Virtual Trail

Online Adventures on the Oregon and California National Historic Trails!


Have you have ever thought about throwing all of your possessions into the back of your car and heading out for parts unknown?

Each spring for 30 years emigrants gathered at points along the great Missouri water line dividing the Midwest, forming into wagon trains to head out onto the prairie. They followed river valleys through what is now Kansas and Nebraska, ventured onto the dry hills of Wyoming, then split off in Idaho toward Utah and California or Oregon and Washington. It was a six-month journey, with hard traveling in deserts and over treacherous mountains and roiling rivers, before they reached their destinations.

Today many of us are captivated by that amazing mass emigration, and seek ways to understand what our forebears experienced. Two dozen students and three teachers took on the challenge of raising their awareness, when they dressed as the pioneers did, and traveled by wagon train on the Oregon Trail from Wyoming to Oregon. The documentary, “In Pursuit of a Dream,” shares their remarkable experiences.


NPS Auto Tour Route Guides

National Park Service Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guides – Explore the National Historic Trails!

Discover the trails in Western Missouri through Northeastern Kansas. Actual wagon wheel ruts, emigrant camps, Pony Express stations, and other places of interest can be visited at the sites listed in this guide.

You can also request a printed Missouri/Kansas ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

The first migration of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley occurred in two stages: in 1846, from western Illinois to the Missouri River near today’s Council Bluffs, Iowa; and in 1847, from the Missouri River to the Great Salt Lake. This guide covers the 1846 segment of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail from Illinois through Iowa.

You can also request a printed Iowa ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

Travel across northeastern Colorado and Nebraska following the route of the the overland pioneers! Chimney Rock is one of the most notable landmarks recorded in emigrant diaries and journals.

You can also request a printed Colorado/Nebraska ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

Wyoming – Gateway to the West! Early explorers found the South Pass crossing the Continental Divide allowing for wagon travel to the West.

This guide has been revised and is not available online to download. Please request a printed Wyoming ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

Follow the California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails across Utah. This ATR guide provides a historical overview of the three trails, shares emigrant thoughts and experiences, and discusses emigrant impacts on the native peoples of what is now Utah.

You can also request a printed Utah ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

Follow the California and Pony Express National Historic Trails across Nevada! Discover why the Humboldt River was, as Western historian Dale Morgan wrote, “the most necessary river of America, and the most hated.”

You can also request a printed Nevada ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

Photo by FamartinOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Travel the emigrant trails overland along the Snake River Plain through Idaho and discover the Great Shoshone Falls!

You can also request a printed Idaho ATR guide by sending an email with your name and address to:  ntir_information@nps.gov

 


Trail Facts

How many many emigrants followed the trails to California, the Pacific Northwest, and Utah? Find out these questions and more at Trail Facts!


In Pursuit of a Dream

This multiple award-winning film shows modern teenagers learning firsthand what it was like to be an emigrant traveling to the West on a wagon train. See the official website and vicariously travel with them through the video and stories about their amazing venture.


Homesteaders’ at Three Island Crossing

When emigrants to Oregon reached the Three Island Crossing along the Snake River in Idaho, they faced one of the more treacherous sections of the Oregon Trail. This 2008 re-enactment shows the difficulty of crossing the river with mules, horses, and covered wagons.