This year my husband Brian and I decided to take a weeklong trip to the Bighorn Mountains and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Both are overlooked vacation destinations with a wide range of activities for the outdoors person. We went the first week of August since we were climbing Cloud Peak and looking for the best weather possible.
I’ll break this into four parts and provide tips, things we learned, and what things I wish I knew before going.
Part 1, Spend some time in the Wild West
The first part of our trip really begins when we arrived in Buffalo, WY a small town with a big history. Brian and I began by visiting the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum. This small museum just off the main strip offers a look into the collection of former Buffalo resident Jim Gatchell. His collection includes an enormous wolf pelt, remnants of the Johnson County Cattle Wars and Native American artifacts that had been gifted to Mr. Gatchell.
The entry is only $5 and well worth it. It’s a quant, hometown collection but they have built in some interactivity that kids are sure to love including a look into Mr. Gatchell’s drug store, complete with stories.
The Native American and Wild West history remind you just how wild this historic town once was. Cattle rustlers, sheep herders and numerous Native American tribes once roamed and battled for this rugged land.
While in Buffalo I wanted to experience the old west with a night at the Occidental Hotel. This property built in 1880 has housed President Theodore Roosevelt, Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid amongst other historical figures. The hotel includes it’s own museum, a restaurant and saloon complete with gun shot holes in the ceiling. The lobby looks like it’s from the turn of the century and a piano sits waiting for guests to have a seat and play.
I often find that with historic hotels the rooms are tiny and you pay a lot for that small space. Not at the Occidental. Our room had a spacious bathroom, sitting room and bedroom area.
The hotel restaurant, The Virginian had great food, service and seating. They recommend you make a reservation and when you do, request window seating. You’ll have a small private space to look out on the Main Street and have a romantic dinner with your significant other.
After dinner, headed on over to the Saloon. Ask about the bullet holes in the ceiling and the staff will be happy to point them out and tell you some stories. The saloon is filled with dark, massive pieces of woodwork and taxidermied wildlife on the walls like any good Wild West saloon would.
One other stop I recommend in Buffalo for a good drink is the Clear Creek Brewery. I enjoyed a Belgium Bastard and tips from the locals on what to expect on our mountain climb in the Bighorns National Forest.
For a good breakfast at a great deal, go right next door to the Occidental’s Busy Bee Cafe overlooking the creek. Great service.
Buffalo is a town filled with history and friendly folks. I highly recommend a stop when you go on your Bighorns adventure.