The Best of the West on the Oregon Trail

In addition to Oregon Trail history, this route affords access to some of today’s best of the West. From chowing down on some Kansas City barbecue to windsurfing in Hood River, Oregon, here’s your guide to the best of the Oregon Trail.

Food and Drink

Beyond the burgers and steaks, sample delicious regional food and drink.

photo of bbq ribs, french fries, and cole slaw
BBQ in Kansas, Missiouri. Photo © Kevin Lipiec/

Barbecue, Missouri

Both St. Louis and Kansas City have their own meaty traditions.

Runza, Nebraska

This breaded pocket of meat was brought to the plains by Eastern European immigrants and is now ubiquitous across the state.

Basque Cuisine, Idaho

With a thriving Basque population, Boise is one of the best places to try this cuisine outside of Europe.

Craft Beer

Enjoy local brews along the trail, especially in Portland, known as Beervana.



Explore the dramatic landscapes of the West.

view of the Wallowa lake in Oregon with mountains and clear water
Wallowa, Oregon. Photo ©

Platte River, Nebraska and Wyoming

Go kayaking, try the Nebraskan activity of “tanking, or fish for trout along the length of this river.

City of Rocks, Idaho

Unique geological formations create a hiking and rock-climbing playground.

Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, Idaho

Soak in hot springs, hike, and kayak along this lovely stretch.

Bruneau Dunes, Idaho

These sandy dunes offer opportunities for hiking, sandboarding, and stargazing.

Wallowa Mountains, Oregon

Explore this gorgeous region from the gateway town of Joseph.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Hike, bike, windsurf, or kiteboard in this National Scenic Area.


Old West

Get a taste of the Wild West.

photo of a gold mine in South Pass City Wyoming with a red roof and clear skies.
Goal mine in South Pass City, Wyoming. Photo ©

Ogallala, Nebraska

Known as the Cowboy Capital of Nebraska, Ogallala has a kitschy historical Front Street.

South Pass City, Wyoming

Once a booming mining town, this ghost town is a well-preserved place to explore mines and Old West boardwalks.

Pendleton, Oregon

Slinging whiskey and woolen blankets, and thick with rodeo culture, Pendleton is a cowboy and cowgirl town through and through.


See the show during NEBRASKAland Days, Cheyenne Frontier Days, or the Pendleton Round-Up.


Small-Town Charm

Explore quaint streets and local flavors.

Hood River, Oregon. Photo © Vitpho/

Lander, Wyoming

Lander is an outdoorsy town in the shadows of the Wind River Mountains.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Find a walkable downtown set along the Snake River.

Joseph, Oregon

This scenic town is nestled at the base of the Wallowa Mountains.

Walla Walla, Washington

Enjoy the wine and produce of the Walla Walla Valley in this sweet spot.

Hood River, Oregon

Set along the Columbia River Gorge is this hot spot for windsurfing, kiteboarding, beer, and good food.


Lively Cities

Enjoy the bustle of the cities.

Photo of the archway in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri. Photo © Maunger/

St. Louis, Missouri

Gaze west from the top of Gateway Arch, then enjoy barbecue and jazz in this fun city.

Kansas City, Missouri

Enjoy history, art, and shopping alongside your barbecue and jazz.

Lincoln, Nebraska

Cheer on a college football game, then enjoy a night out in the historic district

Boise, Idaho

Enjoy the small-town feel of this vibrant city offering great drinks, restaurants, shops, and outdoor fun.

Portland, Oregon

Taste your way through Beervana and enjoy a bike ride or hike in playful Portland.


Quirk Quotient

Step into something a little weird at these inspired stops.

Carhenge, Nebraska. Photo © Ermanno Iselle/

City Museum, Missouri

This fantastic playground for kids and adults is a veritable labyrinth of slides and secret rooms.

Carhenge, Nebraska

See the one-to-one scale ratio of Stonehenge—as built out of automobiles.

Douglas, Wyoming

Get a jackalope hunting certificate in the city from which the mythical creature originates.

Museum of Clean, Idaho

Do some pioneer laundry, among other things, at this fun and interactive museum that explores the history of cleaning.

Emu-Z-Um, Idaho

You’ll never see a bigger collection of, well, anything, than at this museum comprised of more than 15 buildings holding all manner of odd antiques.


Start planning your adventure.