6/4/22 Heading west in Wyoming from South Dakota, I drove several hours through wide open high prairie towards the Bighorn Mountains peering out on the horizon like distant blue sapphires. Buttes and Mesas rise from the grassland like cities of stone. Some ranchers put cool wrought iron work on top of the mesas that appear as though a cowboy or a lone buffalo is watching over the valleys.
In need of gas and a bottle of water, I stopped in historic Buffalo Wyoming. My original plan had been to drive north towards Sheridan and Ranchester and then take Highway 14 through Shell Canyon into the heart of the Bighorns.
However my detour to Spearfish pushed me back a few hours (definitely worth it), so I settled on the equally scenic route through The Bighorns – taking Highway 16 from Buffalo to Cody on the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway.
While I didn’t have a ton of time to sightsee this trip, Buffalo is one of my favorite western destinations. If you are looking for old west history and the ambiance of a John Wayne movie – you’ll find it in historic Buffalo. In fact the ‘western’ finds its origins in Buffalo.
Originating from an army post that protect the Bozeman Trail (read more about the Bozeman Trail here), Buffalo is infamous for the Johnson County War between cattle barons and members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. Read more here.
Buffalo’s famed Occidental Hotel, which played host to famed guests like Teddy Roosevelt, inspired author Owen Wister to write his western literary classic, The Virginian.
Today you can step back in time, staying at The Occiental and grabbing drinks at one of the favorite cowboy watering holes.
Buffalo is a gateway to The Bighorn Mountains and surrounding recreation. It’s location, halfway between Yellowstone and the Black Hills makes it the perfect stop on your western road trip.
With my gas tank full, I headed west bound for Cody on the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway.
Glancing at the dash, I noticed the time 4:15 p.m. It would be another few hours to Cody. So many miles of scenery left before my final destination.
Stay tuned as we wind through The Bighorns.