DENVER'S OLD WEST ATTRACTIONS
Despite its metropolitan, 21st-Century leanings, Denver still retains a good deal of its Old West legacy. Around every corner, you’ll find some remnant of the pioneer era, as the past blends seamlessly into the present. Take some time to explore the city's bygone days by visiting a few of the attractions below.
History Colorado Center
1300 Broadway St., Denver http://www.historycoloradocenter.org
Celebrate Colorado’s glorious landscapes on a three-story multimedia presentation. Traverse an 80-foot map of the state using a “time machine.” Virtually travel the plains in a Model T Ford. Don a headlamp and descend into the hard rock mine of Silverton. Soar off the world’s first ski jump in Steamboat Springs. Do all this and more among Colorado’s most historic treasures. True Colorado experiences come alive at the History Colorado Center, located in Downtown Denver.
American Museum of Western Art
1727 Tremont Place, Denver http://www.anschutzcollection.org
A brand-new addition to Denver's art scene, this astounding, 26,000-square-foot museum features masterpieces from the Anschutz Collection, including frontier-inspired works by Frederic Remington, George Catlin and Charles Marion Russell.
Buffalo Bill's Grave and Museum
987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Rd., Morrison, CO http://www.buffalobill.org/
One of the most famous cowboys ever to put on a pair of spurs, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody epitomized the Old West. After leaving his boyhood home in Leavenworth, Kansas at age 11, Cody went on to become a cattle herder, worked on a wagon train, mined for gold, rode in the Pony Express, scouted for the Army, and traveled the world with his namesake Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows. Upon his request he was buried atop Lookout Mountain, just a short drive from Denver, in 1917. Lookout Mountain’s name is well earned: it boasts one of the best views in all of Colorado – and that’s saying something!
The museum opened in 1921 and offers a look into life in the Old West, with exhibits on Buffalo Bill’s life, the Wild West shows, Indian artifacts including Sitting Bull’s bows and arrows, Western art, and firearms. On February 21, the museum hosts a Buffalo Bill Birthday Celebration, featuring costumed volunteers discussing the Native Americans, buffalo and cowboys that were such a vital part of Buffalo Bill’s life. While you're in the area, check out the City of Denver's Buffalo Herd Nature Preserve (20 miles west of Denver at I-70, Exit 250), with 40 buffalo in a natural setting -- the only city-maintained herd in the country. Afterwards, enjoy downtown Golden, with shops, restaurants and plenty of Old West ambiance.
Black American West Museum
3055 California St. http://www.blackamericanwestmuseum.com/
For decades Hollywood westerns depicted a Wild West that was populated almost entirely by white people. The Black American West Museum puts this myth to rest permanently by highlighting the prominent role Blacks played in the settlement of Colorado as miners, soldiers, homesteaders, schoolteachers, ranchers, blacksmiths, cowboys and lawmen. This fascinating museum, located in the former home of Colorado’s first Black woman doctor, hosts countless photographs, artifacts and interactive exhibits that tell the story of the Wild West through a different lens.
Four Mile Historic Park
715 S. Forest St. http://www.fourmilehistoricpark.org/
On the banks of Cherry Creek, just four miles from Downtown Denver, the true-to-its-name Four Mile Historic Park’s pastoral 12 acres feature Denver’s oldest standing structure, pioneer exhibits, special events for all ages, and guided tours that transport visitors to Colorado’s frontier past. Once a wayside inn and stage stop, the Four Mile House and grounds offer a unique Old West experience. In addition to museum and grounds tours, family activities include annual special events, such as an Old-Fashioned July 4th Celebration; the Great Pumpkin Harvest Festival in October, and traditional holiday festivities at A Colorado Christmas.
Rockmount Ranch Wear
1626 Wazee St. (Rockmount Ranch Wear) http://www.rockmount.com/
No cowboy tour of Denver would be complete without buying, or at least considering, some of the clothing popularized by these hardy souls. A Denver original, fashion pioneer and CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear, Papa Jack Weil – who passed away in 2008 at the grand old age of 107 – invented the western snap-button shirt and opened shop back in 1946. He sold his shirts to presidents and rock stars alike including Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen. Stop by the flagship store and museum to browse the incredible selection of Western-style shirts, hats and accessories. Over in nearby Larimer Square, you’ll find Crybaby Ranch, a one-of-a-kind shop offering a variety of boots, clothing, collectibles and home accessories. Specializing in 1940s and 1950s nostalgic cowboy fare, the store has attracted a host of celebrity clients, including Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen, who both purchased their custom-designed Liberty boots here.
Civic Center Park
100 W. 14th Pkwy. http://www.denvergov.org/
Civic Center Park is a two-block oasis filled with flower gardens and Old West art, located a stone’s throw from Colorado’s magnificent Capitol Building. Check out Allen True’s murals, located in the park's Greek Theatre, depicting pioneers in the wilderness, and the two Western-themed bronze statues, Bronco Buster and On the War Trail, by Denverite Alexander Phimister Proctor.
Western American Art Collection at the Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. http://www.denverartmuseum.org/
The Denver Art Museum’s extensive collection includes work by Western masters such as George Catlin, Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, John Mix Stanley, Alfred Jacob Miller, and others. The crown jewel in the institute's collection is Charles Deas’s Long Jakes, The Rocky Mountain Man
, the single most influential image in Rocky Mountain iconography.