good restaurants and cool shops (we especially loved Rocking Rudy’s!) A huge wildfire nearby caused dark clouds that day, but the people were so chilled there, it didn’t seem to bother anyone. It definitely was another place we could’ve spent more time at.

5. Wallace, Idaho

This was a rather random stop and we bumped into their annual Huckleberry Festival (this area loooves huckleberries!), although we were looking for something completely different: I bet you didn’t know that the Center of the Universe is located in a small mining town in Idaho! Me neither, and honestly, I thought it’d be more spectacular. But actually it’s only a sign and a manhole cover. I know Americans have a tendency to exaggerate (you noticed that everything is “world famous” or the “world’s best…”?) but Wallace put it into a whole new level! Well done, Wallace, you gained some reputation for this sleek move 😉

6. Leavenworth, Washington

And if you thought the previous place was strange enough, you haven’t been to Leavenworth yet. The name won’t tell you that this is a complete replica of a Bavarian town: We suddenly found ourselves in a weird mishmash of what foreigners think Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland look like, serving pretty much every stereotype: Lederhosen, Wiener Schnitzel, Polka music, Oktoberfest – you name it. To me it was strangely funny but the mostly American visitors seem to love it! Unfortunately I somehow lost most photos of this place but you can get a pretty good impression on this slide show 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the Northwest! What were your most beautiful or bizarre road trip finds?

Don’t miss the other destinations we visited on this road trip:

From Billings to Vancouver – Postcards from the road

Yellowstone National Park – hiking from geysers to mountains

Glacier National Park – The Alps of America

Eating our way through Seattle

Our short but sweet time in Vancouver

See the Wild West come to life in these authentic (ghost) towns, along some other oddities in the states of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington!

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  • Reply The Wayfarer October 25, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Yep, that’s the States for you! Random German replica towns in the middle of nowhere! Also, that ash cloud over Missoula looks hella cool, even though I know wildfires are hella dangerous. When I was growing up in Southern California and there was a really big fire, it would sometimes turn the sky orange and the sun would glow like an orb. Terrifying, yet cool.

    • Reply sileas October 30, 2017 at 4:22 am

      I know what you mean. Fortunately we never have wildfires that big!

  • Reply SueT唐 梦 琇 October 27, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    You keep posting on this trip Julia, I love reading about your adventures. I love the lake shot and the cans and foodstuffs all lined up in the shop.

    • Reply sileas October 30, 2017 at 4:25 am

      It was pretty cool that they kept it that way, it felt like a journey back in time…

  • Reply Paleica October 31, 2017 at 3:18 am

    der wilde westen, auch irgendwann ein to do auf meiner agenda. hoffentlich. irgendwann mit 12 hab ich mal einen roman gelesen aus dem fundus meiner mutter, so eine richtige raodtripgeschichte einer frau, die mit einer männergruppe im 19. jahrhundert dort übers land reist. reiten in montana oder wyoming ist auch so etwas, das ich unbedingt einmal machen will. so eine wildweststadt haben wir uns ja in kalifornien angeschaut – da gibt es bodie 🙂 das fand cih auch super.
    der bearbeitungsstil besonders der ersten serie ist übrigens ganz speziell gut gelungen!

    • Reply sileas November 3, 2017 at 5:49 am

      Danke! Ein Lob von dir ist immer etwas besonderes 🙂 Der Wilde Westen verkörpert für mich den Stoff aus dem Abenteuer gemacht sind! Und in solchen Städten kann man die zumindest ein bisschen nachempfinden 😉

      • Reply Paleica November 3, 2017 at 8:02 am

        oh das ist aber schön. aber bei dir gibt es eigentlich eh immer nur begeisterung, weil ich deine bilder immer ganz toll finde!
        und ja, so gehts mir definitiv auch!!

  • Reply Kristin Quinn November 3, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Love this. Your pictures are so beautiful!
    I’ve actually been dreaming of going to Leavenworth around Christmastime. Too funny that it seems to be a mix of several cultures! Lol.

    • Reply sileas November 7, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Thank you Kristin! I believe Leavenworth must be quite beautiful during Christmas 😉

  • Reply damecacao November 4, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Woah, these photos are gorgeous! I haven’t ever been on a roadtrip… but I have been to some bizarre towns! An hour from my town here in Korea is “Safety Town,” where all the elementary students in the area go once a year to “learn about safety” through games. It’s so strange.

    • Reply sileas November 7, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Ah good to know! I’m planning to go to Korea soon, so I’ll keep it in mind 😉

  • Reply Christina November 5, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    a really interesting mix of different places to explore! the Bavarian/Austrian/Swiss replica looked pretty funny indeed 😀 and who decided that the center of the universe is actually in Wallace?! 😀 that’s so random. haha 😀

    • Reply sileas November 7, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Both – Leavenworth and Wallace found their own strange way to attract more tourists… I guess it worked for them 😀

  • Reply From Billings to Vancouver - Postcards from the road - sweet/escapes November 19, 2017 at 8:10 pm

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  • Reply Sam Solo November 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I would see a bit of the wild west remains on my way to visit family in Wyoming. It’s really fascinating that we have all the rich history in the Midwest and that some of it is still standing. I would absolutely love to take a trip around the country and visit the historic sites just like you did.

    • Reply sileas November 28, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Yeah it’s indeed fascinating! History came to life!

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