a weekend at the mountain man rendezvous, fort bridger!


we spent labor day weekend up at fort bridger, wyoming for the annual “mountain man rendezvous.” i have blogged about fort bridger before (see HERE and HERE and HERE) but the rendezvous is a re-enactment and celebration of the annual gathering of mountain men, fur traders and native americans which took place between 1825 and 1840. my family has gone and participated in the rendezvous at fort bridger each year since i was a little girl. it’s become a big family tradition for us. josh and i have attended a few times over our years back east together, but aren’t able to make it every year. we hadn’t been back since eleanor was a tiny baby, so this year was especially fun for us since we were able to introduce eleanor and samson to so many new traditions and cultures and experiences.

we learned that the fort expanded on the location for these gatherings and was fully established back in 1843 by jim bridger. it became the biggest trading post in the west for mountain men and indians and eventually helped pioneers, settlers, the US army, the pony express, union pacific railroad, and others travel and live in the west.  this rendezvous is known as one of the largest mountain man gatherings in the nation, with over 40,000 visitors during the year!

there is a lot that goes on during the rendezvous like presentations and reenactments by national historians, cooking competitions and frying pan tosses (ha!). there are a lot of archery, black powder rifle and pistol shooting competitions and games for the little ones. and there is incredible music and dancing that goes on as well. there are over 100 traders who set up small shops in white canvas tents around the fort to sell and trade things from that time period like pottery, blankets, furs,  leather, tools, clothing, moccasins, jewelry and even antique rifles. it’s a party!

everyone is welcome to come shop and visit during the rendezvous each day, but my family stays inside the grounds of fort bridger each year. (we’re crazy like that.) you can stay inside the grounds if you have a tipi or old-fashioned canvas tent and if all of your dress or items brought for the weekend are pre 1840’s and in the style of the people who would have attended the rendezvous back in the day.  it’s honestly so much fun! i think it’s one of those things you would either love or hate, and maybe we all just love it so much because we grew up doing it, but the experience is pretty incredible. it always gives me such an appreciation for our history and what those who came before us went through.  we are pretty lucky in this day and age. modern conveniences like bathrooms and running water are such luxuries and then there i am getting caught up in silly stuff like wanting some new fancy gadget or item that i seriously do not need. anyway, it was so great to get to go again this year and we had a good time.  if you’re interested in reading more about fort bridger, you can check out this website HERE.

also, i feel it necessary to share that i am sensitive to and respect others cultures which are different from my own.  this has been a great opportunity for me and my family growing up to learn first hand about the many peoples and cultures that gathered and gather together at these rendezvous’ by spending time along side them, learning about and honoring and preserving their histories and heritages together. it is a celebration and i’m thankful for the experiences it has given me.

a few photos if you’d like to see….



^^^one of eleanor’s favorite parts was watching all the dancing and drumming performed by native american dancers, singers, and drummers. they performed several times each day and  were fantastic. we got to perform the friendship dance with them which was a lot of fun, too!^^^


^^^the sky was a real treat every evening when the sun set. it was so beautiful.^^^


^^^here are some “mountain men” dressed the way fur trappers and traders did from the 1830s.^^^


^^^i’m not the only one whose eyes disappear when i smile. ;) i love these guys.^^^



^^^so happy to spend time with their aunts! although we missed you lots, rachel.^^^

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^^^getting all ready for the children’s blanket trade. (all the little ones staying in the fort bring something they made to trade, if they’d like. once they agree on a trade with another child, they must shake hands.  it’s very very cute.) eleanor and samson made little sailboats and E traded hers for a little wicker basket and samson traded his for a blue beaded necklace.^^^


^^^here’s samson and his little sailboat, all ready for the trade!^^^


^^^i could eat dutch oven cooking every day for the rest of my life and be so very happy.^^^

^^^this is what fort bridger looked like back in the 1840’s around the time the rendezvous gatherings occurred.^^^


