National Frontier Trails Museum

Planning a Visit

There's plenty to do at the National Frontier Trails Museum.
Watch a film in our theater, tour the exhibits, see real wagon ruts, enjoy a wagon ride, and check out our gift shop.

See below for more information.

museum buggy display

Film and Exhibits

Begin your visit by viewing the museum's introductory film, "West," a 17-minute movie that offers an overview of America's westward expansion.

The museum's exhibit gallery recreates the story of those who traveled the trails with excerpts from original journals and diaries, illustrations and artifacts. The exhibits also include the explorations of Lewis and Clark, the vital role of fur trappers and traders, and the unique story of Mormons looking for religious freedom.

Most visitors take about 1 to 1½ hours to tour the exhibits.  


museum shop

Gift Shop

The museum gift shop has an extensive collection of trails-related merchandise for all ages.

We have souvenirs, books, maps, prints, toys, games, t-shirts and much more. While you are here, create your own souvenir at our penny press machine. 

Trail Swales

During the trails period, 1000s of wagons rolled down the hill from the Courthouse Square and passed over the property where the museum now sits. Evidence of the migration can still be seen today in the form of swales, or wagon ruts, left in the field directly across the street from the museum campus. A 1/4-mile long asphalt pathway circles around the swales. Interpretive signs give information about the swales and what it was like to begin the long trail journey. Handicapped accessible. 

wagon ride

Covered Wagon Tour

Add to your museum experience by taking a covered wagon tour! The museum offers combination tickets that include museum admission and covered wagon tour through historic Independence. Wagon tours are provided by Pioneer Trails Adventures. Wagon tours are seasonal and subject to weather conditions.

Combination Ticket Prices

Ages 6-12  $10.00
Age 12 and older  $16.00  


Chicago and Alton Depot

Chicago and Alton Depot

This two-story train depot, built in 1879, has been restored on the grounds of the museum. The Depot is operated by the Friends of the Chicago and Alton Depot.

9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Monday & Wednesday-Saturday

12:30-4:30 pm

Open April-October

Merrill J. Mattes Research Library

The Merrill J. Mattes Research Library at the National Frontier Trails Museum is a public research library focused on the overland trails and the acquisition and settlement of the American West. We welcome researchers, genealogists and anyone with an academic interest in the trails to explore our collection.

9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday - Friday, by appointment only.

Group Tours

The museum welcomes your group tour. Group rate is $5/adult. To book a group tour call (816)325-7575.

Interested in visiting multiple Independence historic sites, contact Visit Independence.