Explore Mark Twain's West

See the Western places that made the celebrated American author famous

Mark Twain book cover

The West through the eyes—and words—of a legend

He’s ours too. Thanks to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) is forever linked to the Mississippi River. But the American West made him a writer. He came out here in 1861, age 26, taking the Oregon and California Trails across Wyoming, over the Rockies, through the Nevada desert to the Comstock Lode mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. Threatened with arrest for dueling, he fled to San Francisco, and eventually sailed to the Hawaiian Islands. (Twain recounted these travels in Roughing It—still one of the most entertaining books ever written about the West.)

This month, University of California Press is publishing, for the first time, Autobiography of Mark Twain. It’s not your usual polite autobiography. In fact, it’s so candid and opinionated that Twain decided it shouldn’t be published until 100 years after his death. Few self-portraits are as vivid, intimate, or surprising.

One of the best things about reading Twain is that he makes you want to sample his adventures yourself. Luckily, that’s easy to do—all you have to do is follow in the tracks of his books. Here, Sunset presents our Top 10 places to experience Mark Twain’s West.


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