^^^many vendors sell and trade leather materials and a lot of people make their own clothing in the proper traditional handmade fashion. my mom actually makes all of our clothing every year, and is sure to keep within the correct guidelines so everything is period-correct as we stay in the fort each year and it is one of the requirements for those who stay.^^^


^^^stealing kisses before the children’s games begin!^^^

^^^samson spotted a grasshopper hopping around our camp and was completely enamored by the little guy! we caught him and enjoyed a few minutes of peering at him up close in a jar so we could get a good look at him before letting him go again.^^^


^^^the hoop dance is incredible!^^^


^^^my dad snapped this photo of samson and me crashing outside on the grass one afternoon during his nap time (and i steal naps any chance i can get these days, ha!) josh and i actually cheated this year when it comes to rendezvous and stayed in a tiny nearby hotel with the kids each night. the last time we were at fort bridger, eleanor was just six months old and it would get so cold at night that i was really nervous this year about keeping the kiddos warm. between that and trying to find a comfortable way to sleep each night with my own growing baby bump, we figured a hotel might make the most sense over a long weekend of sleeping bags on the floor.  this arrangement worked out really well for our family this year, although hopefully someday we’ll be able to sleep at the fort again, because so much goes on at night and i’m always sad to miss out.^^^


^^^a few of the beautiful things for sale or trade in the fort. ^^^

895467^^^we are bringing a few of these beautiful blankets back to new york city with us. we couldn’t pass them up, even if it means we are buying another suitcase this week.^^^


^^^there is endless music down each little pathway at fort bridger. between bagpipes and guitars and drums, it just really makes the experience.^^^


^^^my stress levels were a bit high all weekend with the open camp fires and hot coals everywhere with the kids.  all they wanted to do was help with everything (which is so great, i know, but also so scary.) my dad let them help move the coals on top of the dutch ovens around each night before dinner and it was the biggest deal for them! they were so happy to be contributing!^^^


^^^i’m not normally into sausage (bacon all the way) but this pregnancy has got me craving sausage all the time! i cannot get enough of it!^^^


^^^the tastiest raspberry crumble made in the dutch oven by my mama.^^^


^^^not just rock candy, but BLUE rock candy. someone was happy.^^^



^^^running to give aunt bekah hugs!^^^


^^^this tiny dog did not forget his buckskin!^^^

^^^so my favorite meal at bridger is this chicken and rice dish my mom makes with scones on top. josh made it with her and says it should be easy to recreate at home in the oven, so i’m holding him to it. if it works out, i’ll share the recipe here because it’s so good.^^^


^^^s’mores with chocolate graham crackers!^^^


^^^taking off in the burlap sack race!^^^


^^^this little lady knows how to chuck a piece of corn and get it into the basket! do you see it flying mid air? i was very very proud. ;) ^^^


^^^trying his hand at carrying a spoonful of water several feet and pouring it into a cup before passing the spoon onto another child.  it’s so funny how simple these games are, but how much fun they can be! who needs an iPad!^^^


^^^his proud face!^^^


^^^tug of war with the rope!^^^

^^^samson spent most of his time at bridger near the little creek, where he’d sail boats or throw rocks. thankful to all my family members who spent a lot of time with him down there over the weekend. it was really hard to pull him away for much else.^^^


^^^well, don’t tell anyone, but we might have snuck in a few trains and cars for play.  not quite period-correct, but you can’t take his taxi cab away. it’s just not worth it.^^^


^^^making scones early one morning. pair these guys with honey butter and…BEST STUFF EVER.^^^


^^^my dad makes the best popcorn over the stove at our house.  he made some pretty great popcorn over the fire at bridger, too. we enjoyed big bowls each evening after dinner.^^^


fort bridger in years past, HERE and HERE and HERE.

  1. Aleksandra

    That looked like the best weekend ever! I would love to go there! And also, beautiful pictures!

