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Wandering WY: National Historic Trails Center

I have had the pleasure of visiting the National Historic Trails Center in Casper several times this summer with friends. It's one of the first stops I make when showing off my Wyoming hometown. Casper, Wyoming sits along the intersection of the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Pony Express Trail, and Mormon Trail. Many families plan their vacation in Wyoming around visiting important landmarks along these trails where around 500,000 emigrants traveled West for a new life from 1843 to 1869.

While planning your visit to Wyoming you probably first think of the towering Tetons and the wonders of Yellowstone, but there is so much more to explore! I love traveling for history, seeing and contemplating the footsteps of those who came before me is an important part of how I make sense of the world today. Consider all the reasons and struggles of those who moved West and those who were already here! How have all those little decisions shaped our nation? How have they shaped families whose roots have now been for generations in the western United States?

That's why the National Historic Trails Center is one of my favorite places to visit. It is interactive and perfect for families even with young children. It explores the responses to events from both the Native American perspective and the migrant perspective. Their staff is incredibly helpful for showing you how to find the more obscure landmarks along the trails.

During the summer, they also have programming every weekend to give windows into the past from all the different groups of people who settled the west: ranchers, farmers, military, treasure seekers, and more. I especially loved this last summer seeing their programming on women's role in gathering plants for both food and medicine which is a topic I've been fascinated with for years. I'm even taking a class at my local college this fall to learn more about gathering today!

The best part is that this museum while packed with great information and interactives will only take you 2-3 hours to take it all in. Then you can cross town to visit Fort Caspar or make a day of it and travel along the trail to Independence Rock.

Did you have ancestors who traveled along one of the four trails that intersect in Casper? Do you ever think about what the journey would have been like for them?

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