The Legend Behind the ‘Crazy Woman’ in Wyoming

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A woman underwater curving her back under the surface.

Haunting legends throughout America draw visitors to experience the paranormal. But the tale of the “Crazy Woman” in Buffalo, Wyo. is one more of sadness than fear.

Although you’ll hear a few variations, they all tell the story of a woman who suffered a tragic fate. Let’s learn more about this “Crazy Woman” and what you can do when visiting Wyoming.

About Buffalo, Wyoming

Between Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore lies the city of Buffalo, Wyoming. It lies on the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway, a stunning and easy drive between these two national treasures.

At the foot of the Bighorn Mountains, Buffalo offers guests and residents beautiful scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities. Many enjoy skiing, fishing, camping, and hunting. Buffalo is only about 4 square miles and is home to about 4,400 people.

Traveler’s Tip: Do you know what the Green River in Wyoming is famous for?

How to Get to Buffalo, Wyoming

Buffalo sits conveniently at the intersection of Interstates 25 and 90 in north-central Wyoming. You can easily reach the city from Montana by driving south on I-90 for about 60 miles.

Spearfish, S.D., is about 164 miles east along I-90. And Casper, Wyo., lies about 114 miles south of Buffalo down I-25.

Legends Surrounding the ‘Crazy Woman’ in Wyoming

Native Americans have lived in this part of the American West for thousands of years, long before the settlement of Europeans. Because of Wyoming’s cultural heritage, numerous legends surround the land. One of those is the story of “Crazy Woman.”

One legend tells the story of the Morgan family traveling in a covered wagon when Sioux people attacked and killed the three children and father. The mother survived and went crazy after witnessing such horror. She turned on the warriors, grabbed an ax, and killed four of them as they fled the bloody scene.

Mrs. Morgan refused to leave her family. A man named Johnson came along and buried her family members. He also built Mrs. Morgan a small cabin, but later, he found her frozen body, dead from starvation. The stream near where she and her family died was named Crazy Woman Creek.

Moonlight shining over a body of water at night, gently illuminating the water ripples.

Another legend that could stem from this first story is about a trader who sold “firewater,” otherwise known as whiskey, to the Native Americans. When they ran out and returned for more, he didn’t have any left to give them. The Native Americans killed him, but his wife escaped. She wandered along the creek, eventually losing her mind. A man named Johnson was also said to care for her.

A third legend tells the story of a young woman whose village was attacked, and she was subsequently killed. The Crow Tribe believed she could be seen on moonlit nights at the creek. They also thought she brought good luck.

Where Is the ‘Crazy Woman’ Historical Marker?

If you travel Highway 87, take exit 291 to Buffalo Sussex Cutoff Road. You’ll drive about 12 to 15 miles to Irigaray Road, where you’ll make a U-turn and go back about a mile. You’ll find the Crazy Woman historical marker at points 44° 5.047′ N, 106° 31.451′ W at the Crazy Woman Battlefield Monument.

Things to Do Near Buffalo, Wyoming 

You’re not likely going to drive to Buffalo, Wyo., just to see the Crazy Woman historical marker. You can enjoy outdoor and cultural activities, like taking the beautiful Crazy Woman Canyon Road or learning about how wool becomes yarn. Here are more things to do near Buffalo.

Take an ATV Ride Through the Bighorn National Forest

Ultimate Outdoors is a company that provides ATV, UTV, and snowmobile tours for all ages. Book an ATV ride through 450,000 acres of the Bighorn National Forest. The guides have authorized permits from the USDA Forest Service, so you don’t have to worry about getting your own.

You’ll get a helmet and goggles and go through important safety procedures before heading out on your adventure. Book a half-day or full-day tour when you visit Buffalo.

Drive the Crazy Woman Canyon Road

Crazy Woman Canyon Road, also known as Wyoming 33, runs through the Bighorn National Forest. Experience the beauty of towering cliffs, rushing creeks, and Wyoming’s rugged wilderness.

This scenic drive is easy and open to all travelers. Along the drive, you’ll see enormous cliffs and boulders. Imagine Native Americans or outlaws hiding out in the crevices of these giant rocks. You can also access Crazy Woman Creek Trail and Crazy Woman Creek.

Want to learn more about drawing or painting? Contact Crazy Woman Fine Art Gallery to book an art lesson. Jenny Wuerker has taught others for more than 25 years, so you’ll receive quality instruction from an experienced educator.

As an artist, Wuerker loves to paint landscapes that pull in the viewer. There’s a powerful stillness in her work that captures the essence of the West.

Tour the Mountain Meadow Wool Mill

Another educational experience you may enjoy is a Mountain Meadow Wool Mill tour. Here visitors learn the process of transforming shorn wool into beautifully hand-dyed finished yarn. 

The upper mezzanine allows visitors to look down on the production floor, where they’ll view how wool gets washed, dried, combed, spun, and hand-dyed. You can take a self-guided tour anytime the gift shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. When finished, browse the store and go home with a souvenir from Buffalo.

Book a Room at the Historic Occidental Hotel 

If you want to experience Buffalo, Wyo., and the city’s history, you have to book a room at the Occidental Hotel. Fondly called the “Ox,” the Occidental Hotel is a popular landmark in Wyoming. It has welcomed guests for more than 140 years. 

Enjoy Old West decor, accommodations, and access to the 1908 Historic Saloon, The Virginian Restaurant, and the Busy Bee. You can also visit for some live music every Thursday night.

Many of the antiques that fill the rooms are original to the Occidental Hotel. You can even bring your furry friend as some rooms are pet-friendly.

Will You Visit the Crazy Woman Historical Marker?

Buffalo, Wyo., is home to the spectacular scenery of the Bighorn Mountains and the cherished history of the Native American people. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you meander through this Old West city.

When you plan your visit, drive out to the Crazy Woman historical marker and dip your toes in the creek she was said to have visited at night. Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of her.

Buffalo has many things to offer and makes a great road trip destination for those traveling through Wyoming. So before you get to Cody or after you’ve visited Yellowstone, take a slight detour for a couple of days and stop in Buffalo, Wyo.

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