Nothing says fall in the Johnson County, from Buffalo to Kaycee and beyond, like hunting season. Folks come from miles around, even internationally, to hunt the Bighorns and surrounding area, and for good reason. The diverse wildlife populations, readily available licenses, vast public lands, and amazing scenery make for an experience you just won’t find anywhere else.
But what about folks who don’t hunt? What kind of options are there for them, you ask? Well, we’re here to tell you, the possibilities are endless. From sightseeing drives, to hiking, biking and horseback riding to fall fishing, the area is nothing short of miraculous in the fall. And let’s not forget, rich in diverse scenery and history.
Let’s Take a Trip to Kaycee, WY
The beautiful thing about our area and the Bighorn Mountains (among many), is that the options for an incredible fall tour are as abundent as the wildlife you’ll see while on them. For our purposes here, we’ll take you through a fall road trip from Buffalo to Kaycee and back, with some amazing diverse scenery, fishing and hiking/horseback riding options and even meet an interesting character along the way.
Let’s Begin at Crazy Woman
From large granite peaks picketed with lodgepole pines, to rugged cliffs like a scene from a wild west movie, to vistas of the vast emptiness and beauty of the open prairie, Crazy Woman Canyon is often referred to as one of our most beautiful, popular drives. Offering gorgeous views and excellent fishing, hiking, bouldering and horseback riding opportunities, the road winds along Crazy Woman Creek, that carved this canyon, from the top of the face to the bottom. In the fall, aspens throw a splash of crimson into the greens, yellows, and grays of Crazy Woman Canyon, and drape their lush branches over the crystal-blue creek and its limestone walls.
We’re going to start our tour from the east entrance, at the bottom of Crazy Woman, beginning 18 miles south of Buffalo. (Get directions here.)
Wind your way up the Canyon, making sure to check out the bouldering and fishing opportunities (if you’re so inclined), and get some pictures taken while you’re at it. Camping and pull out areas are dotted throughout the route as well.
Learn about the legend surrounding the name of this lovely canyon at Jim Gatchell Museum. Get maps, advice and tips from the Sports Lure or Forest Service.
Hit the Highway to Hazelton
Once you reach the top of the Canyon, you’ll meet up with Highway 16. From here, take a left and enjoy a 30 mile cruise down the Cloudpeak Scenic byway through our lovely Bighorn National Forest, where you’ll take a left on to Hazelton Road. Here you’ll experience beautiful, open vistas mixed with pockets of timeber, and depending on when you go, herds of sheep, cattle and wildlife as you wind through both public and private lands.
Give It the Slip
As you near the southern end of Hazelton Road, you’ll take what is referred to as the Slip Road down to Kaycee. Here you’ll see breathtaking views, red rocks, prairie and ranches below as you wind your way off the face of the mountain. This is your introduciton to the Outlaw Country…you can almost see the horses and riders of long ago from this incredible vista. Once into Kaycee, the Outlaw Cave country is just a short drive away, with spectacular fall fishing opportunities on the Middle Fork of Powder River. Visit the Kaycee Chamber of Commerce or the Hoofprints of the Past Museum for maps, and tour information (and maybe even a little history lesson). Visit their websites here: Kaycee Chamber of Commerce | Hoofprints of the Past Museum
Visit Downtown Kaycee…And The Horse That Lives Next Door
Once you get into Kaycee, head downtown where you’ll find The Invasion, on main street, and some of the best burgers and fries you’ll find in the state. Next door you may notice a white horse standing in the yard. This horse lives in the yard (yep, on main street) of Hawk Creek Taxidermy, owned and operated by Tim Peterson. Tim made Kaycee his permanent residence in 2015, after spending years traveling here from his home state of Minnesota to guide hunters and hunt himself.
Like so many that came before him, Tim fell in love with the open, untouched space of the Bighorns and Johnson County. The mountains themselves, opportunities to explore on horseback, packing/outfitting work, big game and business opportunities, are all a big draw. In his free time, Tim rides out on his horse to explore, find buffalo skulls & arrowheads, watch a sunset sitting next to his pony on a hill… and it’s all just minutes away. He can get out of his shop, load his horse (who lives in his yard) in the trailer and go.
His home/workshop is located on Main Street of Kaycee, WY, right next to The Invasion bar. He keeps an open invitation for the public to come to his shop, see his work, ask questions and watch him work on projects. He can be reached at 307-738-2201, or found on FB here.
- Time Frame: Allow yourself a good half day to make the trip
- Watch the Weather: Rain and Snow Storms may make travel difficult
- Best Time to Go: Before the end of October (depending on snowfall)