On your way to Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance, stop in the towns of Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyo., for a dose of Western history and culture. Here are six reasons to visit.
1. Explore a Canyon
Half an hour south of Buffalo, bring your high-clearance vehicle to explore Crazy Woman Canyon. This stunning scenic drive is a dirt road through a canyon full of towering cliffs that follows Crazy Woman Creek. Allow at least two hours for a leisurely tour and longer if you plan to picnic or fish the creek’s waters. If you’re not traveling in a high-clearance vehicle, rent an ATV or side-by-side from Ultimate Outdoors in Buffalo.
2. Learn About the Cattle War
Buffalo was home to the infamous 1892 Johnson County War. Learn more about this fascinating conflict between the cattle barons of southern Wyoming and small cattle operators in Buffalo at the Hoofprints of the Past Museum in Kaycee. Then, head north on Old Hwy. 87 towards Buffalo and visit the TA Guest Ranch, the site of the war’s final battle. Stop in for dinner at The Cookhouse every night except Sunday, and enjoy a farm-to-table meal. Afterwards, you can see the bullet holes from the battle in the barn’s walls.
3. Explore the Trails on Horseback
If you want to experience the beauty of the Bighorn Mountains, there’s no better way to do so than on a guided horseback ride. Book a trip with Black Tooth Excursions for a two, four or six-hour ride, or stay at the TA Guest Ranch where you can go for a trail ride or attend the offered horsemanship and team penning demos.
4. Spend an Evening at the Historic Occidental Hotel
Pronounced “ox-i-den-tal,” this stunning hotel was once a stagecoach stop. Book a room or suite to experience one of its themed, historic rooms. But even if you aren’t staying the night, spending an evening here is a must. Grab a drink in the elegant 1908 saloon, complete with a 25-foot bar and real bullet holes in the ceiling. Then, enjoy fine dining in the Virginian Restaurant where buffalo steaks are the specialty. Locals swing by on Thursday nights for the 7 p.m. jam sessions, organized by the hotel’s musician proprietors. During the summer, you’ll find live music most nights of the week.
5. Sample Local Favorites
Start the day off with a coffee and an incredible cinnamon roll from Lolly’s Sugar Shack located right next to the Occidental Hotel. When it’s time for lunch, head to Sagewood Café, a soup and sandwich spot that features homemade bread and a kitchen-themed gift shop. “If she ever retires,” locals say of the owner, “we’re in deep trouble.”
6. Celebrate Sheep
In addition to its rich history, Johnson County is known for its sheep industry. Take a tour of local wool manufacturer, Mountain Meadow Wool, and learn how the wool gets processed from start to finish. Each June, Buffalo holds the Sheep Fest. You’ll find vendors selling wool goods, sheep dog trials, sheep shearing and homemade Basque food and music. Check out johnsoncountywyevents.com for other events throughout the year like the winter Ski Jor Wars.
Learn more at johnsoncountywy.com.