As Waterman Ormsby wrote, traveling by stagecoach across the Great Southwest was a grand adventure:
“To many Americans who travel for pleasure this route will be a favorite.
…they can travel by comfortable stages, stopping at such interesting points as they may choose for rest, and enjoying many opportunities for viewing the beautiful, the wonderful, and the sublime products of nature, which are well disposed along the entire distance.”
His words are even more true today. We can travel across this amazing land in the comfort and convenience of climate-controlled vehicles that are digitally connected to GPS and information networks.
Discover Your Pioneer Spirit…
1) St. Louis – I-70 and I-44. Many Butterfield Overland Stage customers would come St. Louis by riverboat to take a stage to Tipton and begin their Western adventures. Today’s visitors can learn all about the Gateway to the West at the Gateway Arch National Park.
2) Jefferson City – US 54, US 63 and US 50. An imposing statue of Thomas Jefferson is outside the Missouri State Capitol. Nearby at Trailhead Plaza are the statues of Lewis and Clark. Inside the capital is the Missouri State Museum and a Thomas Hart Benton mural.
3) Tipton – US 50. The northern launch point for the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach. Today’s visitors can step back in time at the Maclay House which served as Union Army headquarters for General John C. Fremont during the Civil War.
4) Springfield – US 65 and I-44. The History Museum on the Square features six main galleries in the historic downtown area.
5) Silver Dollar City – US 76/265. Silver Dollar City is the world-famous 1880s-style Ozark Mountain Family Theme Park. Visitors can see an authentic Concord Stagecoach that once traversed the Butterfield Trail. For train buffs, nothing beats a ride on the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train…complete with fun-loving outlaws. Silver Dollar City features over 40 memorable, thrilling rides for kids of all ages including record-holding roller coasters that will take your breath away. The park sits atop Marvel Cave, one of Missouri’s deepest caverns and is filled with spellbinding adventure. Silver Dollar City is also home to 100 resident craftsmen who bring to life America’s heritage crafts. Visitors can shop for unique mementos at 60 specialty boutiques and also experience 8 award-winning festivals throughout the season. Dining includes 18 family-style restaurants. Silver Dollar City’s White Water park features 13 acres for cool, splash fun. Visitors can stay close to all the action at the Silver Dollar City Campground that includes campsites, RV sites, trailer rentals and hand-crafted log cabins.
6) Branson – US 65 and 76. The “Live Music Show Capital of the World” as named by 60 Minutes TV show. 76 Country Boulevard is lined with theaters offering live performances with a fun mix of county, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, magic, and even jaw-dropping spectaculars. Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a fun-filled family dinner theater with a cast of 32 horses, trick riders, music and country-style food. Visitors to the Titanic Museum Attraction feel as if they are passengers on the ill-fated voyage with interactive displays and artifacts that even include a real iceberg. Shepherd of the Hills features inspiring live performances, dining, ziplines, a ropes course and a bird’s eye view of the area from Inspiration Tower. Track Family Fun Parks has three high-rise tracks, bumper boats, mini golf, laser tag, a laser maze and the iconic Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. Bigfoot Fun Park has breathtaking thrill rides and the Ozarks Expedition Tours. Other great attractions include the Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum, Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, Branson’s Promised Land Zoo and the Showboat Branson Belle paddlewheel riverboat.
7) Rogers – I-49. On the Butterfield Overland Trail route. Rogers offers today’s trail travelers memorable museums and trendy shopping surrounded by breath-taking Ozark scenery and historic sites. Favorite local museums in the area include the Daisy Airgun Museum, the Rogers Historical Museum and the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. The inspiring Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art combines art and architecture with the natural beauty of nature trails. The nearby Pea Ridge National Military Park is the nation’s largest intact Civil War Battlefield. War Eagle Cavern on the shores of Beaver Lake offers wondrous sights including an underground waterfall. Families will enjoy the splash fun at the Rogers Aquatics Center. Shoppers can choose from the brick-lined streets of Historic Downtown Rogers with its gourmet restaurants and charming boutiques, or Pinnacle Hills Promenade, the area’s top shopping center destination.