  2. Lorene

    Every single picture is amazing!!!
    Really makes me wanna visit it… maybe one day if/when I’ll go to the USA ^^

  3. tilly

    looks like so much fun! the photos are so beautiful and the weather looks like it was a treat for you all! how good are family events like these?! getting everyone together is always so much fun….i was wondering when you would go back to this place as i had seen your posts about this place before a few years ago. oh and your littles, they are the cutest! ;)

  4. very Americana, love it. I grew up in North Dakota so there were much skimmed down versions of this to visit but not quite the immersion that’s here. Definitely something unique to the US. just curious, are they okay with cameras there? They seem like they must but didn’t know how they felt about modern electronics…Thanks for sharing!

    • TAZA

      fortunately cameras are allowed!

  5. ale Mazzonetto

    I’m SO happy to see this post up here again! I think this is one of my favorite posts. Your photos are delightful and so colorful. beautiful beautiful details within it all. Also, SO many photos of your kids and family that are so priceless. The one of samson and eleanor running to your sister, *cue my thumbs up emoji*

    glad you guys had such a good time Davis family :)

  6. liz

    looks amazing!!

  7. Maria

    Loved this post! Your kids are just getting more and more adorable by the minute :)

  8. Kat

    This is the most adorable post ever – everyone looks amazing in their period outfits and I think it’s great that your kids get to experience this and learn so much. I imagine the adults learn quite a lot too! Seriously awesome.

    Kat | http://thelondonplaybook.wordpress.com

  9. You just have the sweetest little family. My mom used to take us to a place like this when we were kids. Brought back so many good memories!

  10. Jessica

    This looks like such an amazing experience for the entire family! Our little guy is the same age as Samson and totally an outdoors man, he would be in his glory. In fact we have to divvy up the after dinner chores between the two of us to make sure he has sufficient amount of time outside before bed! Samson’s “proud face” is so adorable, as is Eleanor’s period correct clothing, your Mother has an amazing sewing talent!

    I’ll have to look into planning a trip of our own now! (With the addition of a few cars, trucks, and trains as well. Don’t get between a little boy and his toys!)

  11. Jona

    Samson’s proud face = the cutest thing ever!

  12. This is gorgeous! I live and work on a native reserve in northern Canada, where the native Cree people still live somewhat traditionally, and it’s really cool to see a lot of the similarities between our life up north and these photos. xo

  13. Olya

    oh, this is so amazing! great experience and such an easy, relaxed education. my twins are just 10 months old now, but I already can’t wait to do smth like this – just have fun all together ;)


  14. Samson’s proud face is beyond adorable! What a fun memory making trip for you and your family!

  15. Bird

    Wow, wow and wow… this trip is one of my biggest dreams.. I read so much on native amaericans around these years and there actually are weekends like this.. I didm´t know but I will check it all out… thank you so much for these post ;-)

    Love from Germany and the fatcatconnection


  16. nanette

    these photos were amazing! looks like a fun event. and those blankets! i wish i could have taken some home too! so beautiful!

  17. You have the cutest family!! By the way, my eyes also disappear when I smile. And when I laugh a lot I just can’t walk because I can’t see! XD

  18. It looks like so much fun! It reminds me of some of the scout camps I have been to over the years – fun and outdoor and simplicity at its best!

    // Kristina

  19. brittany

    gosh!! these have been some of my favorite posts and photos of your family every time you have gone!! i love love love all the period clothing and activities! what a great experience for you to have grown up with, and now your babies! and your mom! i mean whaaat a wonderwoman, the way she must be able to sew up a storm! love this. and you could not be cuter with your little bump and fam. xoxo.

  20. Amy

    That turtle she’ll purse – cool! And the photos of your kids running to your sister are adorable. What a funny family tradition – looks fun!

  21. Susan

    Beautiful pictures!

