Reenactments: Horses and History

Horse-Drawn Wagons in Western Montana

Experience the adventure and romance of the American West with a horse-drawn wagon ride. This leisurely outdoor activity lets you sit back, relax and take in the sights and sounds of the Western Montana landscape. It’s a perfect whole-family adventure.

Looking for similar winter fun? Glacier Country also offers sleigh rides.


The Montana Trail was a wagon road that served gold rush towns such as BannackVirginia City and later Helena, Montana during the Montana gold rush era of the 1860s and 1870s. Miners and settlers all traveled the trail to try to find better lives in Montana. The trail was also utilized for freighting and shipping supplies and food goods to Montana from Utah. Bandits and Native Americans, as well as the weather, were major risks to traveling on the Montana Trail.

Malta Wagon Train

Missouri River Country

Giddy up for good ol’ fashioned Western Fun at the Annual Wagon Train Rides in Missouri River Country. Horses pull covered wagons along the prairie — a unique a fun event for all. Locations vary year to year, so please check out our events calendar or call one of the organizers below:

Kristine Maklen: 406.790.2500

Candace Cromwell: 406.783.7394

Kim Torgerson: 4061783.7227

Milk River Train

Today’s Milk River Wagon Train is a reenactment of that period of settlement in the 19th century. All reenactments have their own formal or informal guidelines about the players’ actions, costumes, and equipment, with groups like Civil War reenactors maximizing the effort to represent the past. The Milk River crew meets that effort halfway: they prefer antique wagons, appropriate draft horses or mules to pull them, and authentic trail equipment. Period dress, however, is not required although there are plenty of cowboy hats in use. The most treasured part of the wagon train experience is not something that can be seen or read about in a book. It is the knowledge of how to work as part of a wagon train team: driving wagons, repairing wagons, riding horses along side the wagons to protect the travelers, as well as training, working with, and taking care of the teams of horses or mules that pull the wagons. These things are taught first-hand from generation to generation. Even in the 19th century, the knowledge of how to manage a wagon train, requiring all the skills mentioned and more, was not common. That was why trail bosses like James Liberty Fisk were needed.

In 1979 the trail boss for the Milk River Wagon Train was Bud Hasler, who passed away in 2009. He was also one of the people who came up with the plan for the first wagon train. In this recording, made just after the wagon train met its destination in Malta, Bud Hasler and “Young” Billy Young talk with Kay Young and Michael Crummett in Stockman’s Bar about how the wagon train got started.

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Crow Trail Ride

Crow Country

Montana Crow Poet’s Ancestral Journey Along the Missouri River


Montana Poet Laureate Henry Real Bird, a Crow Indian, re-connected with some long-lost kin on a long horseback ride along the Missouri River trail this summer.

“I wanted to go and ride with my brothers over there…the Hidatsa,” Real Bird told the Pioneer, “and to again be able to stand in the earth lodge. The Hidatsa and the Crow used to be one.”

Before the Crow and Hidatsa peoples parted ways, they had already migrated west from their ancestral home, thought to be in the region of the headwaters of the Mississippi River, to the Devil’s Lake area of North Dakota. After “splitting up” with the Hidatsa by the year 1500, choosing the Yellowstone River drainage in Montana and Wyoming as their base of operations, the Crow further divided into the River Crow and Mountain Crow.

The Hidatsa remained in the Devil’s Lake area until they were pushed southwestward by the Lakota Sioux. They formed an alliance with the Mandan people they encountered at the mouth of the Heart River on the Missouri, and the Hidatsa were living in three villages at the mouth of the Heart when Lewis and Clark encountered them in 1804.
As whites became more engrained in life on the northwestern plains, trade between the natives and the new-comers became a cornerstone of their relationship. Built in the late 1820s, Fort Union trading post, on the upper Missouri River and at the present-day Montana-North Dakota border, was the most important trading post on the upper Missouri until 1867. At Fort Union, tribes including the Assiniboine, Blackfeet, Crow, Cree and Hidatsa traded pelts and buffalo robes for items like beads, blankets, cookware, cloth, knives, guns, and alcohol. Declared a national historic landmark in 1961, the reconstructed Fort Union commemorates the short period of time on the northern plains when two distinct groups of people found common ground through trade. Real Bird began his ride up the Missouri near Fort Union July 13, riding out with members of the Hidatsa Horsemanship Program.

“My great-grandfather was at Fort Union and spent time on the Missouri River,” said Real Bird. “My grandfather spent some time with the Hidatsa, too. It meant a lot to me to ride a horse where my great-grandfather rode…where my grandfather rode a horse, too…to be able to ride a horse along the Missouri River like the French fur traders and later, Lewis and Clark. That [route] was the trail of life kind-of-thing back then, when everything came upriver from St. Louis. Now everyone travels on the Interstate, and no one remembers the old wagon trails…a lot of people don’t even care about such things.”

Real Bird said his journey “was a beautiful ride because people were good to me.” The first night on the trail, after riding nearly 30 miles, Real Bird said a rancher put them up in style, complete with beds and hot showers, and gave the Hidatsa Horsemanship Program a cutting horse to boot.
“That country along the Missouri is beautiful,” Real Bird said. “I never knew…I stayed on the highway like everyone else when I was rodeoing in that country.” He said that people all along the way continued to welcome them.

