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Buffalo Wyoming

Gateway to the Bighorns
Article Date: March, 2015


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North on the Bozeman Trail

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A stone tower and plaque mark the spot of the Fetterman Massacre. An interpretive walk through the battlefield details the action that wiped out Captain Fetterman's 80 man command.

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Ruts left by a large number of wagons over the years still mark the Bozeman Trail in various locations today.

Heading north on I-90 gives you numerous access points to the Bozeman Trail. The Bozeman Trail was mainly used by miners traveling north to the gold fields in Montana. Because it passed through the heart of the Sioux Indian nation, a number of forts were built along the trail to protect the travelers and settlers in the area. Of course this didn't sit well with the Sioux and a number of skirmishes took place in the area. A few miles north of Buffalo is Fort Phil Kearney, which is open for visits by tourists. A number of wood cutting expeditions were sent out from the fort to cut timbers to expand and supply the fort, which resulted in clashes with Indians. Sites such as the Wagon Box Fight and the Fetterman Massacre are well preserved. The Fetterman site is particularly interesting. In 1866 Captain Fetterman ignored orders and ventured out of site of the fort with 80 men. Red Cloud baited him into chasing a small party of Sioux into a valley where an ambush party of more Indians waited. All of the men in Captain Fetterman's command were killed. Interpretive markers are place along the walking trail through the battlefield. Both of these sites can easily be accessed by passenger car from the Story exit.

Continuing further north will take you into Sheridan. Just north of Sheridan you can take US-14 up into the mountains. A popular four wheel drive road is the Red Grade Road, which leaves I-90 just south of Sheridan and takes you up into the true backcountry of the mountains. You'll pass cascading streams and even a hidden mountain top reservoir created to catch snow melt. Eventually this scenic drive connects with US-14 near Burgess Junction. West of Burgess Junction is the Medicine Wheel site. This location is considered sacred by the Sioux who used it for ceremonies and vision quests. The wheel consists of rocks placed in a large circle with 28 spokes radiating out from a center point. The spokes line up with sun rise or sunset locations at the summer solstice and other key times in the lunar calendar. The site is a 1.5 mile walk from the parking area but handicapped visitors are allowed to drive right to the site.

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The many streams and hiking trails along Red Grade Road are a great place to exercise your dog.

Heading north on I-90 you'll soon be able to reach the Rosebud battlefield where General Crook met up with Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, many of whom fought Custer at the Little Bighorn eight days later. The Little Bighorn Battlefield is a national monument and is just across the border at Garyowen, Montana. This site can be taken as a day trip out of Buffalo or a pit stop if traveling from Buffalo to the Yellowstone area.

South into Outlaw Country

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The Barnum Road leaves Kaycee and takes you into the scenic Hole in the Wall country, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made their hideout.

Immediately south of Buffalo is cattle country. Crazy Woman Canyon is a "must see" drive. This scenic drive takes you through the canyon and passes you by streams as it connects US-16 to ranch roads just south of Buffalo. Kaycee is located just south of Buffalo on I-25. It's the jumping off place to see the Hole in the Wall country. Taking the Barnum Road west out of Kaycee will get you into the favorite hideout for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Four wheel drive roads take you into a US Forest Service primitive campsite overlooking Outlaw Cave. When Butch and Sundance were being chased by lawmen they would ride into the Hole in the Wall country. Outlaw Cave is situated at the base of a stream filled valley and overlooks the one draw that leads down into the valley. The wooden rifle perch gives evidence to how they were able to discourage any posse from following them. A nearby corral was used to store stolen cattle and horses. An overhanging rock shelter in the immediate area features prehistoric Indian pictographs from the Indians who lived beneath that overhang in the earlier days. The Dull Knife battlefield is also visible from along this route.

Western history buffs will recall the Johnson County Cattle wars. Many western films were created dramatizing that event, which occurred in 1892 when large cattle barons hired a number of killers to drive out the small ranchers in the area. The barn at the TA ranch on Crazy Woman Creek still bears bullet holes from the famous shootout that occurred there. The barn is on private property and is now a guest ranch so permission would be required to visit the barn. Kaycee is actually named after Nate Champion's KC Ranch. Nate was killed when the hired killers surrounded his cabin and eventually set fire to it, forcing him outside where he was gunned down. Nate's grave can be found in the Buffalo Cemetery.

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Abandoned cabins and line shacks still dot the Wyoming countryside.

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A rock overhang marks the location of a prehistoric Indian dwelling. Pictographs can still be found on the ceiling.

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Outlaw Cave was hidden in a canyon in the Hole in the Wall country. Its ideal location make it easy to defend and posse's did not pursue.

The Perfect Stopover or Destination

RV owners will find that Buffalo fits any itinerary. Our first visits were simply overnight pit stops while passing through on our return from Yellowstone. A brief evening drive was enough to warrant interest in additional time on future trips. Eventually we found ourselves spending a week or longer and making it a destination, rather than a pit stop. There is so much variety here that anyone will find plenty to see and do. It's also a great place to just kick back and relax.

Sources

US Forest Service, Bighorn National Forest
(307) 674-2600
www.fs.fed.us/2/bighorn

Bozeman Trail Association
(307) 684-7687
www.bozemantrail.org

Twin Creeks Campground
(307) 684-5423
www.buffalowykoa.com

Pryor Mountains Wild Mustang Range
N/A
www.pryormustangs.org/viewing_horses.shtml

Bighorn Mountains.com
(307) 217-0056
www.bighornmountains.com

Occidental Hotel
(307) 684-0451
www.occidentalwyoming.com

Bomber Mountain B-17 Crash
N/A
www.ultimatewyoming.com/nuggets/
bomber112205.html

Discover Historic Buffalo
N/A
www.buffalowyoming.org

Deer Park Campground
(307) 684-5722
www.deerparkrv.com

Buffalo Chamber of Commerce
(800) 227-5122
www.buffalowyo.com

Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum
(307) 684-9331
www.jimgatchell.com

Indian Campground
(307) 684-9601
www.indiancampground.com

Kaycee Chamber of Commerce
(307) 738-2444
www.kayceewyoming.com

Fort Phil Kearney
(307) 684-7629
wyoparks.state.wy.us/Site/SiteInfo.aspx?siteID=21


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