Eastern Wyoming to Yellowstone: Cowboy Country, Buffaloes and more

Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Buffalo Bill Reservoir

On June 2, 2013 I continued my trip westward from Lexington thru South Dakota and into Wyoming.  On this leg I started in Gillette, Wyoming and made my way to Rexburg with a trip through Yellowstone National Park.

Welcome to Gillette, WY
Welcome to Gillette, WY

Gillette, Wyoming is the first large town in Wyoming on the western end of I-90.  It was incorporated in 1892 and is now called the “Energy Capital of the Nation” due to the high grade coal reserves as well as nearly 13,000 oil wells.

Cowboy Mural
Downtown Cowboy Mural by Harvey Jackson

Downtown Gillette is not too large, but, along the main street there are a number of sculptures and a great wall mural.  The mural above was done by Gillette artist Harvey Jackson, who has murals throughout Wyoming including a giant mural on the side of L &H Industrial in Gillette called “Campbell County Industrial Mural“, which is twice as large as Mt. Rushmore.

Poco a Poco Se Va Lejos by Pokey Park
Poco a Poco Se Va Lejos by Pokey Park

Gillette has a Mayor’s Art Council which features an “Avenue of the Arts” annually.  They have a number of pieces made and display them on the Main Street through town and then auction them.  Here are a few that I took while driving through town.

Abraham Lincoln - by Gary Lee Price
Abraham Lincoln – by Gary Lee Price

This Abraham Lincoln bronze work by Gary Lee Price is a duplicate of a piece in Jackson, Wyoming, which I visited a couple of months ago.

Talvez Manana by Pokey Park
Talvez Manana by Pokey Park

Pokey Park is a sculptor from Georgia.  She has the two turtles on display.

Belle - Jeannine Young
Belle – Jeannine Young

“Belle” is a work by Jeannine Young of Salt Lake City.

Cowboy - artist unknown
Cowboy – artist unknown
Feeding the geese
Feeding the ducks

Gillette is also home to the “Rockpile Museum.” This Campbell County Museum focuses on general, regional, and local history with an emphasis on the culture and people of Campbell County.  It was opened in 1974 at the site of the historic natural rockpile, which has been a piece of Gillette history since the 1890s.

Rockpile Museum - Gillette, Wyoming
Rockpile Museum – Gillette, Wyoming
Gillette's Rockpile
Gillette’s famous Rockpile

From Gillette I headed west towards Buffalo, Wyoming on I-90.   It was a beautiful day heading into the mountains of Wyoming.  There were some nice views and I also saw some antelope.

Mountains near Buffalo, WY
The Bighorn Mountains near Buffalo, WY
Heading West on I-90 in Wyoming
Heading West on I-90 in Wyoming towards the Bighorn Mountains
Antelope grazing near Buffalo, Wyoming
Antelope grazing near Buffalo, Wyoming
Welcome to Buffalo, WY
Welcome to Buffalo, WY

Buffalo, Wyoming is a nice small town in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.

Horse Sculpture - Buffalo, Wyoming
Cool Water – Buffalo, Wyoming

The sculpture above is called “Cool Water” and was done by Buffalo artist D. Michael Thomas, who has been sculpting cowboy themed pieces for over 30 years.

Nate Champion's Last Run - D. Michael Thomas
Nate Champion’s Last Run – D. Michael Thomas
Buffalo by Lyndon Fayne Pomeroy
Buffalo by Lyndon Fayne Pomeroy

Havre, Montana artist Lyndon Pomeroy did the unique bronze buffalo above.  I noted some of his work in Havre on a previous post.

Mountain Wildflowers - east of Buffalo on US 16
Mountain Wildflowers in a Mountain Meadow – east of Buffalo on US 16

The road from Buffalo, WY to Cody, WY has mountain majesties, wondrous wildflowers and amazing canyons.  Following is some of what I was able to see along US Route 16.

