Gateway to the Bighorns
Article Date: March, 2015
A Town in the Right Place
Every now and then you find one of those spots that just happens to be located in the right place. Buffalo, Wyoming is one of
those spots. Located where I-25 meets up with I-90 it's smack dab in the middle of two well traveled routes. It's also nestled at the foot of the
Bighorn Mountains and offers the only really good route across them for an RV. Buffalo is also the center of a ton of western lore. The Johnson County
cattle wars were centered in this area. The Bozeman Trail passes right through town and numerous clashes between the Sioux Indians and the many
cavalry forts placed along the trail took place in this area. The downtown is a national historical area and was frequented by many outlaws, including
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who were based out of the nearby Hole in the Wall area.
Buffalo is particularly suited as an RV destination. A number of excellent campgrounds can be found in Buffalo and the US Forest
Service primitive campgrounds in the Bighorn Mountains are also available for those who prefer to rough it and get back to nature. The local residents
are genuinely friendly and you'll feel right at home walking the streets and visiting the shops and eating establishments. RV related services abound
and the Cenex station on the edge of town is very big rig friendly so you'll have no problem maneuvering your 80' Bus conversion with dual tandem
trailers to the diesel pumps. A scenic walking trail follows the river from the Bozeman Trail marker to the downtown area which is a great place to take
your dog for a walk. We found that Buffalo was very pet friendly and our German Shepherd was invited into the downtown visitors center, where they even
fed him a treat and gave him a bowl of fresh, cool water.
The Occidental Hotel looks just like it did back in the 1880s when famous people such as Butch Cassidy, the Sundance kid, Calamity Jane, and
Buffalo Bill Cody stayed there.
One particular place of interest is the Occidental Hotel. Walking into the front door of the Occidental is like stepping through
a time portal into the past. It looks just like it did back in the 1880s when famous people such as Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Calamity Jane, and
Buffalo Bill Cody stayed there. The lobby is a true museum and photos of days long past adorn the hallways and the old barber shop. It's still open for
business and you can choose from any number of restored rooms for your stay. In fact, Owen Wister wrote portions of "The Virginian" while staying at the
Occidental and his suite is one of those available.
One big draw is the historical Occidental Saloon. If you look up you'll still find 23 bullet holes in the copper clad ceiling.
In the old days shootings were common and sometimes poker games would last for days. You can still order your favorite beverage at the 25' long oak bar
but the clientele has tamed down a bit so you probably won't have to watch out for flying lead any more.
The 25-foot oak bar at the Occidental still serves guests today and rests beneath a bullet-riddled ceiling from a more violent era.
One thing we always do when stopping in Buffalo is eat dinner in the Occidental's restaurant, which is named "The Virginian".
Their chef has previously managed 5 star restaurants and the menu is excellent to say the least. However, this is Wyoming so you really need to try the
beef or bison. If you are lucky enough to be there on a Friday or Saturday night be sure to try the Cattleman's Cut of Prime Rib. That mouth watering
delicacy will give you a whole new appreciation for Wyoming beef.
The Jim Gatchell Museum is one of the best museums covering western history that you'll find anywhere. Its extensive collections
range from the early days, through the Indian wars, settlement of the area, geology, and even include parts of a World War II B-17 bomber that crashed in
the nearby mountains. An extensive collection of firearms, wagons, and Indian artifacts is present.
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