AAA Travel Tips / Wild West History in Denver

Wild West History in Denver

NA / Midimacman / Wikimedia Commons
By AAA Travel Editor Laurie Sterbens
January 02, 2018
Looking at the sleek skyscrapers of downtown Denver, it’s hard to believe this modern city got its start as a rough-and-tumble mining town. The attractions below offer a glimpse into the mountain town’s colorful past. Before you set out to explore the historic sites, check into a AAA Inspector Pick® hotel to soak up the flavors and atmosphere of the Old West.
Wild West History in Denver
NA / Jeffrey Beall / flickr
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American Museum of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection
The Anschutz Collection includes paintings of various schools and genres that illustrate more than a century of the American frontier, from Native American buffalo hunters to cowboys, gold-seekers and pioneers. The collection is housed in the Navarre Building, an 1880 structure with a colorful history of its own as a former girls’ school, bordello and jazz club.
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Black American West Museum
The Black American West Museum is located in the historic Five Points neighborhood in the former home of Dr. Justina Ford, the first African-American woman doctor in Denver. The museum is only open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but it’s worth a visit for its unique collection of artifacts, memorabilia and photos depicting the history of the African-American cowboys and cowgirls, pioneers and miners who settled the American West.
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Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
While it’s technically outside Denver, a short drive to Golden will take you to the gravesite of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who earned his nickname as a buffalo hunter and later traveled the world with his Wild West shows. The museum has exhibits illustrating Cody’s life along with Native American artifacts and other objects from the Old West. Located in Lookout Mountain Park, the site offers spectacular views of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.
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VISIT DENVER / Steve Crecelius
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Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum, a AAA GEM®, features an extensive collection of Western American art anchored by Charles Deas’ “Long Jakes, The Rocky Mountain Man,” Frederic Remington’s bronze “The Cheyenne” and Charles M. Russell’s “In the Enemy’s Country.” The museum’s Roath Collection includes more than 50 works ranging from 1877 to 1972 by masters of American Western art.
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Four Mile Historic Park
The centerpiece of this 12-acre park is the Four Mile House Museum, reputedly Denver’s oldest structure. Built in 1859, the house was the last stop for travelers headed for Denver on the Cherokee Trail. The surrounding land was a thriving farm for many years, and the park continues to offer a pastoral setting where you’ll find horses, goats and chickens amid the historic buildings.
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History Colorado Center
This AAA GEM offers exhibits and programs that tell the stories of Colorado’s history. See the city as it was in the 1800s in the Denver Diorama. The Living West exhibit illustrates how the state’s environment shaped its human history, while an interactive “time machine” on a 40- by 60-foot map allows visitors to travel back to different periods.
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Courtesy of Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown / NA
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Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown
Denver’s gold rush history inspired the décor of this AAA Three Diamond® hotel, where photos and murals of mining scenes adorn its rustic yet modern lobby and guest rooms. The hotel is within easy walking distance of Union Station, which offers bus and rail access to the entire metro area.
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Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center
This AAA Four Diamond hotel showcases opulent architectural elements from its original incarnation as Colorado National Bank. Its spacious lobby features a series of 16 murals by Western artist Allen Tupper True. Guest rooms are thoroughly modern, with bedside USB ports and flat-screen TVs. Sample New American West cuisine at Range, where the New American West cuisine highlights ingredients and cultural influences of the Rocky Mountain region.
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Courtesy of THE ART, a hotel / NA
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THE ART, a hotel
The Art, a AAA Four Diamond hotel, is next to the Denver Art Museum and displays an art collection of its own in the Welcome Gallery. Enjoy a Rocky Mountain sunset or the sparkling Denver skyline from the modern, colorfully decorated guest rooms. FIRE Terrace, a rooftop patio bar, is the perfect spot to wind down with a craft cocktail.
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