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.”
The Butterfield Overland Stagecoach Trail is a fun road trip to the Old West that includes the Gateway Arch, San Antonio River Walk and California Wine Country.
Discover Your Pioneer Spirit…
1) St. Louis – I-70 and I-44. Many Butterfield Overland Stage customers would come to 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. 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. Silver Dollar City features over 40 memorable, thrilling rides for kids of all ages and sits atop Marvel Cave, Missouri’s deepest cavern. The park showcases 100 resident craftsmen who bring to life America’s craft heritage. Silver Dollar City’s White Water park features 13 acres for cool, splashing fun.
6) Branson – US 65 and 76. 76 Country Boulevard is lined with theaters offering live performances with a mix of music, magic and endless excitement. Dolly Parton’s Stampede is a fun-filled family dinner theater with a cast of 32 horses, trick riders, music and country-style food. Shepherd of the Hills features inspiring live performances, dining and outdoor recreation. Track Family Fun Parks has three high-rise tracks, bumper boats, mini golf, laser tag and more. Bigfoot Fun Park offers breathtaking thrill rides, a multi-level maze and an 8D immersive gaming experience. Other great attractions include the Hollywood Wax Museum, Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, Promised Land Zoo and the Showboat Branson Belle paddlewheel riverboat.
For more information on Missouri communities, museums, and attractions located on or near the Butterfield Overland Trail, go to: visitmo.com.
7) Eureka Springs – On US 62. Tucked away in the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is a hidden gem filled with culture and charm. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing artsy getaway or an adrenaline-filled mountain biking adventure, there is something for everyone. The Victorian aesthetic of the downtown area–which is included on the National Register of Historic Places–pairs perfectly with the town’s contemporary offerings, like world-class entertainment at The Aud and eateries that range from craft breweries to fine dining. You’ll also find one-of-a-kind shops, boutiques, fine art galleries, craft emporiums, spas and museums. Eureka Springs provides a wide variety of outdoor activities for enthusiasts of all skill levels. From 1,610-acre Lake Leatherwood City Park to Blue Spring Heritage Center (the largest spring in Northwest Arkansas) visitors seeking water activities can swim, fish, kayak, canoe and stand-up-paddleboard. Ziplining, horseback riding, golf, and hiking also round out the options for open-air fun. For those seeking a more curious adventure, one of Eureka Springs’ daily historic Ghost Tours may be the perfect fit. There’s even an annual event at the Crescent Hotel–often called America’s Most Haunted Hotel–dedicated to paranormal investigations. Eureka Springs has a great collection of seasonal events, such as numerous Diversity Weekends, Mardi Gras Celebrations, a May Festival of the Arts and the Ozark Folk Festival, which celebrates its 75th year in 2022. For information on all Eureka Springs events, visit eurekasprings.org.
8) Springdale – On I-49 and US 412. A good place to start your visit is downtown Springdale where the streets are owned and loved by the artists, craftspeople, antique lovers, baristas and brewers who live and thrive here. Visitors can step back into the Ozarks’ early days at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History that includes six historic buildings with exhibits focusing on the people who shaped Northwest Arkansas. History buffs will also want to get an up-close look at two remarkably intact Civil War battlefields that are nearby. The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad offers a memorable train tour over the Boston Mountains and into the Arkansas River Basin in refurbished antique passenger and parlor coaches. Visitors can also enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Ozarks with helicopter tours from Fly ARH. The Ozark Highlands Nature Center is a great place to discover the secrets of the natural world. For Mountain bikers, Fitzgerald Mountain offers 11 miles of scenic trails ranging from kid-friendly beginner trails all the way to breath-taking double-black diamond trails. For sports lovers, Arvest Ballpark is the home of Northwest Arkansas Naturals baseball team, Parsons Stadium is the home for the Rodeo of the Ozarks, and the Jones Center is the Midwest’s premier family recreation and meeting place. Visitors will also want to sample the delicious dining and scenic vineyards in the area. For more information, go to: explorespringdale.com.