8) Siloam Springs – US 412 and US 59. Visit historic downtown Siloam Springs, a quaint area lined with shops, restaurants, parks, and bordered by beautiful Sager Creek. The Siloam Springs Farmers Market is open April-October in Memorial Park and features fresh fruits and vegetables, health and beauty products, home goods, local meats, nuts, and fresh baked goods. You can catch live music, Shakespeare in the Park, live cooking demonstrations, and more at the Chautauqua Amphitheater in Memorial Park. The nearby Siloam Springs Museum presents rotating exhibits celebrating the area’s Native American, pioneer, and Civil War history. Venture a couple miles north to City Lake Park to practice your mountain biking skills on the skills course and pump track before hitting the trails or enjoy the quiet nature observatory of the bird blind overlooking the lake. Need more mountain biking? Seek out Sager Creek Mountain Bike Trail on the John Brown University campus, with an additional 5 miles of trail. Don’t miss the Siloam Springs Kayak Park – be sure to bring your kayak, canoe, or tube and a life jacket for hours of free fun along the Illinois River. And soon Siloam Springs will be home to a best-in-class whitewater park featuring a 1,200-foot long, 100-foot-wide side channel with eight drop features currently under construction.
9) Fayetteville – I-49. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains and surrounded by state parks, national forests and pristine waters for fishing and floating, Fayetteville is a nature-lover’s dream. It’s rich in arts, history and entertainment, and offers guests a multitude of experiences. Fayetteville’s downtown has always been known as the region’s entertainment capital, thanks to live-music venues, restaurants, bars and theaters throughout Dickson Street and the Historic Downtown Square. While you’re visiting the square stop by the World Peace Fountain, a 10 ft. diameter bronze sphere fountain that has “May Peace Prevail on Earth” sculpted in over 100 different languages. With a new 50,000 sq. ft. home, TheatreSquared features locally produced and nationally acclaimed national productions. Just down the block, the newly renovated Walton Arts Center features Broadway shows and visual arts exhibitions. Nearby Devil’s Den State Park has been an Arkansas staple for those wanting to experience the outdoors. Devil’s Den has plenty of hiking trails and scenic overlooks, not to mention the scenic drive makes for a pretty quick trip to town. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks features 12 backyard gardens, the Totemeier Horticulture Center and the only Butterfly House in Arkansas. For family fun, visit the Arkansas Air & Military Museum, where you can see historic aircraft up close and personal.
10) Fort Smith – I-540, I-40, and I-49. The Fort Smith National Historic Site features the parade grounds and restored buildings of this famed fort during the War with Mexico and the Civil War and along the historic Trail of Tears.
11) Oklahoma City – I-40, I-35 and I-44. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum brings to life the histories and cultures of the American West with an outstanding collection of fine art, artifacts and programs.
12) Durant – US 69 & 75. Conveniently located 90 miles north of Dallas on Highway 75 and 150 miles southeast and south from both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Durant, the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma, offers small-town charm with a main street that offers a variety of restaurants, pubs & breweries, murals, Magnolia Mile Art Alley, and a unique shopping experience. While shopping on Main Street, take a walk back in history at one of our best-kept secrets, The Three Valley Museum. Once your downtown tour is complete, head out to Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum, which was first opened to protect the Chickasaw and Choctaw Tribes, then later served as a supply depot for confederate troops. Durant is alive with Native American heritage and is proud to be the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation and the Choctaw Casino and Resort, a world-class resort with first-class entertainment. Their new and improved water resort and an additional 1,000 room hotel is scheduled to open in 2021. The Magnolia Festival in Durant is one of the largest events in south-central Oklahoma and will celebrate its 24th year in 2021. Festivities begin the weekend after Memorial Day at the Choctaw Event Center. Durant is also just a few minutes from beautiful Lake Texoma where visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, exploring, nature and hunting.
13) Denton – I-35 and US 380. Denton is where the today’s “hip” culture mixes with historic Texas. A great place to start is at Downtown Square where art, music and history come alive at every corner. The Historic Courthouse is the centerpiece and Courthouse-on-the-Squarelawn is where people have a picnic or treats from the ice cream shop and listen to performers. Courthouse-on-the-Square-Museum features exhibits, lectures and community events.
