Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hanging with Cowboys in Buffalo, Wyoming

Our spot at the Buffalo KOA "Journey" (apparently there are three different types of KOA's).  $47/night

This is the blog that almost wasn't.  I didn’t plan a blog for this stop since it was just a layover, without a lot of exciting photos.  BUT, this is a great little town and I hope we get to opportunity to visit again and stay longer!   Here's the scoop:

Google Map of our KOA next to a Hampton.  Nice spot to meet up with family

It is a short hop (130 miles) from Devils Tower to Buffalo. Campgrounds with openings are slim in peak season (& not cheap!) as we near Yosemite.  The result is our first KOA (largest chain of privately held campgrounds in the world).  Our scheduled 4 nights became 3 when we stay an extra night at Devil’s Tower (although Buffalo KOA graciously didn't charge us, despite not making the 48-hour notification cutoff).  

It's a nice campground with a clean laundry room adjacent to a back patio for lounging, an outdoor kitchen for gatherings, a game room, and small cabins for rent (Sturgis motorcyclists were taking advantage of these).  We had a shady spot, with only tent campers as close neighbors.  However, it filled up on the weekend (& wifi slowed to a crawl).

My ideal campsite involves a shady spot under the awning & a picnic table.
Bonus: The outdoor power outlet works! What a luxury!
Buffalo is at the crossroads...

Buffalo is at the intersection of I-90 and I-25.  This is the end of our trip on the I-90 corridor.  We'll be heading southbound on I-25 toward Colorado.  This stop also puts us within reach of exploring another National Forest.

The Colonel bike ride #1

The Colonel discovers our location is ideal for some bike riding.  There is a "Strava segment" just outside our campground.  Our elevation is 4646 ft (note he climbed another 1162 & 1179 ft respectively!)

Bike ride #2, "That hurt a little."

Another fun fact for the Longmire fans out there, is the author Craig Johnson lives in the area.  Parts of the fictional town of Durant are based on Buffalo including The Busy Bee.  So I headed out for walk...

This shop was closed, but the window display was fun!

Even though the TV show was filmed in New Mexico, many cast members attend the yearly "Longmire Days".  We just missed it!

The local "bookstore" turned out to be mostly Craig Johnson & CJ Box!

Craig Johnson's list of things to do from Cowboys & Indians magazine, "The Longmire Loop": 

C.J. Box is another favorite mystery author whose books are set in Wyoming.  He's from Casper & still lives in the area.

The Busy Bee, next to the Occidental Hotel

This is a genuine "wild west" downtown area, without being touristy/cheesy.  Despite being ON the route to Yosemite, it was hopping with locals in Wrangler's & cowboy hats by happy hour.

The Carnegie Library that inspired Sheriff Longmire's office and a history museum are also here.  Next time!

Wow.  A nice trail system we did not explore enough!

A sculpture dedicated to the Basque

The Bozeman Trail passes through the area

View from Loaf Mountain Overlook (see below for peak names)

On our last day, we decided to take the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway through the "southern loop" of the Bighorn National Forest. We took 16 West from Buffalo to Ten Sleep then returned. Peak elevation of 9666 ft. Our most scenic stop was the Loaf Mountain Overlook.
(for more info try the WY DOT Scenic Byway brochure:

If you have a full day, they recommend doing "the loop":  16 west to Worland, north to Greybull, then 14 west to Sheridan (Bighorn Skyway?) and back south.

Road conditions driving in the National Forest
We are in the car, but we're always taking note of road conditions.  Could we get Odin the Winnebago up here?  Because there at least are four National Forest campgrounds/dispersed camping locations! 

The answer is yes.  The road is wide sweeping curves with a modest shoulder and rumble strips.  After our stop at Devil’s Tower, we are more seriously scouting stops at National Forests.  The good news is, the ones we saw were dirt roads but near the main road and looked accessible for our Class A.  

USDA Forest Service website is worth checking but not all-inclusive!

There are whole apps/websites dedicated to "boondocking" or camping without hookups.  National Forests are one of the options.  We haven't found it easy to get info on them, but we're learning.  Apparently one of the ways to find these gems, is getting a map of vehicle accessible roads from the park ranger. does reservations for the campgrounds in Bighorn but does not include all dispersed camping options.

And for the finale:  a HUGE ribeye.  Can you say, John Candy's 96 ouncer from Great Outdoors?!

And after seeing real cowboys on horseback herding cattle in the foothills, the boss was in the mood for a steak!

Stay tuned for our final stop in Wyoming--Glendo State Park...

@WyomingTourism @WyoStateParks #ThatsWY  

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