9) Little Rock – Located at the crossroads of I-30 and I-40. Scenic Riverfront Park includes many of the area’s museums and is the place for outdoor events near downtown Little Rock. The nearby River Market Entertainment District features a variety of restaurants, hot local bars and unique shops. The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site honors where nine Black school children entered the previously all-white school in 1957. The National Historic Site’s Visitor Center has interactive displays and is on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The Arkansas State Capitol showcases Arkansas granite, six bronze doors, and three Tiffany’s chandeliers. The Capitol grounds include the inspiring “Testaments” Civil Rights sculpture and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Historic Arkansas Museum celebrates the state’s diverse culture and heritage in six galleries with art and artifacts. The museum also features an interactive children’s gallery and a theater. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is a world-class cultural center with exhibits, programs and events offering a unique perspective of the 42nd President. The Museum of Discovery Donald W. Reynolds Science Center is Arkansas’ premier science center and features 90 hands-on exhibits. Visitors can’t miss the colorful Little Rock Murals, Little Rock Sculpture Tour, or the Big Dam Bridge, the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in North America. Go to: littlerock.com.
10) Tahlequah – US 62 and OK 82. After the Cherokee people were forced from their homes in 1836 and walked over 5,000 miles on what has been called “Trail of Tears,” Tahlequah became the capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1841. Today, the Cherokee Nation is alive and well and welcomes visitors the world over. Historic Downtown Tahlequah has the oldest Main Street in Oklahoma dating back to 1842 and is today a great place to explore Cherokee history and unique shopping and dining experiences, including the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop. The Cherokee National History Museum is located inside the renovated Cherokee National Capitol and features immersive exhibits and augmented reality experiences. The Cherokee Heritage Center offers exhibits, cultural workshops, and year-round events. The Cherokee National Prison Museum, built within the 1875 prison grounds, has exhibits on Cherokee crime and punishment, law and enforcement, and overviews of famous outlaws. The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is in the original 1844 courthouse building that today showcases the history of the Cherokee judicial system, written language, and the evolution of Cherokee journalism. Tahlequah is also the perfect launch point for adventures on the scenic Illinois River. Float trips, RV and primitive camping are available through many outfitter companies along the scenic Illinois River. Great hiking trails and the chance to view wildlife in natural settings can be enjoyed at the Sparrow Hawk Primitive Area, Tenkiller State Park, and the J.T. Nickels Preserve. Sequoyah State Park offers boating, fishing, lodging, horseback riding, and dining. For more information, go to: tourtahlequah.com.
11) 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. The Choctaw Casinoand Resort is a AAA Four-Diamond entertainment destination. The casino and resort include a family-friendly pool and an exclusive, adults-only pool. The Magnolia Festival in Durant is one of the largest events in south-central Oklahoma. Festivities begin the weekend after Memorial Day at the Choctaw Event Center. Durant is the gateway and just a few minutes from beautiful Lake Texoma where visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, exploring, nature and hunting. For more information, visit discoverdurant.com.
12) 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. Go to: visitsanantonio.com.
13) 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.
14) Abilene – On I-20, US 83, and US 277. Visitors to Frontier Texas! can experience the Texas frontier between 1780-1880 with exhibits that portray the chaos of a buffalo stampede, a deadly card game, Buffalo hunters, Comanche warriors, explorers, and pioneers. Frontier Texas! also features the Abilene and Forts Trail Visitor Center with free visitor information and a General Store with Texas-themed gifts. The Texas Forts Trail includes six historic frontier forts in the area, including Fort Phantom Hill, built in 1851 where today’s visitors can feel like they are stepping back in time as they stroll the ghostly remains of three original buildings, more than a dozen chimneys, and the remains of other fort buildings. The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum provides the dramatic perspective of World War II from the men who helped liberate the concentration camps. The Grace Museum is housed in the historic Grace Hotel building that today features the best of Texas art past, present, and future. The Grace Museum is one of 24 stops on Abilene’s Historical Downtown Walking Tour. Abilene is also the Storybook Capital of America® where visitors can enjoy the largest public collection storybook characters in the country including at the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor recreation at Abilene State Park and at many city parks that include cool splash pads for kids. Abilene has plenty of award-winning great restaurants and a Texas-sized selection of cuisine to choose from. Go to: abilenevisitors.com.
