One exciting and unusual idea for a summer vacation is visiting some of the many Western film locations throughout the US. There is nothing quite like seeing these iconic settings in person after seeing them on the screen. We think you will find walking through these pieces of American history incredibly satisfying. A few of our favorite picks:

  1. Bronson Canyon This canyon in Los Angeles was used as a Western film location several times. It first showed up in the early John Wayne film "Sagebrush Trail." Wayne revisited the location during the climax of John Ford's classic Western "The Searchers." In addition to those, it has been used as a setting for other Westerns including "The Lone Ranger Rides Again," "Hello Trouble," and "Honor of the Range." Getting there: Bronson Canyon. 3200 Canyon Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90068

  2. Vasquez Rocks This highly recognizable rock formation in Southern California is also a favorite spot for hikers and other visitors. This Western film location appears in movies such as "Son of the Border," "Young Buffalo Bill" and "Dakota." It was also used in a number of western TV shows like "The Lone Ranger," "Gunsmoke" and "The Gene Autry Show." Getting there: Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center; 10700 West Escondido Canyon Road; Agua Dulce, California 91390

  3. Kernville Audiences first saw The townn of Kernville in such films as "Frontier Gal," "Stagecoach" and "Showdown." This small western village is now a popular tourist destination as well as an often used Western film location. Be sure to check out Whiskey Flats Days, which kicks off each year on President's Day. Getting there: Kernville is 42 miles northeast of Bakersfield, California.

  4. Pioneertown This is the only location on this list specifically founded as a western movie location The town was built in 1946 and appeared in films such as "Riders in the Sky," "Last of the Pony Riders" and "Silver Canyon." During filming, extras in the movies would actually live in the town. Getting there: Pioneertown is located in southern California between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree.

  5. Littlerock Dam This Western movie site figured prominently in both "The Far Frontier" and "The Bells of Coronado." Now, the dam is a recreation area where visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing and boating. Be sure to call before you go, however, as the park is sometimes closed when droughts cause the water levels to fall too low. Getting there: The Littlerock Dam is located in Palmdale, California.