Mountain Scene on US 16 east of Buffalo, WY
Mountain Scene on US 16 east of Buffalo, WY

There are lots of wildflowers in bloom.  The yellow ones closeup look like this

Yellow Wildflowers in Bighorn National Forest
Arrow Leafed Balsamroot in Bighorn National Forest
Lupine in Big Horn National Forest
Lupine in Big Horn National Forest
Meadowlark Lake in Bighorn National Forest on US 16
Meadowlark Lake in Bighorn National Forest on US 16
Tensleep Canyon on US 16
Ten Sleep Canyon on US 16
US Route 16 into Worland, WY from Ten Sleep, WY
US Route 16 into Worland, WY from Ten Sleep, WY

Worland, Wyoming is also home to the Washakie Museum which features exhibits that portrays the history of the Big Horn Basin.  It is also home to a giant Mammoth Bronze statue.  The statue is 25 feet tall and weighs 6000 pounds.  It is the work of Casper, Wyoming (and Sedona, AZ) artist Chris Navarro.

Mammoth Bronze Statue by Chris Navarro in Worland, WY
Mammoth Bronze Statue by Chris Navarro in Worland, WY

From Worland I headed north on US 20 towards Greybull and then west on US 14/16/20 towards Cody.  This provided some great scenes of the mountains of Yellowstone.

Heading west on US 14/16/20 out of Worland
Heading west on US 14/16/20 out of Worland
Another view of the Rocky Mountains near Yellowstone
Another view of the Rocky Mountains near Yellowstone

I eventually arrived in Cody, Wyoming by late morning.  Named after William “Buffalo Bill” Cody who was one of the founders of the town. There is plenty in town of you are a Buffalo Bill (and I don’t mean football) fan!

Welcome to Cody, Wyoming
Welcome to Cody, Wyoming
Painted Grizzly on a corner in Cody
Painted Grizzly on a corner in Cody

The grizzly above is part of a Cody fundraising program called “The Grizzly Gathering“, which was created to raise funds for their library.  Many towns are doing similar things.  We had the horses in Lexington (“Horse Mania“) and I have seen buffaloes (“Buffalo Roam” project in West Yellowstone, WY), birds, etc., as I go through some towns.

Large mural in Cody, Wyoming
Large mural by Austin Kuck in Cody, Wyoming

The mural above is on the wall of Seidel’s Saddlery in Cody.  It was painted by Colorado Austin Kuck.

Cody Theatre - Cody, Wyoming
Cody Theatre – Cody, Wyoming

Of course, like many older towns in the west, there is still plenty of neon….

Irma Restaurant, Cody, WY
Irma Restaurant, Cody, WY
Irma Hotel, Cody, WY
Irma Hotel, Cody, WY

Then, of course, there are the many Buffalo Bill items in town…

Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
The Scout by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
The Scout by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Alternate view of the The Scout - Buffalo Bill statue
Alternate view of the The Scout – Buffalo Bill statue

The Scout is a bronze statue of a mounted rider outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody. It was placed in 1924 to commemorate the town’s most famous resident, Buffalo Bill Cody. Originally in open land on the western outskirts of town, the statue today stands at the end of Sheridan Avenue. The project was initiated by Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, who had established the basis of what would become the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. A New Yorker, she persuaded heiress and artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to sculpt the piece.

"Hard and Fast All the Way" - Buffalo Bill sculpture by Peter M. Fillerup
“Hard and Fast All the Way” – Buffalo Bill sculpture by Peter Fillerup

The above bronze was done by Peter Fillerup of Heber, Utah.  It represents a younger Buffalo Bill as a Pony Express Rider.

Old Indian Woman -m Cody, Wyoming
Indian Woman, Cody, Wyoming
Indian Chief, Cody, Wyoming
Indian Chief, Cody, Wyoming

From Cody I was next on my way to Yellowstone, continuing along the same highway.  As I got closer there were more spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and other unique things as well.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Highway to Wapiti, WY
Highway to Wapiti, WY
Cliffs near Wapiti, WY as seen from US 14/16/20
Cliffs near Wapiti, WY as seen from US 14/16/20

Then there is the famously unique Smith Mansion high up on a hill in Wapiti. This 40 year old structure was the brainchild of Wyoming artist Lee Smith. Smith spent his life, and eventually tragically ended it building this unique house for his family.  He fell to his death at the age of 48 in 1992.  The home is 5 stories tall, has numerous staircases and rooms and hidden entrances.  There is a great deal written about this odd place.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to venture up there, but I did get a good shot from below.

