The first inhabitants of Yellowstone country were mountain men who survived by trapping, hunting and fishing the area’s abundant wildlife.
Many of them got together once or twice a year to trade furs and hunting equipment at gatherings known as a rendezvous, a French word meaning “appointed place of meeting.”
Many rendezvous reenactments are still held today in Yellowstone country.
Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous in West Yellowstone, Montana
Typically held for 10 days in late-July to early-August, the event has an 1800s encampment with entertainment, demonstrations and seminars related to trades and crafts of the 1800s. Storytelling, traders row, beading, leatherwork, parfletch, knife and hawk throwing, primitive bow shooting and competition, primitive bow making, flint knapping and food are all part of these events. Entrance is free to the public. www.twoturtlestradingpost.com/events.html
Green River Rendezvous in Pinedale, Wyoming
One of the region’s best is the Green River Rendezvous held the second weekend of July. It includes Wyoming’s oldest historical pageant started in 1936 and features action-packed reenactments filled with fur trappers, missionaries, Native Americans and explorers. www.visitpinedale.org/discover/popular-attractions/green-river-rendezvous
1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous in Riverton, Wyoming
Typically held the week leading to and the weekend of July 4, the Riverton Rendezvous is the only rendezvous re-enactment located on the actual true historic site. Walk in the same footsteps of great trappers and traders from the past such as Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Joe Meek, Andrew Drips, William Drummond Stewart, Moses “Black” Harris and others. Watch old fashion black powder shooting, tomahawk ‘n knife competitions from the nostalgic fur trapping era. Saturday is family day with activities. Learn fire-starting with flint and steel, dutch-oven cooking, flint knapping, Teepee set-up and organization, trap-setting, skinning and hooping furs, embroidery and historical information about the era. www.1838rendezvous.com
Other Rendezvous Near Yellowstone
Other rendezvous of note include:
– Red Lodge Rendezvous in Red Lodge, Montana
– Port-Neuf Muzzleloaders Mountain Man Rendezvous in McCammon, Idaho
– Fort Bridger Rendezvous in Lyman, Wyoming
– Bear River Rendezvous in Evanston, Wyoming