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Western tourism stands at the heart of the American drama precisely because it occurs on the same stage as the national drama of self-affirmation. To Americans the West is their refuge… home to the mythic landscapes where Americans become whole again in the aftermath of personal or national cataclysm. This virtue and incredible burden makes tourism in the West more tantalizing, more fraught with tension and anxiety, and more full of text, subtext, and depth than anywhere else in the nation. The same activity in the West means more than elsewhere; the myth of exceptionalism has a life of its own as the Rockies rise in front of westward-bound travelers…

–Hal Rothman

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