Western Historic Trails Center

Western Historic Trails Center, Council Bluffs: Hours, Address, Western Historic Trails Center Reviews: 4/5

Western Historic Trails Center

Western Historic Trails Center
4
Visitor Centers • History Museums
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Wednesday
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.0
43 reviews
Excellent
12
Very good
19
Average
10
Poor
0
Terrible
2

Linda C
Marshalltown, IA239 contributions
Family
I have been visiting around the State to see all of the attractions (have 3 left) on the State Historic Sites Passport (can be obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa or at any of the sites (free) We all had a great visit on Saturday viewing the Center. I enjoyed all the detailed maps (INTERACTIVE buttons to push for information) of the settlers to the State. The Oregon Trail and Donner Pass the then and now maps. The exhibits artwork and rock sculpture displayed were enjoyed by me and my family. We took many photos here. The facility has very great accommodations for all individuals and this is kept very clean and handicap accessible. Learned there are weekly events occurring here there was a Karaoke event taking place the afternoon we visited. You may do so at your leisure depending on your interests (we were here well over an hour did not tour the outside grounds). I learned on this visit about the Lewis and Clark Pups Seaman, a Newfoundland dog owned by Meriwether Lewis, accompanied the Lewis & Clark expedition. Very helpful individual (at counter where I got my passport stamped) who was able to answer my questions. This is a free will donation.
Written April 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

IDtoWI
Cozumel, Mexico38 contributions
Family
This center tells the story of the Mormon pioneers who moved west during the 1800's. It sits right next to the beautiful temple and there are many grave markers on these grounds of people who died there. There is a short movie that brings to life some of the sacrifices and trials that these people endured. The displays depict the homes they lived in, and the circumstances of their situation. Some of the stories are heartbreaking, and many are inspiring. This was a very worthwhile visit!
Written August 15, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Smilerbriggs
Boise, ID55 contributions
Couples
An excellent and ambitious museum covering all the Overland Trails that were associated with Council Bluffs including the Lewis and Clark, Mormon, California and Oregon Trails as well as the Pony Express.
It also has extensive grounds (over 400 acres) through which it is possible to hike down to the Missouri River. There are also Mountain Biking Trails.
Not surprisingly, the Mormon Trail is better covered than is the Oregon Trail. For example, in the detailed panels the O.T skips from Soda Springs all the way to the Dalles, thereby bypassing some of the most difficult parts of the journey such as the Snake Canyon, Massacre Rocks, Three Island Crossing, the Blue Mountains. It means as well that Fort Hall is not covered, although separate photos elsewhere in the museum do show Shoshone and Twin Falls as well as Fort Hall.
All that said - this is a wonderful museum explaining the important role of Council Bluffs in westward expansion. It suffers from lack of maintenance and updating. The state of Iowa should more fully support this treasure.
Written August 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Paul H
Tucson, AZ220 contributions
We have been very interested in learning about the various trails through out the west and have seen many monuments and displays over the years. This by far is the worst. It's not worth the price of admission (and its free). We stopped on a weekday afternoon in the summer and were the only ones there - we now know why.

While some of the displays are just OK, the 12 minute video is just awful. You think you are watching a high school freshman project where the student maybe got a C-. It has to be about 15 years old and I just don't get the point of showing a family in a mini camper crossing the great west. Very disappointing. If you want to learn about the various wagon trails go somewhere else.
Written August 7, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ElGrandioso
Sierra Vista, AZ40 contributions
Solo
Like many national park visitor centers, this is an interpretive museum in a park with park rangers. There's a large room with displays and interpretive signs that tell the background and history of the big westward trails: Lewis & Clark, California, Mormon Pioneer, California, and the Pony Express. The museum also relates the human journey, from pushcart pioneers to native Americans. And they show how our modern highway and interstate system developed after the trails. Outside are grassy park areas, bike and walking paths, and more displays, including a large sculpture that tells the story of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Don't forget to go across the Missouri River to the Lewis & Clark Visitor Center in Omaha just a few miles away, and then the Lewis & Clark Center in Sioux City, SD, to name just a few other destinations.

