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.
BUFFALO BILL GRAVE AND MUSEUM
987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Rd., Morrison
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 Buffalo Bill Grave and 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.
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.
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.