  22. NGOC LAN

    That’s awesome. You must have great time together. Looking at these beautiful photos remind me of the past. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  23. Susan

    That was so great to read about your weekend, Very interesting. We don’t have anything like that in Australia that I am aware of. Always love to read your blog.

  24. Lauren

    Growing up in North Dakota we used to do covered wagon trips! We’d spend a week out in the prairie dressed as pioneers walking all day along the wagon and eating fry bread at night. (to clarify, it was a big gathering like this, not just my weird family wandering around the prairie!) This made me miss that SO much! And seeing E and Samson cuddled up with your siblings made me miss home. Thank you for sharing this family tradition and reminding us all how much fun it can be to disconnect from this modern world a bit!

  25. Maja

    This looks like soo much fun!


  26. Maddie

    What a great thing for families to do together. Thanks for sharing! I hope to take my future family to something like this some day. It’s so special to get outside together and appreciate other cultures, and feel grateful for the conveniences that you get used to every day! Thanks for sharing your family with us.

  27. vicky

    i love love love this post!! this seems like so much fun. i’ve always loved your pictures. they tell so many great stories. i like that your whole family still gets together to do this. it gets everyone together for a weekend, sans phones/social media/emails, and allows great fellowship! that’s something important to me and my family. great post!

  28. Ashley

    Man their little costumes are UNBELIEVABLY adorable!! But what’s even cuter is how much they obviously love their aunts! I’m going to be an aunt in 6 months and I am just so over-the-moon-excited to spoil that child rotten–it’s exciting to see kids love them just as much too!
    That place looks like so much fun! Maybe I’ll make the trip one day :)

  29. Jess

    Wow, this is such a cool family tradition! I really enjoyed learning about the Rendezvous, I’d never heard of it before! :D

  30. April

    This looks like a blast! And even better that you were able to have so much family time together :)

    I spy some Hudson Bay items. How did you get your hands on those in the US?? I’m dying to find some as they don’t ship here!

  31. megan

    The food looks delicious especially the smores!! I can’t wait to try the chicken and rice dish;)

  32. Rose J.

    Awesome time, and cool pics! One of these days when we visit Utah during the summer I gotta check out ft. Bridger before school starts! Rachel is in good hands with the ward here in Jersey, but I’m sure she misses her family…and you!

  33. Giselle

    I looooove this! I don’t think it is insensitive at all. That kids trade looks adorable and the photo of you and samson sleeping is the cutest ever!

  34. Abi

    Lovely photos and it sounds like you did so much and had lots of fun too! Abi :)

  35. Alyssa

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this. What an amazing experience. Also, your photo of E throwing the corn is insane – what type of lens do you use to get such great action shots? What camera do you use in general? I have a Canon Rebel T3 and I am interested in upgrading to a better lens, any suggestions?

    • TAZA

      thanks! josh took that picture using our canon 6D and the kit lens. i think the canon rebels are awesome cameras though, i have used one for years.

  36. Taylor

    Every year that you post pictures of these awesome festivities, I’m so jealous! I’d love the chance to go one year as it looks like so much fun! My family & I have always been big fans of stuff like this. If you’re ever around the Detroit area, your family would LOVE Greenfield Village which is like an outdoor museum that replicates what life was like back in late 1800’s & early 1900’s. It’s a blast!


  37. these photos are lovely, looks like the best time!

  38. every single picture is absolutely beautiful. such a lovely post! i can’t get over how adorable your little ones are! looks like a wonderful time for your family

  39. Chelsea

    I love your fort bridger post, and these photos are exceptional! Everything looks so beautiful and I honestly don’t know how you do it, so gorgeous pregnant. I just never did quite carry it off the way you do. Actually I found your blog a couple years ago while I was pregnant and sick, and these were some of the first post I ever read, sucked me right in, and have been a big fan every sense.


