Learn about Buffalo, Wyoming by reading Buffalo,
Wyoming--Old West, Modern Comforts by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer.
It features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all
you'll need to know to plan your trip including getting there, objective
information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the
end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact information
for your easy reference. Enjoy!
Buffalo, Wyoming—Old West, Modern Comforts
by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member
Lakes and mountains combine for breathtaking scenery in Buffalo.
Photo courtesy of the Buffalo, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce
One of the exciting elements of travel is to discover places
off the beaten track where there are interesting sights and events
not enjoyed by the ordinary vacationer, who time after time returns
to a favorite location. One such place to discover is Buffalo, Wyoming,
tucked between the rolling plains of the Old West and the towering
peaks of the Big Horn Mountains.
Buffalo is a place to visit any time of the year depending on
your likes and desires. There is skiing in the winter, rodeos in
the summer, horseback riding over forest trails with colorful leaves
in the autumn, and wildflower viewing in the late spring.
Buffalo is rich in the history of the Old West. Nearby, see the
"Hole in the Wall" where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid
out after their outlaw exploits. Buffalo is in Johnson County, where
sheep herders and cattle barons, renegades and rustlers were active.
It is the county where the Johnson County Range War occurred in
the 1880s, an event which many historians consider one of the most
notorious events in the history of the United States. At one of
the guest ranches, you can see the bullet holes in the barn that
were made during one skirmish in that war.
Taking in a rodeo is just one of the fascinating things to do in
Photo courtesy of the Buffalo, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce
The county has many ranches now where talented cowboys and cowgirls
show their skills in the rodeos that occur throughout the spring
and summer. They will also help you discover the way of ranch living
if you choose to seek the accommodations of a guest ranch. There
are about a half dozen guest ranches in the area where you can live
like a cowboy and pitch in on the chores.
Walk down Buffalo’s Main Street and you will see more than a
dozen historic buildings. One of the first spots is the Occidental
Hotel, made famous by Owen Wister in his novel "The Virginian."
This is where the Virginian "finally got his man." The hotel, the
Johnson County Courthouse, and the Carnegie Wing of the Jim Gatchell
Museum of the West are all listed in the National Register of Historic
Main Street developed from the trail that saw horses, wagons
and the first freight wagon trains, with their oxen teams, curve
down a slight hill, cross Clear Creek and climb the slight grade
on the other side. The town’s first buildings were constructed along
this portion of the trail. Clear Creek still bisects the town. The
bridge was once written up in Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not as the
only bridge in the world where a U-turn was legal. (That law has
since been changed.) If you feel like seeing nature’s beauty up
close, there is an eleven-mile walking trail that meanders alongside
Shops along the Main Street offer a variety of goods including
many with items reminiscent of the early days of the west. Drop
in to the old-fashioned "soda fountain" and get an ice cream treat
or maybe walk out with an ice cream cone to enjoy while continuing
While walking along Main Street, stop on the bridge, look down
and you will probably see trout swimming in the creek. And if this
makes you itch for a good fishing time, the lakes and streams in
the area offer what some have called the best fishing spots in the
west. You can strike out on your own to one of the streams, take
a rowboat on one of the lakes, or see one of the several outfitters
in the area who can show you the best fly-fishing spots. There are
more than 200 lakes in the nearby Big Horn Mountains, which are
also perfect for canoeing or kayaking.
Fishing is but one of the many activities available for people
who love the outdoors. Winter visitors may enjoy cross-country ski
trails, downhill skiing, or snowmobiling. Nordic skiers or snowshoers
can venture over other areas.
The hillsides are ablaze with color during the summer. Photo courtesy
of the Buffalo, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce
If you love wildlife, by all means bring your camera. You may
be able to capture sightings of elk, deer, and moose, as this area
is their summer feeding grounds. Trails in the area offer spectacular
scenery, which can be taken in through short hikes, backpacking
or even horseback riding.
The area around Buffalo was the site of much of what we think
of as the Old West and the struggles those pioneers faced. You will
want to visit some of the sites to soak up feelings of the frontier
days. More than the Johnson County Range War happened here. Some
of the most famous Indian battles in American history occurred here
and you can visit the sites and also see some of the pre-historic
cave paintings by Native Americans.
Just a short drive out of town, visit the Fort Phil Kearny State
Historic Site. This former fort of the Old West holds much historic
lore. Let the surroundings at the fort take you to the days of winning
the west. Another place to visit just a short drive away is the
monument that marks the spot of the Fetterman Massacre, where Captain
W. J. Fetterman and his company disobeyed orders not to engage the
Sioux and were lured into a trap where they were massacred by 2,000
warriors in 1866. So, too, is the Wagon Box Fight site monument,
which commemorates the 1867 engagement, during Red Cloud's War between
the U.S. Army and Lakota (Sioux) Native Americans. Just east of
Buffalo is a nature trail that will take you back about 60 million
years—the Petrified Tree Forest.
Okay, so you want a break from soaking up western ranch living,
historic places where the west was won and unbelievable beauty of
nature, then take in some of the other pleasure spots of the Buffalo
area. There’s a fine 18-hole golf course, where you will find its
many changes in elevations make it challenging for all levels of
players. For yourself or the youngsters, there is Bozeman Trail
Crossing with an old fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, putt-putt
golf, ice cream parlor and family fun.
Here is a place where you can combine a tour of some of nature’s
best and most alluring beauty with the fascination and fun of checking
out how life was in winning the Old West.
How to Get There
Buffalo is about half way between Yosemite and Yellowstone National
Parks, an excellent place to stop and stretch your legs if you are
driving. Interstate highways I-29 and I-90 cross just outside of
town. Sheridan, Wyoming, is the nearest city with commercial air
service. It is 33 miles from Buffalo.
Where to Stay and Dine
You have a fine choice of places to stay and dine in the Buffalo
area. There are more than a dozen motels, B&Bs, hotel and ranches.
Also, there are two nearby mountain resorts. Facilities at the ranches
range from cabins to rooms and from cowboy living to spas and fine
You can check rates and book your room and rental car at
WTA’s Online Travel Booking Service
. Significant discounts may apply.
Speaking of dining, you will find choices from fast food to excellent
restaurants. One place be sure to enjoy is the Virginian Restaurant
in the Occidental Hotel, named, naturally, for the novel. For hearty
eating, order up the western beef and the bison steaks at any one
of many restaurants.
Notice: This information is current as of
July 2008. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or
visit the websites above to determine any changes to the information.