Virtual Trail

Online Adventures on The Oregon, California Trails!


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

For thirty springs, emigrants gathered at points along the great Mississippi 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 toward Utah and California or Oregon and Washington in Idaho. 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 Guides

National Park Service Auto Route Interpretive Guides – Explore the National Pioneer 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.

That first migration of Latter-day Saints to the Great Basin occurred in two stages: in 1846, from western Illinois to the Missouri River in the area of today’s Council Bluffs, Iowa; and in 1847, from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City. This Auto Tour Route interpretive guide covers the 1846 segment of Mormon Trail from Illinois through Iowa.

Travel the trails to Chimney Rock as the Mormon Pioneers travelled! Chimney Rock is one of the most notable landmarks recorded in Emgirant Diaries and Journals.

Wyoming – Gateway to the West! Early explorers probed the Northern Rockies looking for the fabled “Northwest Passage” that would open an easy route to transcontinental traffic. Discover Wyoming and the amazing trail stories and auto tour routes.

Utah – Crossroads of the West Auto Route guides visitors along the Auto Tour Routes for the California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails across Utah. To make the tour more meaningful, this guide also provides a historical overview of the three trails, shares the thoughts and experiences of emigrants who followed these routes, and discusses how the westward expansion impacted the native peoples of what is now Utah.

Travel the Auto Tour Route of 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.

By FamartinOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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


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 West on a wagon train. See the official site 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.