Bison in the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Shutterstock by Megan Brady.

The mythic frontier barreled into Seattle on September 17, 1908, when a parade of wagons from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show inched south down Broadway en route to erect an arena for 14,000 spectators. When the chuck wagon’s brakes gave way near the intersection of Spruce, it careened down Broadway and flattened one of the six draft horses pulling it. The untamed frontier was literally unstoppable.

The Wild West has always been a strange concept for the Pacific Northwest; that legendary land of open range and adventure is to our east, after all. What does an amorphous region known for big hats and six-shooters mean to us? Was it Wyoming, or California, or Montana, or just anything that touches the Rocky Mountains? For all the romance and the little dogies gittin’ along, the idea of the Wild West comes with a brashness that runs contrary to PNW restraint.

But the concept of the American West has continued to evolve since the day Buffalo Bill led his traveling circus of sharpshooters down Seattle’s hills. “The West” is an idea woven into beautiful places just past our borders. We’re drawn to a landscape both familiar—the jagged peaks, the thick forests—and foreign, like broad, grassy prairies. Today we go to the West for nature, for history, for a uniquely American brand of fun.

 

In This Feature:

Tiny Cody, Wyoming, Invented the Wild West

Buffalo Bill built the town, and it's since erected a museum to new views...five times over.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

6 Famous Figures on Buffalo Bill's Contact List

An army scout turned consummate showman, Cody knew practically everyone worth knowing in the West.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

Huntsville, Utah, Is All About Night Life

One Utah town is going beyond the green of environmentalism, straight to pitch black.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

Ski Sustainably on These Utah Slopes

In the face of climate change, Utah’s famed snow playgrounds are getting serious about green initiatives.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

These Montana Dude Ranches Redefine 'Roughing It'

The dude ranch vacation has moved beyond city slickers cornpone to white-glove luxury.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

3 Montana Warm Springs Making Hot Tubs Look Bad

Montana’s best natural warm springs link leisure to landscape.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

Montana’s Canty Boots Updates the Classic Cowboy Style

These boots were made for reworking.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

An Old Hollywood Set Is Becoming a Real Destination

Hollywood’s classic Western heroes built the mock village of Pioneertown in the California desert. Half a century later it’s been reborn.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

3 Western Movie Backdrops That Stun Off-Screen

Check out the sets of City Slickers, Planet of the Apes, and, uh, Back to the Future III.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Showcases the Spirit of the West

In Elko, Nevada, the creative and crafty side of the Old West thrives.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

How the Basques Found a Home in Nevada

Elko, Nevada's culture and culinary scene bear the clear mark of the European ethnic group.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams

Eastern Oregon’s Minam River Lodge Is Way Out There

Looking for a truly remote getaway? This place doesn't even have Wi-Fi.

02/26/2020 By Allison Williams