I first traveled the OregonTrail in 1989. This was the year that I truly discovered the Great Plains of America. I left the interstates, followed dirt roads, small county roads, and spent almost 3 months that first summer investigating every nook and cranny that I could possibly find on the old OregonTrail. For the next nine years my son and I would walk every foot of the Oregon Trail from St. Joe Missouri to Independence rock Wyoming. When you stand in the footsteps and the wagon ruts of people who risked everything they owned,including their lives for a better future in the new west, you walk away humbled by their effort,commitment, and perseverance. When I walked the trail, I was outfitted with excellent hiking shoes and clothing, plenty of water, and an air-conditioned chase vehicle. It still totally exhausted me. It's hard to believe that people walked day in and day out for almost 6 months to reach Oregon.
The OregonTrail is as alive today as it was in the 1840s. There are wagon ruts still visible. Graves of the old pioneers mark the edges of the trail. It is estimated that one in 17 who started this journey never lived to see the end of. This is an adventure of a lifetime. For me this adventure has lasted a lifetime. Every time I travel the old OregonTrail I find things that I missed on previous journeys.
I will include the following link to start you on your journey West. The link will include the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, as these all represent the same trail. They were just named differently by people traveling them. The Mormon Trail is primarily on the north side of the Platte River whereas the Oregon Trail is primarily on the south side. Other than that there is no difference between them.
Links to the OregonTrail
There are many points of interest that you will have to visit. Most of them will be pointed out in links on this page. Be sure to follow those links and plan your trip accordingly. You will find many great campsites and campgrounds both modern and primitive all along the old Oregon Trail. Remember, even at 70 miles an hour on the interstates,the Great Plains are extremely vast and if done right would take days to cross.
At every possible opportunity you need to stop and view the points of interest along the old Oregon Trail. If you see nothing else you have got to go to Ash Hollow, Chimney Rock, Scottsbluff, and for sure Register Cliff and Guernsey Wyoming. The last obvious place that you want to stop after Guernsey is Independence rock. A climb to the top of Independence rock is not extremely difficult. From there you get a commanding view of the Sweet Water River Valley and you can read the names carved by early travelers along the Oregon Trail.
Give yourself plenty of time and remember you will probably not make it to Oregon your first time out if you do this right, however you may have just started yourself a lifetime adventure along the Oregon Trail.
The campgrounds along this old trail are wonderful. There are many private and public campsites to be found. The further west you get the more primitive some of them become. The ones that I stay at always have water and typically they have shower houses at minimum. There are those primitive campgrounds that are still beautiful and some are must stay at sites. As with all of my pages please start a blog on this site of your journey along the trail and have others join in.
Good luck, you are on a venture of a lifetime, enjoy the ride. The Oregon Trail is not a destination it is more like a lifelong adventure.
The Oregon Trail can be started at Westport Missouri or St. Joe Missouri pick your jumping off point, I may see you on the trail.