  40. marie

    How I wish I could experience this with my family too! It looks so fun and so different from the normal daily routine life. Btw my son loves his toy cars too, there’s no way we cannot bring out some when we’re away. Haha. The photo of your kids running to your sister is so sweet. :)


  41. Debbie

    These pictures are awesome!! Fantastic themed weekend!! I enjoyed so much through ur picture, I imagine if I were there!!


  42. Drooling over those blankets!

  43. Janis

    What a fun and interesting way to learn about history! :) And the camping is extra fun!

  44. Tamara

    Aww I love that you did this with your family! It looks like such a fun experience that your kids will always remember :).


  45. Candice B

    One of your best posts ever! I truly enjoyed scrolling through these and seeing those faces of pure joy on your babies’ faces! So important for us to take some time out of the everyday to do incredible things like this- thanks for sharing!

  46. Briseidy

    sounds like an amazing experience! great photos, looks like so much fun!

  47. cheyenne

    that looks like such an awesome weekend :D
    xo, cheyenne

  48. Rachel

    Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Seriously you have the most fun and beautiful family. What a cool tradition!

  49. jacob

    how fun!

  50. Lotta

    What a fun and interesting post! It sure looked like you had a great time! In Sweden we have a similar things but with Vikings in a viking resorts. It is so much fun to go there!

  51. Nathalie

    So many beautiful pictures! I’ve only visited Seattle on the west coast but this is Sweet, I’m obsessed with all the colors and the smiles!

  52. Sara Covey

    I’m obsessed with this post! Amazing pictures and such fun outfits!

    sara covey

  53. Wyatte S.

    Just when I thought your kiddos couldn’t get any cuter…

    This seriously looks like so much fun! I’m glad I saw this post because I think this would totally be something my husband would love to do next year. It’s seriously so great to remember history like this. Love all your photos!

  54. Gia

    Such gorgeous images!! And your mama seriously knocked it out of the park with all the clothes this year – they are amazing!!

  55. Teresa

    what a fun event to be a part of! i’ve never attended anything like it but it looks like it would be so much fun… specially the fire pits and cool weather at nights with the kiddos!

  56. Crystal

    Wow!! so many great photos of your weekend – there are some really beautiful shots. This sounds like such an awesome family tradition, and it is really cool that you guys have kept up with it even as your family grew and expanded. My little boy would love something like that! I think the children’s trading is fantastic!!

  57. Kelly

    This looks like such an amazing experience, especially with the period clothing, but I completely understand the hotel!

  58. Paula

    This post made me all teary for some reason…maybe its pregnancy hormones and the fact that we are expanding our family and i want to create wonderful traditions with them. The pictures are beautiful by the way and the kids looked like they were having such a good time – so precious.
    P xo

  59. Melany

    This pictures just make me smile! What a special experience to have with your own little family together with your siblings and parents. And all the food looks so good, I’d go just for that!

  60. Sharine

    Hi there, I just ordered the baseball tee and I love it! Thank you for being such a source of inspiration for me, I love your blog and your NYC guide was very useful for my husband and me last month during our US-trip.
    (I even bought one of those lovely pretzel shirts in SoHo for our doughter Emilia, she looks so cute in it). Greetings from Nuremberg, Bavaria, Sharine

  61. Brittni

    How great that you’re able to share traditions you’ve done with your family with your kids! It’s so sweet to see you’re passing those things along and continuing to make (and capture) such great memories.


  62. ika

    your mom is amazing!

  63. Rachael

    Your kids get me every time. They are SO adorable! Seriously I find myself smiling as I look through the pictures.

    I went to something similar over in PA called “the pennsic war”…what a blast! Medieval garb, craft, food, and dance classes, plus the night time drumming. It’s magical to let go of the electronics to go back in time!

  64. Tara

    This looks like so much fun. I love all your outfits and that turtle shell purse?! So cute. Have a great weekend!
    Love, Bess

  65. Lindsay

    This is so cool!! It looks like you all had a great time ;)

  66. The photo of Samson’s proud face, and the first one of him sat on his aunts shoulders, he looks SO much like you! Like he seems to already but is seriously your double in those! Such a cute family, and this seems like it would be such fun!