15) Fort Stockton – On I-10. The Fort Stockton Visitor Center is a great place to start your visit and get directions. The center features a miniature replica of the Comanche Springs, train caboose, pump jack, and metal silhouettes of cowboys in various poses. Visitors get a feel for the Wild West days at the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum. Housed in the original adobe from the early 20th Century, the museum features thirteen rooms filled with original artifacts that also tell the story of a bloody chapter in Pecos County’s history. Visitors experience the Old West at Historic Fort Stockton. The original Guard House and three Officer’s Quarters can be seen on self-guided driving tours. The fort’s original site also includes two reconstructed Enlisted Men’s Barracks, Kitchens and the original Parade Ground. The U.S. Army built the Old School and Telegraph Office to house a Western Union telegraph office on one end and a one-room schoolhouse at the other end. The Old County Jail was built in 1883 and today features the original holding cell and 20th Century cell blocks. For a fun and unique “selfie” of your visit, nothing beats Paisano Pete, the second largest roadrunner statue and the most photogenic bird in Texas! Downtown Fort Stockton offers a mix of retail stores, services, government offices, banking, and restaurants. The downtown area also hosts street festivals, summer farmer’s market, and several “Sip, Shop and Stroll” events each year. For cool, kid-friendly fun, there is the Matthew Quiroz Splash Park. For adults there are a number of Old West-themed saloons and tasing rooms. Go to: visitfortstockton.com.
16) Las Cruces – I-10. The Mesilla Village Plaza is a well-preserved historic square surrounded by adobe buildings, galleries, shops and restaurants.
17) Willcox – I-10. The Chiricahua National Monument features 17-miles of day-use trails to awe-inspiring rock pinnacles and diverse wildlife. The Butterfield Overland Trail passes through Fort Bowie National Historic Site. Visitors can learn about the conflict in the late 1800s between the U.S. Army and the Chiricahua Apaches at the visitor center.
18) Tucson – I-10. Explore a unique blend of Mexican, Spanish Colonial, Wild West, and even modern aerospace history in Arizona’s second-largest city. Visitors can follow the Anza Trail south along I-19 to discover Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac, built in the 1700s by Spanish missionaries.
19) Phoenix – I-10 and I-17. Arizona’s capital city is a showcase of modern art, ancient culture, and vibrant nightlife. The world-renowned Heard Museum showcases Native American culture and art and has live performances. Half a mile south, explore an extensive collection of classic and contemporary art at the Phoenix Art Museum, or go north to see over 8000 instruments from around the world at the Musical Instrument Museum. In nearby Scottsdale, Old West history is displayed at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.
20) Yuma – I-10. Yuma is a great destination for those seeking sunny, outdoor adventures. Yuma’s unique Western heritage is on display at the Colorado River State Historic Site that once served as the U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot from 1864 to 1884 for all southwestern military posts. The beautiful 10-acre park includes five buildings from the depot’s earliest days. The Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park is a fun stop for both western history buffs and ghost hunters.
21) Palm Springs – On I-10. An easy drive from Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, Greater Palms Springs is Southern California’s most storied resort oasis, with nine cities—Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella—each offering its own blend of experiences. Famed for its relaxed lifestyle, the destination is a unique combination of escape, adventure, inspiration and recreation with dramatic mountain views, endless sunny skies and natural wonders in all directions, including Joshua Tree National Park. Offering a celebrated art, culinary and festival scene, Greater Palms Springs features luxurious resorts and boutique hotels, world-class spas, championship golf, and year-round attractions and events, such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, The American Express golf tournament, BNP Paribas Open Tennis Championship, Modernism Week, Stagecoach County Music Festival, Desert X, BMW Performance Driving Experience and many more. Beginning in 2023 the Men’s Senior PGA Tour will bring the Galleri Classic tournament to Greater Palm Springs. Getting to Greater Palm Springs is easier than ever, with more than 34 nonstop and 500 connecting cities to Palm Springs International Airport. Open-air, the terminal creates a relaxing blue-sky reception by day and a dramatic starlit reception by night. For more information go to: visitgreaterpalmsprings.com.
