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: