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Head to the hills and discover the haunts of Butch Cassidy and Native American holy men

Those in the know consider Buffalo, Wyoming, a sportsman’s paradise. Nestled in a landscape replete with lakes and streams and framed by the daunting Bighorn Mountains, the town is a short drive to prime hunting and fishing spots.

But great scenery and abundant wildlife are only part of the picture. The town proudly wears its frontier heritage on its sleeve, with landmarks indicating the places where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held court. You can also find ample evidence of the influence of Native Americans on the region.

Downtown Buffalo


Photo by Steven G. Smith

In town, visitors can travel back in time to the Wild West days of outlaws and fortune-seekers. More than a dozen historic buildings are found along Main Street, including the famed Occidental Hotel, a portion of which has been restored to a living history museum. The guest register includes the names of performer “Buffalo Bill” Cody, future President Theodore Roosevelt and outlaw Calamity Jane. Butch Cassidy and his infamous Hole-in-the-Wall Gang convened here, and the walls of the well-preserved saloon bear bullet holes from rowdy drinking sessions.

You’ll also find ample Old West history in the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, which houses more than 20,000 artifacts dating back more than a century. Here you’ll find guns and bows and arrows on display along with bonnets worn by the women who braved the frontier.

Take a half or a full day to retrace history on a tour to some of the area’s most legendary Wild West battles between Native Americans and the U.S. Calvary. The highlight is the Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site. It features a museum with impressive displays of battle scenes and local history. Other sites near the fort include the locations of the Fetterman Massacre and Wagon Box Fight, two bloody flare-ups that shaped the history of frontier settlement.

Buffalo folklore draws visitors on a loop tour to Outlaw Cave, the so-called “Hole-in-the-Wall” hideout of Butch, Sundance and the rest of the gang. Look to spot a variety of wildlife on this tour and enjoy views of the Powder River to boot.

Room to Roam

Buffalo enjoys proximity to the Bighorn Mountains, a sister range to the Rocky Mountains. The landscape could not be more diverse. Verdant grasslands, alpine meadows and sparkling lakes give way to glacier-carved valleys surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. Three scenic routes amble 115 miles east to west, giving visitors a chance to see it all.

The Bighorn Scenic Byway (US Highway 14) provides 100-mile views of the Powder River Basin to the east of the Bighorns, as well as access to Shell Canyon and the magnificent Shell Falls. To the west, Medicine Wheel Passage (US Route 14A) takes you by the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, a circular configuration formed by rocks placed with painstaking care by Native Americans centuries ago.

Before embarking on these journeys, take care to mind the elevation and curves. Choose a route that fits your comfort and skill levels.


Big Mountains in Bighorn

The Cloud Peak Skyway (US Highway 16) travels along the southern Bighorn Mountains and provides perhaps the best views of the highest peaks in the mountain range. The tallest is Cloud Peak, soaring more than 13,000 feet.

The Shell Falls Interpretive Site is the lone visitor center operated by Bighorn National Forest. Shell Falls, whose waters plummet at the rate of 3,600 gallons per second, is a must-see. Its water source, Shell Creek, runs deep through sedimentary stone and granite. If hunting big game is your sport, guided hunting trips by local outfitters steer hunters toward the chance to bag one of many trophy species, including elk, game birds, mule deer, antelope, black bear and mountain lion.

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Wyoming Travel & Tourism