That’s exactly what happened when we rolled into Sheridan, Wyoming. We knew nothing about the town, other than that it was a good stopping off place on our way to Yellowstone from Devils Tower National Monument.
What we discovered is a totally cool town with a distinct western flair. Not only does Sheridan celebrate all things cowboy, but it also honors the Plains Indians culture. And the location is beautiful, set against the backdrop of the Bighorn Mountains.
There’s a lot of great hiking in the Bighorn Mountains, and we did a beautiful six-mile hike in Tongue River Canyon. It was just enough to make us want to return for more.
The Brinton Museum And Historic Quarter Circle A Ranch
One of our most interesting finds was The Brinton Museum, located on a historic ranch in nearby Big Horn. The ranch was the former home of rancher Bradford Brinton, an avid collector of Western art and American Indian artifacts.
It’s a complicated story, but essentially the museum is the result of Brinton’s legacy combined with the efforts of an Anglican priest in Chicago who was safekeeping a treasure trove of Plains Indians artifacts for 40 years. The grandson of the Mars candy bar tycoon who lives next door to the ranch provided the funding for the gorgeous new museum building.
The new museum was dedicated with the blessing of elders from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, and Lakota tribes, who were pleased that the artifacts stored in Chicago for so many years were returned to their homeland.
The location is idyllic; the art collection exquisite, and there’s a fabulous bistro on the top floor with a beautiful view of the Bighorn Mountains. We spent most of a day leisurely exploring the museum, touring Brinton’s ranch house, and enjoying lunch at the Bistro. About that lunch: the Bistro focuses on locally sourced foods, including local meats. Why in the world I ordered ahi—in Wyoming—I’m not exactly sure. It was delicious. But I had a serious case of order envy when Eric’s lunch arrived.
About The RV Park
Driving along the highway near Sheridan returning from our hike, I looked down at an RV park below the road and said to Eric, “That’s exactly the kind of place I wouldn’t want to stay.” And then I spotted our trailer.
Yes, Peter D’s RV Park is just below the highway. And no, it doesn’t have any trees to speak of. But honestly, it’s a great place to stay in Sheridan. It’s surprisingly quiet and the owners are fastidious about their park. They grow a vegetable garden in the center of the park and gave us fresh salad greens when we arrived. Full hookups, exceptionally clean bathhouses and laundry, free wifi, and good Verizon.
On To Cody, Wyoming
The West seems to breed bigger than life characters, and there was perhaps no one with a more colorful persona than William Cody, the town’s founder and namesake. You might know him better as Buffalo Bill.
Our stop in Cody was specifically to visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, an affiliate of the Smithsonian (some people call it the Smithsonian of the West).
The museum is actually several museums in one: a Natural History Museum, Museum of the Plains Indians, Western Art Museum, Firearms Museum, and of course, a Buffalo Bill Museum. Our favorites, by far, were the Museum of the Plains Indians and the Draper Museum of Natural History, which focuses on Yellowstone’s ecosystems.
About The Campground
Buffalo Bill State Park is beautiful. We scored a waterfront site in the North Shore campground with electric and water hookups (book early for these). The campground is conveniently located right off the highway but is quiet, peaceful, and dark, and it’s only a 10-minute drive into Cody. Verizon coverage is good.