Hop on the wagon train to Fort Pierre

For those who want to learn about the Old West, there are museums, and then there are real, live, hands-on experiences. If you’re interested in both, you could hardly do better than an event planned this summer in the Fort Pierre area.

A four-day trail ride/wagon train is being planned in conjunction with the grand opening of the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center in the city of Fort Pierre. (Fort Pierre is just across the Missouri River to the west from the state capital city of Pierre, in the central part of the state.) The trail ride will end at Fort Pierre and begin 50 miles northwest of the city, at Tibbs’ birthplace.

The Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center’s grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 14-16. It looks as though the trail ride will be Aug. 10-14, according to one Web site. More information will likely be available soon at the center’s Web site.

Last summer, a grueling, 17-day trail ride was completed along the old Fort Pierre-to-Deadwood trail. This summer’s trail ride should be a lot more manageable, but I’d still issue a word of caution to people who aren’t used to being around horses. If you fall into that category, you should try to either hitch a ride on a wagon (an Associated Press story says organizers are planning a wagon train ride for 300 people) or just make a visit to the trail. Multi-day trail rides are not for the faint of heart, and they can wear out even the hardiest horseback riders. I’m not sure what arrangements will be made for people who want to watch the trail ride or just visit it in camp, but I bet that will be a possibility.

At the end of the trail ride, there’ll be plenty of things to do in the Fort Pierre/Pierre area. There’s the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center, which is named for the South Dakota native who is regarded by some as the best professional rodeo cowboy of all time. There’s also the Missouri River and the nearby Oahe Dam, and in Pierre there’s the Capitol building and grounds and a state museum known as the Cultural Heritage Center.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. Seth’s day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota’s state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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