Find your perfect journey by visiting these places in Johnson County, WY, that Inspired a book and Netflix series
If you’ve read the Longmire mysteries or watched the hit Netflix original series Longmire, you’ve been introduced to a taste of Buffalo, Wyoming. How? The New York Times bestselling author of the series drew inspiration from landscapes and businesses right here in Johnson County to create his fictional Absaroka County.
“For me, it’s important to touch the things my characters touch, do the things that they do in the places where they do them. And take yourself on a journey, not unlike those of your characters,” Craig Johnson said in Bella Monticelli’s Perfect Journey video.
You can take your own perfect journey by visiting the places that inspired his stories, so you can truly experience the western lifestyle depicted on page and screen.
Setting the Scene: The Occidental Hotel
The Historic Occidental Hotel is the inspiration for where protagonist Walt Longmire spends much of his time. Known locally as the “Ox,” the famous Old West Wyoming hotel is a popular landmark that has offered authentic historic accommodations with all of the modern conveniences for more than 140 years. Each hotel suite is individually decorated with antiques, many original to the hotel. Suites range in style from the Bordello room to a cowboy bunkhouse. Plus, you’ll find two restaurants, a saloon and beer garden, and a gift shop.
Order Up at the Busy Bee Cafe
After a restful night at the Ox, you can stop in the Busy Bee Cafe and order “The Usual,” a heaping mound of biscuits and spicy gravy (the only place in the state you can get spicy gravy according to the book) ordered frequently by lawman Longmire. The “Bee” is open daily, serving breakfast and lunch in the rustic yet quaint cafe overlooking the tranquil waters of Clear Creek and just steps from The Historic Occidental Hotel entrance.
Get Your Beer Here: The Saloon
Should you have a need or want to wet your whistle, The Saloon at The Occidental Hotel is just what the lawman ordered. The 25-foot bar is where cowboys, sheriffs, desperados, and cattle barons gathered back in the day. You can order Walt’s favorite, a Rainier beer, or any other kind of spirit here while soaking in the ambiance of yesteryear.
Step Back In Time at The Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum and Carnegie Library
While you’re in Buffalo, Wyoming, you’ll surely want to soak in some of its rich history at the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum located in the Carnegie Library Building. The museum’s namesake is pharmacist James Gatchell. The beloved shopkeeper who opened The Buffalo Pharmacy in 1900. He received and collected special gifts from the region’s Native Americans, local residents, and those that passed through town over the years. These artifacts are the collection you’ll find inside, with everything from guns and bows and arrows to medicine bags and clothing, in displays designed to preserve the history of Johnson County, Wyoming. If that doesn’t intrigue you, Longmire fans won’t want to miss stopping by the Carnegie Library, the model for the sheriff’s office in the book series.
Trot Through the Landscape: Horseback Riding
As you’d expect, many of the characters in the Longmire series are no stranger to horses. You can experience Johnson County’s amazing views and vistas atop a strong steed on a day ride with these outfitters. Blacktooth Excursions and South Fork Mountain Lodge offers hourly horseback rides and fully-outfitted pack or drop camp trips in the Bighorn Mountains.
Explore the Scene on Foot: Hiking
When the cast of Longmire isn’t catching bad guys, it’s easy to imagine they’d take the opportunity to hike the Bighorn National Forest. Grab your pack, water bottle, and hiking shoes and enjoy any number of spectacular hikes. The Circle Park Trailhead is suitable for horse trailers, offers overnight camping, and includes trail junctions that make side trips to nearby lakes. The Bud Love and Firebox Canyon Trail are moderate trails with beautiful wildflowers. The Mosier Gulch Recreation Area in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains offers almost 900 acres of ponderosa pine-forested lands to hike. Fuel up at the roadside picnic area, complete with picnic tables and pedestal fire grates, before hitting the easy access Clear Creek walking path, which leads back to Buffalo.
Cast Your Line: Fishing Holes
Anglers will want to try their luck at trout fishing at any number of reservoirs, lakes, and creeks surrounding Buffalo, Wyoming. Tie Hack Reservoir offers a great location for canoeing and fishing for rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and brook trout. Other places to try your luck include Sherd Lake, Clear Creek, and Crazy Woman Canyon Creek. Lake DeSmet between Buffalo and Sheridan is famous for Walleye.
Pick Up Some Memories: Shopping
You’ll want to look the part, or at least take back some Longmire souvenirs after visiting Buffalo, Wyoming. The perfect place to start is Longmire Headquarters, otherwise known as the Bucking Buffalo Supply Company. This shop, owned by Craig and Judy Johnson,is chock full of eclectic western retail featuring brands such as Double D Ranchwear, Tasha Polizzi, Ryan Michael, and Patricia Wolf. In addition to a wide variety of silver and turquoise jewelry, you’ll find Longmire-inspired gifts, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, caps, and more. You can take home scenes from Wyoming at The Hitching Post Gallery. This gallery features western art, including pastel landscapes, etchings and oil paintings, forged iron art, ceramics, wood carving, stained glass, and metal works. You can also pick up Longmire books (including first editions), plus pipes, cigars, and tobacco.
Tastes of Wyoming: Dining
There are even more places to grab a bite to eat in Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyoming. Inside the Occidental Hotel is The Virginian Restaurant aptly named after Owen Wister’s novel, The Virginian. Choose from tender and succulent buffalo steaks, mouth-watering prime rib and filet mignon, seafood, and more. For a more modern flair, stop in 4th on Main, where local artisans craft modern fare on rotating menus in a restaurant adorned with western murals. Dishes include the classic New York Strip Steak and Mama’s Chicken to the fun and funky It’s Gouda Burger and Walleye Cakes.
When it comes to steak, there are two not-to-miss steakhouses in Johnson County, WY. The Winchester Steakhouse is a local legend for fresh, never frozen hand-cut and seasoned steaks. Other favorites include a selection of fish, sea scallops, chicken pot pie, and baby back ribs. Bozeman Trail Steakhouse offers mouthwatering meals and the very best in beef, elk, and bison. This western-style restaurant is on the actual Bozeman Trail and features Longmire’s “The Usual” burger, a Philly burger with a half-pound patty, quarter-pound sliced roast beef, melted pepper jack cheese, grilled onions and peppers topped with two onion rings.