The building itself has interesting architecture, with rough stone in a circular design with radiating sections, and a entrance walkway with engraved native American tribe names, and a large stone model cross section of the Western USA showing elevation changes.
Written June 15, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Terry S
Green Valley, AZ1,345 contributions
Couples
Most people settling the West passed through Council Bluffs, and this center does a great job explaining how this all happened and how history was affected.
Written December 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Linda B
Council Bluffs73 contributions
Couples
Very good place to go. It is free to go in. They do collect donations. After going in to the building and looking at things, you can go outside and walk clear to the Missouri River. A lot of times they have free activities there also.
Written November 30, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Amm Wander IN B
Lawrenceburg, IN31 contributions
Family
Our visit here was on the last day of a fabulous family trip west to several national parks. We stopped at the Western Historic Trails Center on the last morning before a very long drive home. We are all interested in the years of western expansion.

First and foremost, the staff at the museum were very nice and helpful. We later appreciated them very much.

With that said, the museum itself was a little disappointing. It was nothing out of the ordinary and we left feeling it focused a little more on more recent years and how interstates replaced the western trails. We watched the 14 minute video and thought it was a complete waste of time. It was a long series of quick glimpses of pictures of the western expansion and videos from what looked like the '60's of a family traveling out west. There were many shots of little girls jumping on hotel room beds and fighting in the car, etc... I imagine it was intended to be thought provoking and artistic. However, we considered it not at all informative or what we stopped there for.

To make matters much worse, after spending two weeks parked in very secluded locations back long deserted roads, at 9:30am that Saturday morning we returned to our van after an hour in the Visitor's Center/Western Historic Trails Center to find our van window smashed out and numerous bags had been stolen. Well over $1500 of equipment and personal items were gone. We were parked several feet from a sign that read, "This property under video surveillance." But of course, as I expected, it wasn't. The camera had quit working and they hadn't yet fixed it.

We knew we were taking a risk with spotting scopes, binoculars, cameras with special lenses, etc... in our van in those remote places. We carried everything in and out every night at hotels. We just didn't expect to loose so much at the Council Bluffs visitor center and a national park center at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday! Such a huge disappointment.
Written September 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dix_M123
Maryville, Missouri, United States222 contributions
Family
Tours are led by volunteer guides with a vested interest. There is a variety of hands on artifacts and learning for all ages. We are not of the Morman faith, but still found it very interesting. Well worth the time to visit.
Written April 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dmarkwind
Kansas City, MO2,659 contributions
Couples
Given that admission is free, this small museum is probably worth a visit if you have an interest in the subject matter. The Western Historic Trails Center is about the nation’s westward expansion and more specifically about the California, Oregon, and Mormon trails, which passed near this spot. If you’re planning to go to Omaha from Kansas City or any other route via I-29, the center really isn’t out of your way as it is located just south of exit 1B on the Council Bluffs side of the Missouri River adjacent to Omaha. Inside the center, you’ll find a theater with a short film and the rest of the museum is basically one big room. There are panels to read about life on the trail and the various issues which faced pioneers. There are photos, illustrations, and in some cases, video footage, to go with the exhibit text and above the text are sheet metal sculptures which generally illustrate the trek westward. Our most recent visit was in early March 2012 and we noticed that there was no artwork on the museum's back wall above the exhibits. The woman at the desk said all the artwork had been taken away in precaution of possible flooding the previous summer and the museum was just in the process of getting them back from storage. The museum backs up to the Missouri River levy and apparently came within inches of overflowing. That great gift shop referenced by other reviewers? The woman at the desk said it was recently closed due to budget cuts, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me since one would assume it was a revenue-producing function. She also said the museum is in the process of seeking funds for new exhibits. I did not realize before this visit that the center is "stampable" for national parks passports, so if you have a passport, be sure to bring it! If you do visit the museum, be sure to check out the small monument on the south side of the parking lot which features mosaic art themed around the Lewis & Clark Expedition. We’ve never taken the time to walk the trails here, but I would be interested in doing that someday.
Written March 26, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Western Historic Trails Center is open:
  • Wed - Sun 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM


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