Learn about Buffalo, Wyoming by reading Buffalo,
Wyoming--Old West, Modern Comforts by Charlie Spence,
Aviation 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, Aviation Writer and IFA 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 Cattle War occurred in the 1890s, 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 Memorial Museum are
all listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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 Clear Creek.
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 your tour.
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
Cattle 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 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
How to Get There
The Johnson County Airport is just three miles northeast
of the city. Its asphalt runway is 6,158 feet. There is no
tower and no landing system. There are lights. Jet fuel and
100LL are available.
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 dining.
You can check rates and book your room and rental car at
IFA'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
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