Just Hanging Out in Buffalo

Buffalo, WY

We plan to do some hikes up in the nearby Bighorn Mountains but are waiting a bit for some of the snow to melt.  With the warm temperatures the area has been experiencing, that shouldn’t take very long.  So during the past week we have been staying close to Buffalo while doing some short treks in the area around town.  Buffalo has a nice trail system called Clear Creek Trail System.  Two small sections of it are located just south of our RV park, so one day we set out on foot from the motorhome to explore them.  We turned left on the main road in front of the park, walked about a quarter mile, then turned right and set out on Stockyard Road.

Stockyard Road

This area was once the end of the line for a railroad that ran north to the town of Clearmont, where it joined a main east-west line.  But the railroad shut down many years ago and all evidence of it has disappeared.  During the railroad’s time of existence there was a stockyard nearby but there are no stockyards on this road today.  Now there is a nice trail there that runs along Clear Creek for a bit before turning and going around a large pond.

Clear Creek

Ducks on the pond

Red Winged Black Bird

Across the road from the pond there is a loop that goes up a hill and around a recreation of a late 1800s prairie house.  The loop is right on the original path of the Bozeman Trail.

On Thursday we drove north about 35 miles to check out the Third Thursday Celebration in downtown Sheridan.  On the third Thursday of each summer month the main street through the downtown is blocked for about a half mile and the street is filled with booths operated by local businesses.  Of course, what is a celebration in Wyoming without a cowboy band?

About ten miles west of Buffalo is a section of land called the Dry Creek Petrified Education Area.  One afternoon we drove out to hike the .8 mile loop trail.

This area is filled with a rock called clinker, known locally as scoria.  It is a natural brick formed from shale or sandstone that has been fired when coal seams caught on fire and burned back into the ground.


The loop trail has eight stations, each with a display that describes natural objects in that area.


The petrified stumps are the remains of vegetation that covered this area 60 million years ago.  Back then huge swamps filled the wide, flat plain between the Bighorn mountains and the Black Hills.  Giant Trees grew in a marshy area somewhat like the swamps of southeastern Georgia.

Most of the stumps are just barely sticking out of the ground.  But one has been excavated a bit to allow us to see more of it.

Looking out over the grassy plains of today it is hard to imagine a tree covered swamp filled with birds, fish, and reptiles.

Prickly pear cacti were in bloom all along the trail

This place must not be a big tourist draw as we were the only people there.

Heading back to the crowded parking area

Forces of erosion at work

Our last activity of the week was a hike on another section of the Clear Creek Trail System.  The William J. Mentock Trail is a 3.5 mile trail that follows Clear Creek on the west side of Buffalo to the base of the Bighorn Mountains.

The trail goes right by the old town power generating plant.  The building is now used as a canvas for aspiring young artists with spray cans.

The snow appears to be rapidly disappearing in the mountains so we are looking for some hikes up in the cooler elevations this week.  More on that later . . .

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26 Responses to Just Hanging Out in Buffalo

  1. explorvistas says:

    The power generating plant looks a bit like an abandoned lighthouse. For a minute, I thought you were doing a little urban exploring in my old home town of Detroit! 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    I enjoyed seeing the areas that the petrified educators explored this day. They have a well documented knack for discovering lesser known clinkers.

  3. rommel says:

    The spray painted establishment reminds me of Murphy Ranch in Malibu. I love walking on trails with water flowing on the side. Makes hiking even better and oftentimes reflective.

  4. Gay says:

    It’s so pretty there…the photo of the grassy plains is awesome! You always seem to find interesting places to explore. I would so enjoy the Clear Creek Trails.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Gay:) We can’t take credit for finding this nice little area. Hans and Lisa were here last year and turned us on to all there is here. So glad they visited first and gave us a great monthly plan of activities:)

  5. montanaclarks says:

    One early October we spent a night in a Buffalo campground enjoying a freak snowstorm and frigid below zero temps! We had been to Iowa for quilting machine classes. On the way home from Buffalo, our previous motorhome died alongside the freeway and we had to be towed. Arriving home we had TWO FEET of snow and five degrees!!!, and remember this is October 5th!! That storm killed many of my shrubs and we had no fall that year as the frigid temps caused the leaves still on the trees to turn black and fall off. Thought this story might cool you off! :))

  6. Mary says:

    Looks like a great place to explore. Lots of interesting things to see, fun stuff to do. Perfect.