Smith Mansion - Wapiti, WY
Smith Mansion (The Crazy House) – Wapiti, WY
A Black Billed Magpie on a fencepost in Wapiti
A Black Billed Magpie on a fencepost in Wapiti
View towards mountains in Wapiti
View towards mountains in Wapiti
Giant stack of Antlers and Skulls in Wapiti
Giant stack of Antlers and Skulls in Wapiti
Closeup with skulls
Closeup with skulls

From Wapiti the road winds slowly into the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park.

Unique Formations west of Wapiti
Unique Formations west of Wapiti
Sandstone Cliffs and Mountains west of Wapiti
Sandstone Cliffs and Mountains west of Wapiti
The Approach to Yellowtone
The Approach to Yellowstone

The last time I visited Yellowstone National Park was in 1973 while my family lived in Bozeman, Montana.  So, it has been about 40 years since then.  Much has changed, but much has remained the same (or at least appears to have – we all know that geology is also ever changing).

Sumoflam at Yellowstone - First time in 40 years
Sumoflam at Yellowstone – First time in 40 years

In the lower 48 states there are many magnificent National Parks including my personal Big Five of Yellowstone (WY), the Grand Canyon (AZ), Glacier National Park (MT), Zions National Park (UT) and Grand Teton National Park (WY).  There are many others ( I probably would have included Yosemite, but I have not been there yet).  Indeed, I may be known for my visiting offbeat and quirky sites, but don’t let that fool you.  I am enamored by the amazing geographic and historical diversity of this country.  But, I  have only made it to 22 of the nation’s 59 national parks thus far.  I dream of getting to Denali in Alaska and the North Cascades in Washington, along with Yosemite. (Here is a complete list of the National Parks)

Snowy Mountains in Yellowstone
Snowy Mountains in Yellowstone

Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of time on this trip, so I tried to hit the highlights I could on the Grand Loop Road through the park to West Yellowstone.  Here are a few scenes from the drive, some without any captions.

SCENES OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Lake - Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Lake – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Pass - Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Pass – Yellowstone National Park
Burned trees - Yellowstone National Park
Burned trees – Yellowstone National Park
A survivor - Yellowstone National Park
A survivor – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Steam from Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park
Steam from Hot Springs – Yellowstone National Park
Upper Falls of Yellowstone River from Artist's Point
Upper Falls of Yellowstone River from Artist’s Point
Sumoflam at Yellowstone Upper Falls
Sumoflam at Yellowstone Upper Falls

Buffalo and Elk in Yellowstone Park

Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park

Of course, everyone knows that wild buffalo roam Yellowstone National Park, as elk as do deer, elk, moose, antelope, mountain goats, bears and more.  Unfortunately, all I saw were the buffalo (and almost hit one too!!).  I saw a couple of elk as well.  I heard from a few other tourists that they saw some bears hanging around the rivers, but I didn’t see any.

Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
A solitary elk bull relaxes in the meadow at Yellowstone
A solitary elk bull relaxes in the meadow at Yellowstone
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Another bull elk meanders into a field
Another bull elk meanders into a field
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park

As I noted above, I almost ran into a HUGE buffalo while driving through the park.  I rounded a corner and there he was crossing into the road almost in front of me.  This guy was taller than my car and could care less about me rounding the corner. He just kept meandering across the road casually.

Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Huge buffalo right next to my car
Huge buffalo right next to my car

Alas, I eventually made my way to the road out towards West Yellowstone and into Montana.

Heading west out of Yellowstone National Park
Heading west out of Yellowstone National Park
Welcome to Montana
Welcome to Montana

West Yellowstone still has some of the old motels from ages past.  Here are a few of the Ho-Hum Du

Ho-Hum Motel - West Yellowstone
Ho-Hum Motel – West Yellowstone
Dude Motel - West Yellowstone
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone
Westward Motel - West Yellowstone
Westward Motel – West Yellowstone
Leaving Yellowstone for Idaho
Leaving Yellowstone for Idaho

I finally made it into Rexburg late that evening…what a fantastic day this was!!

(2048)

3 Replies to “Eastern Wyoming to Yellowstone: Cowboy Country, Buffaloes and more”

  1. I’m not sure what’s stranger – the crazy house, or the pile or antlers and skulls!

    I would really love to see buffalo in the wild. The closest I’ve come is muskox ranches in Alaska. They’re impressive, but it’s not the same as one wandering in front of your car.

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