Ring in the Fourth with these Western adventures that celebrate an independent spirit
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Courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch
Wild West Glory
Turn the holiday into a weeklong escape with the Independence Celebration package at Brush Creek Ranch (from $900 per night), a tony dude ranch in Wyoming’s North Platte River Valley. At this 30,000-acre locale—committed to preserving and promoting the culture of the West—the fam can spend time riding horses, fly fishing on trout-rich waters, hiking with a ranger, telling stories ‘round the campfire, and boot scootin’ the night away. Since lodging is capped at about 150 guests, everyone gets individualized service and plenty of space to roam. Ask for an off-the-grid cabin or extra overnight yurt experience to lure kiddos away from devices and into the wild. Don’t worry about the fireworks either—Brush Creek puts on a stellar display.
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Courtesy of Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad/Kim Todd
Fall in love with train travel on the Cumbres & Toltec 4th of July Dinner Train, a five-hour sunset ride along the Colorado-New Mexico state line. Don your star-spangled best and hop on this 1800s steam locomotive for an evening that includes dinner at 10,000 feet, a patriotic clothing contest, and epic scenery. Your ride will afford amazing views of dramatic peaks at dusk, flower-filled meadows, steep canyons, moonlit rivers, and wildlife galore. The train rolls into Chama, New Mexico, at 10 p.m.—just in time to see the town’s fireworks (people drive from all over to catch the show) from the train.
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Courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Those who revel in hot weather should hightail it to Scottsdale, where many properties offer discounted rates for the sizzling summer months. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hosts the biggest hotel party with its 4th of July Freedom Fest (think: four nights of fireworks, a vintage air show, and a Michael Jackson tribute band). The Best. Summer. Ever. deal starts at $199 and includes a daily $50 resort credit and a free sesh with the hotel’s Instagram Concierge (as in, someone who teaches you how to take the perfect Insta shot). For cooler pursuits, head to WestWorld for the town’s indoor Independence Day party—air conditioning and cute puppies included.
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Courtesy of Travel Portland/Brit Forbes Photography
Rollin’ on the River
Bridgetown puts the blues in the country’s red, white, and blue celebration during its Waterfront Blues Festival on the Willamette River. Big-name acts like The Mavericks and Beth Hart take the stage for the biggest blues gathering in the West. What’s more, the event provides front-row seating to Oregon’s largest fireworks show. Book a night at the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel to see the lights from your room (hint: The corner suites with numbers ending in “01” have the best vantage point); be sure to request the Park, Stay and Go deal (from $365 with a two-night minimum), which includes valet parking—a godsend during the busy holiday week.
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Courtesy of Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce
Jackson Hole’s cowboy bash is about as Wild West as it gets. The party starts on the morning of July 3 with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on the town square. You’ll find family-friendly parades and frontier town reenactments. To boot, there are two rodeos (one at the fairgrounds and another at the Snake River Sporting Club, which also hosts a barbecue dinner for members and guests), as well as two firework shows (Jackson Hole and Grand Teton Village). If all of that is not enough, those Teton views will sure have you feeling proud to be an American.
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Courtesy of WK Real Estate
The Rocky Mountain town of Boulder debuts 4th on Pearl this year, a music festival and street party that builds on its popular Wednesday concert series at Pearl Street Mall. But first, start the morning at the Craig Towler Freedom 5/10k at Boulder Reservoir—a must in this famously active town (psst: Spectating is just fine). Then, make your way to the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall to snag a cold one at the 4th on Pearl’s beer garden and boogie to live tunes from four bands spanning the musical genre spectrum. Fest-goers can take a free shuttle to Folsom Field for the 77-year-old Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast—one of the rowdiest firework displays in the West, complete with a stadium-wide sing-a-long. Plan to stay at St. Julien Hotel & Spa, conveniently stationed one block off Pearl Street. The hotel typically hosts a cookout with lawn games, too.
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Courtesy of Silverado Resort and Spa
Raise a glass to the red and white (wine) magic of Napa, which is back in business following the October 2017 wildfires. The historic Silverado Resort and Spa (pictured) was one the properties damaged in the fires, but the staff doubled down to get the place back up to its cushy standards. On July 3rd, Silverado celebrates America’s birthday with a banging barbecue and fireworks display on its 1,200-acre grounds. The revelry continues throughout town at the Napa County Fair in Calistoga, as well as other small-town gatherings in American Canyon and St. Helena—also home to some heavyweight wineries like Beringer (the oldest continually operating winery in Napa) and Robert Mondavi Winery (credited with putting California wines on the map).
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Creative Commons photo by Mr Hicks46 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Alaska summers are known for long days with 19 to 23 hours of daylight, which means party all day and all night. Anchorage starts early with a blowout in the community of Eagle River on July 3. The next day, hop around downtown for parades, live music, and street food. In July, you get a little darkness around midnight, so you can expect a late-night fireworks show at the baseball stadium following the doubleheader between the Glacier Pilots and the Bucs. Make friends with the locals to get invited to any of the after-hours barbecues and block parties that pop up as spirited Alaskans take advantage of their place in the sun.
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Courtesy of Tahoe South/Brad Scott Visuals
Thinking of visiting Lake Tahoe for the holiday? One of the biggest fireworks displays in the West goes down at Tahoe South, where the Sierra Nevada mountains and massive lake make for a particularly picturesque show. It gets crowded—with more than 100,000 spectators expected for the evening—but the magnitude of the show means there are plenty of viewing spots. Your best bet is to catch the lights from the water (Zephyr Cove’s M.S. Dixie II has a great dinner experience). Or, if you’re into hiking, trek 4.5 miles up to Mount Tallac to see the the lights at eye-level. Shore viewers should get a room at the newly opened Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, where the 4th of July package (from $1,525 for two nights) includes access to the resort’s shindig and prime seating for the fireworks.
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Courtesy of The Broadmoor
Nature Meets Nurture
Spread across 300 acres about five miles from downtown Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor was built to be the Grand Dame of the Rockies. For the Fourth, the luxe, 100-year-old resort goes all out with a five-day jubilee with fireworks over the lake, free movies nightly, and classes. The holiday package, starting at $1,280, is engineered to make you spend as much time inside as outside with a beefy dining credit for the hotel’s lauded restaurants and nature excursions at Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls. It’s the ideal mix of luxury hospitality and rugged Colorado.