  7. It’s fascinating to imagine a completely different landscape in times past! There must be many more of those petrified trees buried out of sight.

    We loved the Mentock section of the trail, it was nice having that so close to town.

    • placestheygo says:

      It was so hard to stand in the Petrified Tree area and imagine tall trees and water. I agree that there are probably lots of buried trees yet to be exposed. Glad some showed their faces:)

      You had mentioned a tree covered section fo the trail. I’m glad we finally found it. This was more of a real trail with the rocky path. Great fun:)

  8. Laurel says:

    I know you guys are chomping at the bit to get up into the mountains—but it’s fun to see how you’re keeping yourselves busy while you wait. Love towns with a trail system! The Third Thursday Celebration looks like fun, too. Was the cowboy band any good?

    • placestheygo says:

      We finally got to hike in the mountains yesterday. Since it was going to be 98 down here, we decided this was the time to gain elevation. It was about 15 degrees cooler and the trail was in the woods so it was much cooler. The band wasn’t bad. We stood and listened for awhile.

  9. pmbweaver says:

    We have friends that just arrived in the Big Horn Mountains. They have never been there before. They are so excited to see the area. Unfortunately, they do not hike. But, they do own a bike and ride all over. I told them to look at your blog. You two do such a great job of being a tour guide for the area.
    Even though your “hike” isn’t the hike you are used to, it was gorgeous. I love that photo of you by the water Pam. So pretty.

  10. The Clear Creek really looks clear compared to what we saw in Utah 🙂 I appreciate trails that have stations or plaques describing what we are looking at.
    I usually can not imagine how a green mountains used to be a swamp.
    Less crowd or no crowd in beautiful setting always sets the mood for solitude. Although my hiking boots now are full of dusts 😦 Im really jealous.

    • placestheygo says:

      The Clear Creek is beautiful and crystal clear everywhere we see it. We have enjoyed the lack of crowds and traffic here in Buffalo. Your boots will get all dusted off real soon:)

  11. geogypsy2u says:

    Especially nice to have trails so close to the RV park. Bet you’ll be ready for some cool mountain air soon. After a hot visit to Kanab this week I was anxious to return to the cool Kaibab. The scoria and petrified stumps are great. I love imagining an ancient landscape. Too bad about the art work on the old pump house.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thank goodness for the elevation gain and temperature drop in the mountains with the high temps here in Buffalo. The old pump house really got hit by graffiti artist.

  12. Jodee Gravel says:

    Love finding a short trail with good signage – fascinating to learn what an area looked like eons ago and be standing where you’re reading about! The Scoria is very cool, I love all its colors. The pictoglyphs in the power plant are well done although I’m unclear about what it tells us of the people……:-) The Third Thursday looks fun, hope it’s still going on when we get back there.

    • placestheygo says:

      The three of you would enjoy the Petrified Tree trail. It is only .75 of a mile. The Clear Creek Trail is 17 miles long but there are several places to join it along the way which is great. You’ll have to give the Mentock section a try:) The Third Thursday goes on all summer, so if you are here for July’s third Thursday make sure you drive up.

  13. Sherry says:

    Amazing how many interesting things you found around Buffalo. Clear Creek is beautiful. I’ll bet that water was really cold. It is hard to imagine the areas with petrified wood were once swamps. I’d love to follow in someone’s footsteps with a plan of what to see. Lucky you.

    • placestheygo says:

      With all we saw there was do in Buffalo and the surrounding area from Hans and Lisa, we knew we would enjoy a month here, also. Yes, we were very lucky to have someone preplan our visit:)

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