Last Monday we left Casper mid-morning and had a pleasant drive of 100 miles up I-25 to the small town of Buffalo (pop. 4,600). The drive north was mainly through rolling hills of grassland as the Bighorn Mountains slowly came into view in the northwest.
Once in Buffalo we quickly set up in a site at Deer Park RV and Campground. Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road) stayed here during an extended visit to Buffalo last year so we followed their recommendation. While not the nicest site we have experienced, our spot does have its advantages. We are in the back section of the park which is reserved for long term stays, so there is little traffic and the site is very quiet. Looking out our driver side windows we have a great view of a large pasture where six horses graze. They share the pasture with a number of deer and pronghorns. I-90 is on the other side of the field but far enough away that we can’t hear it.
Animals must communicate with each other through some long distance system. We believe this because somehow the horses knew that the treat lady was in town. As soon as she went near the fence they lined up and came over to visit.
One even stayed around for some good conversation. The treat lady desperately wanted to give them something to eat (carrot maybe?) but someone with more experience with horses than us (thanks, Sue!) said not to feed them without knowledge of any special dietary restrictions they may be under.
One of the first things we did was to check out the “downtown” area of Buffalo. Since there is no Wal-Mart nearby, Buffalo does still actually have an active downtown. The town is not named after the bison that happened to live in the region, but after the New York city that a random citizen had previously called home. The name was drawn out of a hat at the Occidental Hotel, according to local legend. Local history is highlighted on a number of colorful murals near the town center.
Along Main Street there are two sculptures that recognize one of the most famous historical events in the area’s past, the Johnson County War. The Johnson County War was a series of range conflicts that took place here between 1889 and 1893. The conflicts were between the large established ranchers and the smaller settlers in the area over ownership of cattle. The first sculpture is of a cowboy from one of the large ranches pulling his rifle out to shoot the guy in the adjacent sculpture.
The second sculpture depicts one of the small ranchers surprised while branding a calf.
One of the most significant buildings in town is the Occidental Hotel. The hotel has seen many famous guests over the years including Butch Cassidy, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Ernest Hemingway, and Buffalo Bill Cody. The building has been renovated to return it to the way it was in the early years of the 20th century.
The next day we drove west into the Bighorn Mountains on US-16. We were headed for a unmaintained dirt road leading to a hike recommended by a ranger at the local Forest Service office. As we headed out, the views of the snow covered Bighorns were impressive.
We didn’t make it to the trailhead, as we found a locked gate blocking the dirt road leading up into the mountains. We found a note on the map we purchased at the Forest Service office stating the road would be closed until the middle of June (wish the ranger had told us that!). With no “plan b” we just explored some of the numerous side roads nearby, driving through a couple of the many primitive campgrounds in the area.
Near one of the campgrounds we stretched our legs with a short hike up a four-wheel / snowmobile trail.
We’ll be in Buffalo for the next month, giving us plenty of time to explore the Bighorn Mountains. The nimble hiker has been busy planning a number of mountainous adventures thanks to Hans and Lisa.
More on that later . . .
Nice neighbors. I like when small historic towns tell their story and murals are a great way to do that. Looks like some gorgeous hiking country.
I must say, Gaelyn, these are some of the best neighbors we’ve had:) There does appear to be great hiking which is why we are here. Now we just need the roads to open and the snow to melt off in some areas:)
Im so glad you mentioned about not feeding the horses with carrots, thanks Sue 🙂 for I might be doing that when we are in WY someday.
I think i would love your site, the view and the animals will keep me entertained and camera happy.
That is quite a story of randomly picking a towns name, most of the time I thought a town is named after a historical figure. Thanks for the tour.
Yes, MonaLiza, you and your camera would be very busy here:)
You guys sure have been getting a lot of wildlife pictures lately! Love the picture of the Great Horned Owl!!!! We took a hike today that you guys would love. We hiked out of McCarthy to the Root Glacier, if you get to this area, it is a must do!
We certainly are, Jim and Barb! I am calling this my personal zoo:) Every day brings new friends calling. We will definitely check out the glacier if we get that way:)
Love that hotel, I would like to see that. We drove through Buffalo 2 years ago on our way to South Dakota. Mostly I remember the giant mountain pull getting there from the West. Our truck was acting wonky and it was a stressful, yet beautiful drive. The Bighorn Mountains are a place we want to explore for sure.
The hotel was a walk into the past. Nothing modern about it. You will most certainly have to stop one day:)
Oh, this is fun looking at your photos and reliving our time in Buffalo! I love how GREEN it is right now!
It is fun to look at photos from a place you once visited. Thanks to you two we have lots to see and do in this area:) It really is very green here. The rolling hills are just beautiful.
Very interesting. I visited Buffalo as a kid but didn’t know anything about its history. Love the photo of the owl!
Thanks, Diana! I was very excited about the owl. It took me three evening walks to find it. You’ll have to come back to Buffalo for another visit:)
Great photos of the horses and pronghorn. Looks like Buffalo WY is worthy of a stop!
Thanks, Ingrid:) We are happy with our decision to stop here. We’ll have lots to share as we move deeper into our month.
How great to be settled in a place for a month! Your neighbors look pretty wild, but in a good way. 🙂 We always love finding towns with a “real” downtown. The sculptures and murals are so cool—and so is the Occidental Hotel. New adventures ahead!
It is nice to stay in a location long enough to truly get the flavor of the area and have time for every day chores. We have a long list of adventures for our month stay:)
Did you realize that the State of Wyoming is named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania? 🙂
Thanks, Jim! We didn’t know that but you led us both to do a little more research and reading. What a neat coincidence for us:)
Looks like you are parked in a small zoo. So neat.
Now that is a unique way to name a city…just pull it out of a hat.
The murals are so nice.
I just love looking at old hotels. I could belly up to that bar.
Oh, Marsha, we are! I am having so much fun keeping track of all my friends:)
I enjoyed every single photo. The BigHorns are lovely! But thoses horses called out to me. Gorgeous creatures! Safe travels to you!
Thanks so much, Nancy:)
Buffalo is an area I know nothing about. I look forward to hearing more about the hiking opportunities.
There is a lot of hiking in the Bighorn Mountains which are right near by. But a few roads to some trails are closed because of the wildlife for another week and other trails have some deeper snow. But with our 90 degree temps, we should be out hiking real soon:)
Lewis must have sent out at Telagram-apama! I love this campground and hope we can get one of those back sites in August. Locked gates are our nemesis! Those old wooden bars are always so beautiful – I love it when they take the time to restore them.
Lewis must have sent word because the horses knew who I was:)
Ah, you’re now in my home state! I was born in Wyoming. I can’t wait to go back. Gee, I was two when we moved and I’ve never been back! Lol! What a great state and introduction! Can’t wait to learn more!
We’ll have lots to share, Debbie, with a month stay:) You will have to get back soon!
Reading your blog because we are headed to buffalo for a week tomorrow …What was the trail you were going to hike but couldn’t ? We are pretty avid hikers and looking for ideas
Sorry, Sue, I don’t remember what the hike was. Enjoy your stay.