The first Mountain Man Rendezvous was at Henry's Fork on the Green River in 1825. The location of the rendezvous changed every year, and it quickly became the best-known social and business institution of the American mountain men. A rendezvous was the social, economical, and alcoholic highlight of many North American mountain men in the early 1800s. These men led lonely harsh lives the rest of the year, harvesting beaver for the beaver hats so popular in Europe at that time. Many of them became friendly with Indian tribes, and some took Indian wives. For most of them, however, the only contact they had with white society was at the annual rendezvous, where merchants from St. Louis would meet the trappers and exchange goods for pelts. The trappers needed traps, salt, sugar, tobacco, lead and liquor. The Indians were invited as well to trade for knives, guns and blankets. The resulting gathering was a wild party that included drinking, gambling, fighting, races and shooting contests, trading and general mayhem. The rendezvous could last for up to a month if the liquor held out. After the rendezvous was over, the mountain men headed back to the mountains to trap more beaver for the next year. By the 1840s due to beaver hats becoming unfashionable in Europe, the mountain men moved on to other livelihoods, such as guiding settlers and explorers, hunting buffalo, and serving as military scouts, so the great rendezvous became a thing of the past.
Modern day black powder or muzzle loading rifle enthusiasts hold many a rendezvous around North America. Here many of the participants compete in shooting and tomahawk throwing contests. Most competitors wear buckskin clothing, and many of the women are dressed in early American type dress. Indian attire is also common. Trading is a central part of these gatherings, and wonderful crafts, books, weapons, leather goods and other items can be found. Camping is usually available at the site and both expensive motor homes and teepees can be found. Nighttime is usually centered around a feast of some kind of meat such as elk, buffalo, or deer, and the communal chili pot is always going. Songs, dancing, storytelling and a great deal of liquor consumption is also featured. The modern rendezvous is a lot of fun, and very educational as well, as many of the participants are eager to share their knowledge.