Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Take your RV back in time along these historic trail routes

At one time or another most of us long for “the good ol’ days.” The call of a simpler time often echoes in an RVer’s mind. Why not answer that call? Yes, your RV can serve as a time machine if you take it to the many places where history was made. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Oregon Trail

The 2,000-mile-long Oregon Trail stretched from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon. In the early 1800’s Lewis and Clark began a westward trek via waterways. Forty years later a similar push westward was repeated over land by thousands of pioneers.

A trip along the Oregon Trail will leave you in awe of the courageous people who, step-by-step, traveled the route in search of their manifest destiny.

Not to be missed:

  • National Trails Frontier Museum in Independence, Missouri
  • Fort Kearney State Historic Park in Kearney, Nebraska
  • Alcove Spring a few miles south of Marysville, Kansas
  • The preserved wagon ruts near Guernsey, Wyoming (some as deep as five feet!)
  • Devil’s Gate and Independence Rock, southwest of Casper, Wyoming
  • Three Island Crossing outside Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho.

Chisholm Cattle Trail

More than five million cattle followed the Chisholm Trail between 1867 to 1885, winding their way north from Texas to Kansas.

Although the roots of the Chisholm Trail began near San Antonio, Austin, and Waco, Texas, you may want to begin your trip in Cleburne, Texas, at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum.

Many towns along the Trail feature reenactments of the mid-1800s cattle drives.

Interesting stops along the historic trail north include:

  • Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma
  • Marlow Area Museum in Marlow, Oklahoma
  • Chisholm Trail Museum and Horizon Hill in Kingfisher, Oklahoma
  • Chisholm Trail Museum in Wellington, Kansas

Other historic trails

If pioneers and cowpokes don’t interest you, consider a road trip on one or more of these famous trails:

  • The U.S. Civil Rights Trail (from the South all the way up to Washington, D.C. More on that here.)
  • The American Revolution Trail (Boston, Massachusetts, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Natchez Trace Parkway (Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi)

These are just a few of the routes that will bring history to life. With a little help from your computer’s search engine, you can easily plan an interesting and unforgettable RV road trip.

Where will you time travel to next?


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. Readers, I stand humbly corrected. And so embarrassed about my obvious mistake re: Lewis and Clark. Next time I’ll engage my brain before typing!

  2. Lewis and Clark followed the Missouri River upstream to the headwaters in Montana, it does not travel thru Wyoming. The Oregon Trail that travels thru Guernsey, WY is spectacular which includes Register Cliff where folks would rest and restock supplies, chisel their name & date in the cliff so that family & friends traveling after them would know they made it that far. And the wagon ruts created by the metal rim on wagon wheels cutting into the sandstone is impressive. While I walked in the ruts I thought about my maternal 3x great grandparents who traveled by wagon train in 1849 on this trail and then the California Trail.

  3. Sorry, but Lewis & Clark did not travel on or establish the Oregon Trail. You might want to edit that. It started with fur trappers going to Ft Astor, OR around 1810 and was widened for wagons in 1836 by Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries to the Native Americans in Oregon. The first major organized wagon train left Independence MO in 1843 and had about 1000 families. After their successful trip others followed in rapid succession.

  4. You left off Scott’s Bluff National Monument, NE and Ft. Laramie National Historic Site, WY from the not-to-miss places along the Oregon-California-Mormon Trail. At the inception of the trail, Ft. Laramie was the last and most important “civilization” until Oregon.

    You also omitted the entire Santa Fe Trail, which preceded the Oregon Trail by 20 years. It was initially a trading route between the US and Mexico, but became an important route for fur trappers and Indian traders in the 1830s and 40s, the Army and Gold Rushers from 1846-1849; settlers, Pikes Peak gold rushers, and Army supply wagon trains in the 1850s and ’60s; Union troops during the Civil War; and the Santa Fe Railroad route to California in the 1870s and 80s. Outstanding stops along the trail include several historic sites in the Council Grove area and Ft. Larned NHS in KS; Bent’s Fort NHS and Raton Pass in CO; and Ft. Union NM, Glorieta Pass Battlefield/Pecos NHP, and the Santa Fe Plaza and Governors Palace in NM.

    • We just walked a few miles of the Trail of Tears a few weeks ago. It was very sobering walking in the footsteps of that sad time in history, although it was a beautiful walk. We were actually staying near the Natchez Trace when we learned that a section of the Trail of Tears was nearby. Both were fascinating.

  5. Lewis and Clark DID NOT “establish” the Oregon Trail.

    Lewis and Clark went up the Missouri River. The Oregon Trail is on land. Lewis and Clark traveled in 1804-1806. The Oregon Trail was first traveled in the early 1840s. |

    This isn’t rocket science. A little time on Wikipedia might do you some good.

  6. Need to add the BLM’s National Historic Trails Museum in Casper, WY. It presents the history of all of the trails that ran along the Platte River–Oregon, California, and Mormon. Wonderful animatronic-light show (not a movie) in the auditorium that should fascinate even the most cell phone-addicted kids.


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