Day 1 -
Caldwell was once known as the “Border Queen”. Historical markers tell the history of one of the most notorious cowtowns on the Chisholm Trail. Many of the early stone buildings are still in use today. Caldwell’s Cherokee Strip Museum/Border Queen Museum features displays depicting pioneer life, the railroad, Cowboys, cattle, and the Cherokee Strip Land Run. South of town, “Ghost Rider” silhouettes dramatically mark the Chisholm Trail as it enters Kansas.
Present-day Wichita grew from a frontier cattle town to the largest city in Kansas. Celebrate the city’s western heritage at the Old Cowtown Museum, an 1870’s living history museum. The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum features a pictorial display of the Chisholm Trail. The Jesse James Museum is home to the only complete collection of never before seen Jesse James photographs, artifacts and documents. Sheplers is the world’s largest western wear store featuring a vast boot department. An evening of Cowboy entertainment awaits at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper. Enjoy all-you-can-eat barbecue and the songs of the American Cowboy performed by the Prairie Rose Wranglers.
Day 2 -
The famous Chisholm Trail leads right into Newton. 1871 to 1873 Newton came to be known as “bloody and lawless - the wickedest city in the west”. In 1872, the western terminal for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway and the railhead for the Chisholm Trail were established in Newton. Western hospitality and the rugged pioneer, spirit live on today… groups can enjoy an authentic western style event, complete with a campfire cooked meal and Cowboy entertainment courtesy of Country Boys Carriage and Prairie Adventures. Swales from over a million head of cattle are visible in Trails Park at Kauffman Museum. The Warkentin House Museum and Harvey County Historical Museum feature the story of the introduction of wheat to the region, as well as, railroad and Cowboy history. Unique works of Kansas artists can be found at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery. Highway 15 leading north from Newton follows the Chisholm Trail.
Take the opportunity to see the prairie up close at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge north of Canton. The prairie blossoms in the spring to reveal a spectacular vista. A narrated tram tour through the 2,000 acres of praire where both bison and elk roam.
Abilene was the first of the great cattle towns on the Chisholm Trail, with dance halls, gaming rooms, and 32 saloons. Abilene’s history is featured at the Dickinson County Historical Museum. A six-mile excursion train offered by the Smoky Valley Railroad Association presents an Iron Horse view of the area. Mr. K’s Farm House Restaurant sits on the Chisholm Trail. It is famous for its warm hospitality and country-style menu.
Day 3 -
Head west to Ellsworth, a town that was known as the wickedest town in the west. In 1868, Ellsworth “had a man for breakfast every morning”. The Ellsworth Historical Plaza Walking Tour consisting of seventeen interpretive signs, provides an overview of daily life in Ellsworth when Texas drovers paraded their wild Texas Longhorns through the streets.
The spirit of the OLD West is alive at the Ellsworth county Hodgden House Museum. with eight properties and with in walking distance to the Historic 1873 Jail, the sight and touch of the west is an unforgettable experience. Historic downtown's C & R Old West Trading Post is a step into the past with antiques, western wear, cowboy hats and boots.
Your cowboy experience continues with a visit to Rancho Milagro Kansas for guided Back Water Tours of Lake Kanopolis and Pioneer Settlements located east of Ellsworth. In addition to guided tours and horseback riding, the ranch house features a dinner theater/dining room facility.
Day 4 -
From Ellsworth, follow the Santa Fe Trail to Dodge City, The longest running cattletown in Kansas. Cattle were shipped from Dodge City as early as 1874 and continued to be shipped until 1885. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson were just a few famous names that formed Dodge City’s reputation. The Dodge City Trolley visits the actual sites where history was made. Boot Hill Museum features collections gathered from actual Dodge City businesses and personalities. Order a sarsaparilla over the very same Long Branch bar that the Cowboys leaned on. Gunfights occur on Front Street year around. During the summer, demonstrations, stagecoach rides and the famous Long Branch Saloon Variety Show are all a part of the museum atmosphere. At the Moore Ranch guests experience ranch life, cattle drives, solitude and nature.