  67. DeeDee

    Looks like a great time. I was obsessed with that time period as a young girl. The kids look so cute in their clothes – and Samson looks like a little dude suddenly!

  68. Oh man! Looks like a blast. These pictures are wonderful! Your family is so darling.

  69. Alina

    You have a beautiful family!

  70. Mariana

    E looks so much like your brother! Amazing how big they are now :)

  71. Bea

    Ooooh!I really like you at fort bridger!!!
    You look so good with your growing bump! :)

  72. Mo

    Wow -thats my dream… Looks amazing!!
    Really makes me wanna visit it… maybe one day if/when I’ll go to the USA.
    I had to see NY and now this.

  73. Jennifer

    Hi there, your blog is awesome. I enjoy reading and looking at your awesome pics. Having a 22 month old daughter I am always notice how cute you dress your little ones. I was thinking about purchasing the moccasins your son had on in your last post..but are they safe to walk around in? I was unsure if they can be worn outside.

  74. hanna

    It looks like so much fun! Your kids look adorable –Hanna Lei

  75. Becky H.

    I think it is soooo amazing that your family gets together to do this each year! I remember reading one of your old posts about Bridger and thinking, “How awesome is that?!”
    And I still feel the same way.
    The fact that your mom makes all the clothing– incredible! Such skills!
    AND, you look adorable in that leather outfit, sporting your baby bump!
    This post warmed my heart.
    Not very many families would be willing to do this…
    It’s beautiful that yours is.


  76. I love your family traditions. And those kids. The one where Hannah is holding Samson (and he’s giving side-eye) and the two where they’re running to Bekah made my heart swell a little bit.

  77. alexandria

    I love that you and your family have a tradition like this. We have one where we camp at the same campground every fall and the leaves and surroundings are just breathtaking. It’s lovely to just take a weekend and regroup with family. Good times are sure to be had!
    I can’t wait for when I have a little family myself and can make traditions my kids will remember.

    Thanks for sharing!

  78. awesome pictorial of this vaca!! and can we talk about how gorgeous your hair and highlights are?? just beautiful!!

  79. Octavia

    Wow! Looks like such a blast. How fun. The colors in these pictures are perfect! :)

  80. Lauren

    Wow!! What an amazing experience! I had no idea such a thing even existed! How many days did you stay for? That all looks like so much fun thanks so much for sharing!

  81. how fun is this!!!

    xoxo, kerri

  82. Claire from Switzerland

    Love, love, love the turtle purse ^_^
    I love this holidays concept with kids, unfortunately we don’t have it in Switzerland and France…
    Kids seem so so happy!

  83. Anne

    this is the coolest tradition! I remember seeing your posts of it in the past, and now seeing the games for the littles I think it looks even cooler! thanks for sharing! Jealous you got some of those blankets, they look amazing!

  84. Sarah

    This looks like such a fun time. I love all of your outfits. The kids…too cute!

  85. Charis

    Oh my this just looks like the most amazing time ever!

  86. Kymberly Martin

    Wow, I now feel honored instead of inconvenienced by the mountain man rendezvous in Fort Bridger. Thank you for a fresh look at our annual event. I live in Fort Bridger and have actually locked my home and property up and fled the area a few days before the festivities begin Labor Day weekend! I grew up here and in my youth could hardly wait for the rendezvous to come around again. I’ve become blind and crotchety to all the fun. Next year I will open my eyes, see the vendors and visitors with a new appreciation for what we have right on our doorstep. All these years I have wasted this fantastic opportunity to build a tradition with my own family. It’s not too late to begin one with my small grandchildren, thinking about this, imagining the sparkle and fun dancing in their eyes, I now can hardly wait for rendezvous to come around again! Thank you Taza from the bottom of my heart. Now, where have I stashed my moccasins……

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