Wandering Wyoming’s Fort Laramie National Historic Site

July 14, 2017Travel Ideas
– David Sattler, Share the Experience

Whether you’re on vacation in Wyoming or just traveling through, the state is home to an incredible range of national parks to visit. Nestled in the sweeping plains and hills of southeastern Wyoming, Fort Laramie National Historic Site provides a unique glimpse of the past.

A crucial outpost when it was first built in the 1830s, Fort Laramie connected western fur traders with eastern markets and provided a resting place along the Oregon Trail. Although Fort Laramie National Historic Site is easily accessible to visitors looking to reconnect with America's frontier times, the fort appears nearly as remote today as it did in the 19th century. 

A Link to the Past

White clouds in a blue sky over the orange concrete remnants of Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Biasini Wagner, Share the Experience

Up until it was abandoned in 1890, Fort Laramie was one of the most well-known military outposts on the Northern Plains. Though the exact date of its construction is unknown, its location at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte rivers ensured Fort Laramie's significance for many years. 

From humble beginnings as a ramshackle outpost just as fur trade began to decline, the United States Army purchased Fort Laramie from the American Fur Company in 1849. It served as an essential outpost for over a decade until its troops were greatly diminished during the Civil War. 

After the war, Fort Laramie resumed its role as a key link to the west, and was frequented by traders, trappers, miners, and settlers on their way across the plains. However, the fort’s increasingly contentious relationship with Native Americans on the plains plagued the site. Eventually the Indian Wars ended, as did the fort’s importance. By 1890, the fort was abandoned and sold at public auction.

Things To Do

Sunset behind the close-up view of the remains of Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Paul Mrozek, Share the Experience

Simply strolling through the grounds of Fort Laramie National Historic Site is a transportive experience, but there's much more to see. The park includes 12 restored buildings that date from 1849 to the 1880s, along with several unrestored ruins that offer a unique glimpse into the past. 

You can also watch an 18-minute historical film at the visitor center, located in the restored 1884 Commissary Storehouse. Walk through the museum, follow a scenic hiking trail down to the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers, and stop for lunch at the park's spacious picnic area.

Be sure to check the park's calendar for upcoming events. Interpretive programs take place daily throughout the summer months, including guided walks and living history events with actors in period costume. You'll find lots of things for kids as well, including scavenger hunts and a booklet of educational activities.

Lodging is available at several state parks and campgrounds nearby, and Fort Laramie National Historic Site is within a day's drive of several other national parks, including Mount Rushmore National Monument and Wind Cave National Park.

Just off U.S. Highway 26, about two hours north of Cheyenne, Fort Laramie National Historic Site offers a chance to experience life on the rugged American frontier. If you’re wondering where to go in Wyoming, warm summer weather makes now a perfect time to explore this unique park

Comments

Of seminal importance, Ft Laramie was also the site of the signing of the Ft Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 between the US government and various Indian nations (including the Lakota, Shoshone, Arapahoe, Cheyenne & Crow) regarding the ceding if lands to settlers and the protection of other lands (most importantly the Black Hills) for the exclusive use by the Indians. These documents are the basis of the ongoing disputes between the Indians and the US govt over the latter's failure to live up to its treaty obligations.
David
Phillips

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