Little Bighorn

Chief Joseph Ride

Nez Perce ride

Sometimes you have to be patient.

Thirteen years ago I missed seeing the trail riders complete the last leg of the annual Chief Joseph Ride and enter the Bear Paw Battlefield south of Chinook, Montana. I told myself I wouldn’t miss is again.

The downside – I had to wait thirteen years to see it!

The Nez Perce National Historic Trail is 1,300 miles long stretching from Lapwai, Idaho through southern Montana and then ending 40 miles from the US/Canada border near Chinook. The Appaloosa Horse Club organizes an annual ride covering approximately 100 miles of the trail. At that rate it takes thirteen years to cover the entire 1,300 miles and end up at the site where Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce surrendered.

Some trivia here – in 1968 I was playing in the Chinook High School band and we played for an event at the present day Bear Paw Battlefield. I believe it was a ceremony in honor of this area becoming a state park.

Bar W Ranch


Take a wagon ride with the friendly cowboys and cowgirls at Bar W, located just outside Whitefish, and let the sounds of the horse’s hooves take you back in time. After a scenic ride around the ranch, relax with a Montana-style dinner and live music from a local country singer.

Double Arrow Ranch

Seeley Lake

Climb aboard an old-fashioned Conestoga wagon and enjoy the scenery near Seeley Lake as you’re pulled behind a beautiful team of Percheron horses.

Gaynors Resorts


Experience the Old West near Whitefish with a wagon ride where you’ll be pulled effortlessly by Molly and Dolly.

Swan Mountain Outfitters


From their location in the Swan Valley, take a picturesque wagon ride through the Flathead National Forest, pulled by Cagney and Lacey. Or take a wagon ride followed by a cowboy steak dinner, more fondly called a Beef ‘N Buggy.

The Resort Paws Up


During your stay on this 37,000-acre ranch in Greenough, make plans to take a scenic wagon ride and make an unforgettable memory as you ride smoothly behind the ranch’s handsome team of Percheron horses.

Teton Wagon Train

Teton Wagon Train & Horse Adventure

Nestled between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, the covered wagons line out for an incomparable trek full of majestic views. Gentle riding horses are available for those who would like to ride from camp to camp or trail ride further into the back-country to visit waterfalls and viewing areas. Your wagon master and cowboy and cowgirl guides are all expert horsemen.

Your covered wagon is a modern version of the old Conestoga Wagons, equipped with rubber tires and padded seats for your comfort. Spend four days and three nights in new camps each day where moose, elk and deer are frequent visitors. Enjoy two peaceful evenings on the shores of high mountain lakes, home of the Loon and the Trumpeter Swan.

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Weise River Trail / Idaho

Historic Trails West / Wyoming

Days of 76

Cheyenne to Deadwood Wagon Train & Trail Ride
Black Hills Route

This ride will emphasize history and beauty of the Black Hills. This wagon train and trail ride will travel through the picturesque pine and spruce forests with aspen and birch stands, mountain meadows with native grasses, flowers and shrubs and along clear cold streams. The ride will start at the Canyon Springs Stage Stop near Four Corners, Wyoming, which was the site of the famous Canyon Springs Stagecoach robbery, which is purported to be the only successful robbery of the Cheyenne to Deadwood stage.The trail will wind through the cool high country of the West Central Black Hills following portions and visiting stops on the original Cheyenne to Deadwood routes. the trail will also follow portions of the historic 1874 Custer Black Hills Expedition and visit Custer’s campsites.

The Cheyenne to Deadwood Wagon Train and Trail Ride will be leaving the Canyon Springs Stage Stop, a few miles east of Four Corners, Wyoming on August 13, 2018 and arriving in Deadwood, South Dakota on August 18, 2018.


Adults: $375
Children (age 13-17): $250
Children (age 12 and under: FREE
Daily Pass: $100 including Meals

Click below for application:

Application (PDF)

Ft. Seward, North Dakota

Howdy!   Since 1969, Fort Seward, Inc. holds an annual family oriented (bring the kids!) covered wagon train adventure, history talks, camping, nature lore, saddle horses permitted. The wagon train is usually held during the month of June and starts at the Fort Seward Infantry Post, Jamestown, North Dakota USA.

We welcome families and individuals from all walks of life and it is not required to own or to ride a horse to participate. Our annual event is suitable for families and individuals who enjoy the outdoors and camping. Whether you walk, ride the wagon or bring your own horse…you’ll never forget the once in a life time experience with our Fort Seward Wagon Train!

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Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous

Cattle Drives

Cattle Drives

Triple Creek

McGinnis Meadows

Montana High Country Cattle Drive provides drives which will give all riders the opportunity to really move cattle. Many other cattle drives move just a few cattle. During our drives, guests move between 400 and 1000 head of cattle. To give each guest the possibility to chase cattle we have a number of mini cattle drives going on within the large cattle drive.



Custer State Park

Terry Bison Ranch (WY)

Blackfeet Culture Camp