Come for the Adventure, Stay for the Community
Four Visitors Tell You Why They Never Want To Leave
our stories begin
Johnson County, Wyoming, is a place of legend and living history that calls people from all around the world to explore one of the few unspoiled places left in the American West. What began with sheepherders, cattle barons, renegades, and rustlers in Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyoming, have become welcoming western towns that deeply touch those who visit. Some so much so, they never leave.
Four such travelers who came to experience both the beauty of the Bighorn Mountain wilderness and the Western frontier share what brought them out west and why they love Johnson County, Wyoming, so much they now (or hope to soon) call this picture-perfect community home.
Carol Shirey’s parents retired to Buffalo, Wyoming, over 10 years ago. She’s made the trip from Los Angeles, California, and, most recently, Fort Worth, Texas, to visit for short periods over the years. The pandemic offered her a chance to stay a while longer.
“I always felt like I fell into a comfortable rhythm within days of arriving, and my trip was over way too soon. When the pandemic freed me from the office’s constraints, and I realized I could work anywhere, Buffalo, Wyoming, was the one place that I wanted to be,” she said.
When asked what connects her to this part of the country, she had one perfect word: Simplicity.
“The slower pace. It’s a pause. Maybe it’s the sun sinking behind the Bighorns that stops me in my tracks. Or the friendly smiles from folks lingering outside the Occidental, but something changes my trajectory, slows me down in the best way possible. Opens the door to physical and mental health, creativity, connection, and fellowship,” said Shirey.
You’ll find Shirey hitting the local trails when she’s in town — an activity she can easily do since going hiking here is not a production requiring a two-hour car drive. Ten minutes after she shuts down her computer, she is blazing up a trail, letting all the day’s distractions slip away.
When she’s not exploring the natural side of Johnson County, she’ll be on Main Street in Buffalo, her favorite spot in town.
“When I drove into Buffalo, I purposely exited early so I could drive down Main Street. It was evening, the town was quiet, and I immediately felt the stress melt away,” she said.
Spaniard Gonzalo Garcia grew up in a small town about 40 miles from Madrid, surrounded by mountains. He became a computer science engineer living in Houston, Texas. It should come as no surprise that eventually the mountains would call to him again, this time in Wyoming.
“I traveled for the first time back in July, arriving in Buffalo by chance. I had left Houston Texas, where I live, to take a road trip. I think road trips are part of the American culture, and I wanted to experience it since I can work remotely,” said Garcia.
After crossing several states, he arrived, thinking he’d stay for a few days in Claudia Todd’s teepee. That stay turned into almost three months over two trips. A cattle drive in the Bighorn Mountains with Double Rafter (a unique experience that he highly recommends) was the beginning of his discovery journey.
“I wanted to stay in Buffalo because of the people, the mountains, the light, and the colors. I had magic moments horseback riding in the never-ending spaces. Very quickly the time as we understand it in big cities took a back seat, and like many others before me, I fell in love with the region and the county,” he said.
Garcia initially returned to Houston after one month, but he was captured by the people and the region. He stayed in Texas for a week before packing up his things to drive back to Wyoming and the magic of the wide-open spaces where he could take a long horse ride in the middle of nowhere with good friends, crossing the creeks and riding up and down the mountains.
“If you want to discover great open spaces, spend time with yourself at a different pace, meet welcoming people from different cultures, and enjoy many activities in nature, my choice is Johnson County,” he said.
Ralf Reisinger found himself in Johnson County, Wyoming, in August 2020, where he spent several months running his western apparel company and playing in the great outdoors during the pandemic. Originally from Bavaria, Germany, he came out west to visit family and could see himself calling Buffalo home.
“I haven’t moved yet, but I am strongly considering it. The hometown and small-town feel are appealing, where honest, helpful, and friendly people make up the community,” explained Resinger. What you see is usually what you get here. I have the feeling the people I met and made friends with in Johnson County are more honest and tell you what is really going on.”
Growing up in Europe watching classic western movies, Resinger has a keen idea what a western town should look and feel like. He considers Johnson County the real America with cowgirls and cowboys, horses and craft beers, and the Bighorn mountains for all kinds of outdoor adventures.
“I live in Fort Myers, Florida, and it has grown so much that there is no longer a feeling of community here. In Johnson County, the people are still friendly, greeting strangers and living by strong values,” he said. “I’m considering moving my family to Buffalo to experience this every day. Hopefully, we will be able to do our part to maintain and deepen the great experience I had spending time in Johnson County.”
Before you dive in, please note:
Johnson County, Wyoming, and our local businesses and attractions are taking necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this unprecedented time. Before you make your plans to go to any of the locations listed on this website and in the articles, please visit their website to familiarize yourself with their guidelines. And please, wear your favorite face covering while visiting Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyoming.
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