You don’t need a reason to party in the Wild, Wild, West, but Dodge City has a great reason for their yearlong celebrations this year. You only turn 150 once, so you better do it big, and you better do it right. If you’ve been wanting to make your way out west, 2022 is the year to do it.
You can’t come to Dodge without a visit to Boot Hill Museum, which happens to be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year (I know, more reason to party)! The museum underwent an expansion and renovation in 2020 and features interactive exhibits to explain Dodge City’s history and how it became the wildest in the west. From full shot glasses waiting for a hand, to a bison stampede, and an aerial train choo-choosing overhead, this museum has surprises waiting for you around each corner.
The “Deputy Pass” gets you to access to the entire museum and buildings on the complex and is available throughout the year. I highly recommend the “Marshal Pass”, it’s available from Memorial Day to Labor Day and includes tickets to the Gun Fight, Country Style Dinner, and the Long Branch Saloon Variety Show. Reservations are encouraged for the Marshal Pass.
After you finish exploring the inside exhibits, take those walkin’ boots outside to the original site of Boot Hill Cemetery. You can learn about the unfortunate souls that lost their lives in historic Dodge giving an honest glimpse of death in the west. What the grave markers omit, the historical plaques throughout cleverly explain how these pioneers met their fate, such as “A buffalo hunter named McGill amused himself by shooting into every house he passed. He won’t pass this way again.”
You’ll get to stroll the boardwalk and experience life from a long time gone. Things can get rowdy, so be prepared for a famous gunfight reenactment as rowdy cowboys stir up things with the local law. You get an up-close seat to all the action on historic Front Street. Before you leave, don’t forget to shop around the gift shop. After my visit, I’m the proud new owner of a classic cowgirl hat and colorful poncho, just in time for festival season!
Make the most of your visit and plan to stay a few days. Here are some ideas to add to your itinerary!
Boot Hill Distillery - Born from a barrel. Forged in the dust. Crafted by artisan distillers, from soil to sip.
Dodge City’s legacy was built on the ashes of the campfire and the footprints of a bar, and we’re proud to be continuing that legacy here at Boot Hill Distillery. With a craftsman’s eye for the highest quality ingredients, grain grew ourselves, and a dedication to ethically sourcing ingredients we can’t produce in-house, we bring new meaning to sustainability and transparency in craft distilling. We’re proud to be part of the spiritual revolution of Dodge City, western Kansas, and the Old West.
Carnegie Center for the Arts - Enjoy a tour of this unique art center located in historic downtown Dodge City. Originally an Andrew Carnegie Library, the building's history will fascinate those who enter the door on the corner.
Featuring a round, second-story gallery, this unique home to the Dodge City Arts Council provides gallery space and a small gift shop for local artisans.
Dodge City Raceway Park - This 3/8 mile dirt track hosts thousands of racing fans each season and boasts an impressive racing schedule. Their featured events are:
- High Horsepower Weekly Racing
- Modified & Northern Sport Modified 'Boot Hill Championship'
- Sooner Late Model Series Special
- 'Wild West' National Tractor Pull-off sanctioned by NTPA
- '9th Annual Jerry Soderberg Memorial Championship'
- Stock Car - Hobby Stock Shootout
- 'Dodge City Flat Track Motorcycle Nationals'
- 'Steve King Memorial Sprint Car & Midget Nationals'
- DCRP 'Young Guns'
Dodge City Trail of Fame - Part of the Historic Dodge City Walking Tour. This portion of the trail is marked with sidewalk medallions and statuaries to commemorate the many famous and infamous denizens of historic Dodge City. Additionally, many medallions are dedicated to notable movie and television stars that have portrayed famous Dodge Citians.
Long Branch Lagoon Water Park - Over 27,000 square feet full of fun and exciting family aquatic adventure await. Float along Cowboy Creek, the 720-foot lazy river, relax, and feel the waves at Wrangler Rapids wave pool. Rip down Dalton’s Plunge, the boomerang slide that will take your breath away, and enjoy sprays, water cannons, dumping buckets, and more at Fort Splash, the shallow water pool, and play structure. And there’s a lot more, a climbing wall, drop slides, diving towers, Olympic sized lap pool, and water basketball.
To commemorate its 150th Anniversary, Dodge City has a couple of significant events that you need to experience this summer!
Founders Weekend - June 17-19, 2022
Friday evening, get tossed back into 1872 with Hoover Day, a celebration of George Hoover's inaugural glass of whiskey with Hoover's Bar, concert, and food trucks. Saturday kicks off with a 5-Mile run past some of Dodge City's most historical sites, the fun continues at the Boot Hill Museum with a special exhibit ribbon-cutting, can-can lessons, deputizing, and a special performance from the Dodge City Cowboy Band, and can-can world record attempt. On Sunday, the Ford County Historical Society unveils the Bat Masterson statue at the Mueller-Schmidt House.
Dodge City Days - July 28 – August 7, 2022
The Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce joins us in celebrating Dodge City's 150th Anniversary by making it the theme of this year's Dodge City Days. This 10-day, world-class community festival to honor and celebrate our western heritage has been running for more than 70 years. The second-largest community festival in Kansas draws approximately one hundred thousand visitors to Dodge City every year. Annual events include the Western Parade, Longhorn Cattle Drive, KidFest, PRCA