Around the Downtown Square visitors can discover antique treasures, eclectic specialty boutique, galleries and choose from dining options from fun and casual to fine and elegant. The beautiful Little Chapel in the Woods built in 1939 is one of Texas’ 20 most outstanding architectural achievements. The Bayless-Selby House Museum is a Victorian treasure offering a fascinating glimpse of Denton County before to 1908. The Campus Theatre is a classic movie house that today offers musical and theatrical performances. The Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center is a gateway to more than 2,900-acres of hardwood forest, upland prairie and diverse aquatic habitats that include more than 10 miles of trails for up close nature viewing, hiking, jogging and biking. The Texas Motor Speedway is nearby on I-35 and hosts year-round racing experiences and entertainment.
14) Fort Worth – At the crossroads of I-35W and I-20. Just off the Butterfield Overland Trail route. The American West comes alive with the twice-daily longhorn cattle drive down the streets of Fort Worth’s National Historic Stockyards District.
15) San Antonio – At the crossroads of I-35 and I-10. The Alamo Mission founded in 1718 was the site of the 1836 Texas Revolution. Currently undergoing a multi-year, multi-phase restoration, today, the 4.2-acre complex features interactive tours and exhibits, reenactments and the scenic Alamo Gardens. A short walk leads to the world-famous San Antonio River Walk, a 15-mile urban waterway surrounded by great restaurants, historic districts and great shopping. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which along with the Alamo is the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas, includes Spanish Mission compounds built in the 18th Century. Market Square is a three-block outdoor plaza offering visitors the sights, sounds and flavor of Old Mexico. The San Antonio Museum of Art displays ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, while the McNay Art Museum specializes in 19th and 20th Century art. The Briscoe Museum of Western Art houses art and artifacts reflecting the history of the American West. The Witte Museum is dedicated to telling the stories of Texas from prehistory to the present. SeaWorld San Antonio provides unforgettable marine life encounters, a water park and thrill rides. Six Flags Fiesta Texas has coasters, a water park and nightly entertainment that includes fireworks.
16) Monahans – I-20. Monahans celebrates its western heritage and has a lot of fun during the annual Butterfield Overland Stagecoach and Wagon Festival in July. Other fun events include the Sandhills Ranch Rodeo, the Wickett Bluegrass Festival, the Christmas and Chili Market, the Freedom Fair, livestock shows and rodeos, and four Farmer’s Markets in the summer months.
The Million Barrel Museum features a giant concrete “tank” covering eight acres that once held one-million gallons of oil. Today, one area of the tank is a unique amphitheater for concerts and special events. The museum grounds also include the town’s first jail, a pioneer-era schoolhouse, an old-time train car, a collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia, and historic oil field equipment and farm tools. The Rattlesnake Bomber Base Museum honors the legacy of the Pyote Army Airfield where B-17 “Flying Fortress” and B-29 crews trained during World War II. Monahans Sandhills State Park is five miles east and features 4,000 acres of sand dunes resembling the Sahara Desert where visitors can “surf” the sands, camp, hike and picnic. The park’s Dunagan Visitors Center includes hands-on interactive exhibits. The park also features a miniature Harvard Oak forest occupying 40,000 acres, making it one of the largest oak forests in the country.
17) El Paso – I-10, US 62/180, Mexico Highway 45. El Paso has always served as the crossroads for many cultures. El Paso was established as an important stop on the old Spanish Trail and was an important stop on the Butterfield Trail. Today’s El Paso Museum of History is a great place to discover this rich history with five galleries representing 400 years of history. The El Paso Mission Trail includes two timeless adobe churches and one presidio established in the 17h and 18th centuries as a testimony to the faith of Spanish and Native ancestors. The Billy the Kid Jail is the only time the famous outlaw broke into jail. The Magoffin Home State Historic Site explores the legacy of a famous local family involved in U.S. expansion, settlement and trade. The El Paso Museum of Art features a world-class art experience featuring American, European, and Mexican art celebrating the region’s diverse cultures. For kids, the El Paso Zoo features exotic animals in natural settings and family-friendly attractions. El Paso Spray Parks is a fun place for families to keep cool with ten locations around town. Dining in El Paso is always a treat with a great variety of International, Mexican, and American cuisine. Visitors can also enjoy excellent micro-wineries along the Highway 28 wine trail. For the adventuresome, there are breathtaking scenic drives and hiking trails to one of the highest peaks in Texas in the nearby Franklin Mountains.