Highlighting the diversity of the American West has always been a hallmark of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The galleries and extensive art collections, three halls of fame inside the museum and now their brand new educational experience bring that philosophy to life.
Slated to originally open in March just in time for spring break, Liichokoshkomo is now open, inviting families to embark on a hands-on journey into the past. The multi-million dollar, outdoor play space is an educational experience showcasing the pioneering people who have made the West their home.
Visitors start the experience in the newly updated Prosperity Junction, a replica turn-of-the-twentieth-century cattle town. Your first stop is a bit more modern amenity. An auditorium-style theatre plays a dynamic film setting the stage for the journey ahead.
Next up is a stroll through a dimmed street lined with historic shops and businesses common to settlement towns. My kids’ favorite is always the sheriff’s office with a jail in the back and the bank which make for a irresistible role play of cops and robbers, second of course to when the museum serves up tasty samples of sarsaparilla in the saloon.
Then, it’s time to head outside!
You are greeted with an impressive view of the Rockies and a covered wagon camp. If you look a little bit to the left, you’ll see a herd of bison and a sod house. Journey a bit further and you can explore a train depot, trading post and towering cliff dwellings (which are impressively detailed. My kids noted they were “just like the ones we saw at Mesa Verde.”).
My favorite part was the different Native structures that delve into the diversity of Native American cultures. Often times, TV show and movies emulate a narrow aspect of tribal cultures. Liicho dives much deeper. My kids raced to each structure eager to explore inside each one. I was impressed to find an immersive environment inside including a fire, some had seating and they even incorporate sound. It’s like you are really there.
Kids can keep the fun going with hands-on activities like cattle roping and corn grinding and there is a playground nearby. Some of the activities aren’t available just yet but are coming soon when it’s safe to do so.
Our final stop was a shady spot in front of a towering waterfall. We sat at a nearby picnic table to enjoy the view and talk about our favorite parts and where we were headed next. (In case you wanted to know, it was back to Prosperity Junction for one more round of sheriff.)
My family has anxiously awaited our “spring break” visit to Liichokoshkomo for much longer than we had expect but it did not disappoint!
Born and raised in the Oklahoma City metro and a graduate of the Gaylord College of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, Lindsay Cuomo has worked for MetroFamily since 2014 covering local stories, people and events. Lindsay is a mom to three school-aged boys and calls Moore, Oklahoma home.