Fort Laramie National Historic Site in eastern Wyoming was originally founded in 1834 for its strategic location at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers. Purchased by the U.S. military in 1849, it saw its share of history as a major military post on the Oregon Trail, Pony Express, and Cheyenne-Deadwood stage route. West of the fort, stop at Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site and Register Cliff where pioneers left their mark along the North Platte River.
Museum, film, 1874 Cavalry Barracks, 1849 “Old Bedlam”
Come for the free 4th of July festivities and explore the restored buildings encircling the parade grounds, in between watching demonstrations of cannon firing and oxen plowing. The National Park Service (NPS) employees host a variety of old-fashioned activities for kids and adults, including a three-legged race for adults. Grab a partner and join in the fun or simply watch from the sidelines with a cold sarsaparilla, cream soda, or birch beer in your hand. You are sure to have a good, old-fashioned good time even if you head home before the fireworks.
Fort Laramie was never a condensed, palisaded fort, so walking to all 11 restored structures covers quite a bit of distance (like Fort Union in New Mexico). You can also hike along the banks of the Laramie River where the Oregon National Historic Trail once led.
“Old Bedlam,” the former quarters of bachelor officers, dates to 1849 making it the oldest documented building in Wyoming. The right side is now restored to appear as officers’ quarters and the left side to post headquarters in 1863 when Lt. Col. William O. Collins lived on the second floor with his wife.
The last portion of the drive is a graded dirt road, as is the parking lot.
The town of Fort Laramie offers camping at its small municipal park, or head west to Guernsey State Park with its historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) structures.
Scotts Bluff National Monument (Nebraska)
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site (Colorado)
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
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