22) Temecula – Off I-15 and US 79. Just a short distance from Los Angeles and San Diego, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is home to nearly 50 wineries. The Temecula Valley is ideal for growing grapes and creating award-winning premium wines. Visitors can choose from a variety of wine tours that can include safe travel by mini-coaches, air-conditioned shuttles, horse-drawn carriages, electric bicycles, or luxury vehicles. The Temecula Valley Museum presents exhibits and displays portraying historic periods that shaped the history of the Temecula Valley. Exhibits depict key stories, including the Pechanga Band of American Indians, the Mission San Rey period, and the coming of the stagecoach and railroad. The museum also features an interactive room for children and a playground in a picturesque park. Kids of all ages can discover science through play at Pennypickle’s Workshop – Temecula Children’s Museum. Historical Vail Headquarters has preserved what we know as the only urban segment of the Butterfield Stagecoach trail that once carried mail across the country and transported miners during the gold rush. This shopping-dining park experience includes displays and plaques that give a glimpse into its past. The rich history and culture of Temecula Valley is on display year-round. Live music is a given at most wineries in the summer, and Old Town Temecula has performances all year. Nearby Pechanga Resort Casino also offers great entertainment and gaming. Go to: visittemeculavalley.com.
23) San Bernardino County – Calico Ghost Town Regional Park – Located just east of the Barstow junction at I-15 and I-40 in Yermo, Calif. At Calico Ghost Town visitors can feel like they are in the days of the Old Wild West. This historical landmark silver mining town has been restored to its 1880s boomtown beginnings with a few original buildings, mining artifacts, shops & restaurants, hiking, off-roading and camping. Our annual events include California Days, Calico Days and Ghost Haunt and compliment the camping and RV experience, with cabins and full-hookups.
In San Bernardino County, visitors can also take the Rim of the World Scenic Byway to “the Alps of Southern California” and San Bernardino National Forest. The Byway encompasses parts of Highways 138, 18 and 38, connecting popular forest attractions including Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Gregory Regional Park, and Cajon Pass. The California Theatre of the Performing Arts is a restored 1920s vaudeville and movie palace that today presents plays, musicals, and concerts by the San Bernardino Symphony. The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum is housed in the 1918 Santa Fe Depot and includes a 1910 recreated railroad station with many historic artifacts. The Original McDonald’s Site and Museum displays one of the world’s largest collections of McDonald’s memorabilia, merchandise, and souvenirs. Joshua Tree National Park is just a one-and-a-half-hour drive east from San Bernardino. Nearby, Black Rock Canyon offers campsite reservations and scenic hiking trails. The San Bernardino County Museum, in Redlands, is a regional museum with exhibits and collections in cultural and natural history for all ages. Tour the Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley and discover exhibits about the cultural and natural heritage of the High Desert. Visit sbcounty.gov/museum for more information. Visit parks.sbcounty.gov for more information about all of San Bernardino County’s Regional Parks, its fishing activities and camping amenities.
24) Bakersfield – Off I-5 and on CA 99, 58 and 178. Belly up to the bar and sample the local brews on tap on the Bakersfield Brewery Trail, where you will find their quality sets them apart from the national brands. Pose at some of Bakersfield’s most unique spots when you explore the Bakersfield Selfie Trail, including the only shoe-shaped building in America with shoelaces. Explore the Bakersfield Museum Trail, a 15-mile route connecting the city’s four main museums: the Kern County Museum where you will can visit the restored childhood home of country music legend Merle Haggard; the California Living Museum (Bakersfield Zoo), featuring many endangered California animals and plants in natural settings; the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science where you can explore the world of fossils and dinosaurs, and the Bakersfield Museum of Art, where a diverse variety of paintings and sculpture by California and international artists await you. Visitors can enjoy the all-American Bakersfield Sound at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace featuring the country music star’s memorabilia, a restaurant and a live country music performance theater where top acts perform today. Other dining choices in the city include the largest collection of Basque restaurants in the nation, seven eateries that Guy Fieri featured on his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and many others regularly noted in the national food press. And work off that genuine grub with our many outdoor choices, such as the Kern River Parkway Trail with more than 30 miles of scenic bike trails and whitewater rafting tours on the Kern River. Go to: visitbakersfield.com.