#161 - The Virginian Hotel, in Wyoming (2022)

Medicine Bow, Wyoming

When I stumbled across The Virginian Hotel on the internet, I quickly knew it had big potential for a memorable overnight!

I remember laughing out loud as I sat at my computer, hunting for hotel options between Fort Collins and Casper. I hollered to Don in the other room.

"You need to check this out! This might be crazy, but I'm game to stay, if you are!"

​Markers and Signs



So we planned it into our road trip. Medicine Bow wasn't exactly on our route, but it was on the Old Lincoln Highway. It was worth a detour.

When we arrived at the hotel last June, we parked beside two old highway markers.I climbed out of the car and spotted a sign, with a quote, bolted right onto the hotel's cement bricks. The words reminded me that I hadn't done my hotel homework! The Virginian Hotel was named for the first western novel, written in 1902. I wished I had read the book, since I only vaguely remember the old TV series and movies.Standing Sturdy Since 1911The sturdy, but stark hotel looked pretty quiet, sitting beside the highway and across from railroad tracks. Fresh paint helped hide the age of the hotel, completed in 1911.

It was odd to picture this hotel, 106 years ago, capitalizing on a book's success. But the hotel did just that. It was named in honor of Owen Wister's novel, which was set in Medicine Bow. I would love to have seen the town, back in its rowdier days of cowboys and railroad workers.

​Checking In

We headed for the door marked, "Eating House" and met Sharon, after she finished serving some lunch guests.

Sharonwas pleasant and welcoming, but she was obviously juggling a few jobs.There was a moment of worry, when the key to the "Owen Wister Suite" was missing.

​Peeking Around

I tried not to worry about what the missing key revealed. I have a feeling, most visitors come to eat, not to stay overnight.

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I just amused myself looking at the old cash register and the fancy call board. I'm still trying to figure out how those buzzers and arrows worked.

Fancy Dining

While Sharon searched, I wandered through an opening, with velvet drapes and found the more formal dining room.

The set tables looked pretty inviting, even with the stuffed critters watching from above. Sadly this would not be an option for our dinner, since the room was reserved for special occasions.

I paused to grin and greet the colorful ladies, gathered around the table with their cards.I'm not sure how many or what kind of ladies, actually stayed here, in 1911?

So Many Rooms

The 16 rooms on the second floor were all open for viewing. It was pretty clear that no other overnight guests were staying. However, we were prepared to "not be alone" since we knew some travelers in the diner had been invited to explore.

During our own exploring, we found a cute little sitting room. I imagine this was used mostly by the guests renting the smaller "sleeping rooms". The "water closet" was also available for the sleeping room guests, who only had sinks in their room.

The "Owen Wister Suite"

At the end of the hall we found the door to our room. I'd been told it was the prized room, often used for honeymooners. Mostly we chose it, so we wouldn't have to share a "water closet".

There was a sort of confusing cluster of doors and entrances, but basically we had 3 bedrooms, a parlor and a bathroom... and 3 entrances to the hall. We entered the parlor first and found the old button light switch, right beside the nifty call button.

The Parlor

I'm a bit amused to see how elegant the parlor appears in my photo.

My eyes are drawn to the glowing chandelier, the antiques and velvet... the colors of gold and burgundy... even the pipes were painted gold.

The Senses

But there was much more than meets the eye.There were many visuals to distract me, but my other senses went to work.

#161 - The Virginian Hotel, in Wyoming (14)

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The odors of old carpets and fabrics mingled with cooking smells from the kitchen. The sound of a train rumbling by across the street, didn't drown out the sound of the saloon's juke box, below our room. The textures of dusty wood and lumpy pillows and metal radiators... well, it was a lot to take in.

Voices in the Bathroom

My bathroom photo also looks downright cozy, however I had my concerns. The golden tub was cute, but difficult to use.

There were numerous pipes that came up through the floor, along with the voices, laughter and music from the saloon below.We were glad it wasn't a Saturday night.Bedroom Options

Don and I aren't used to having so many bed options with our whacky overnights. We took our decision making seriously.

We could have slept in the yellow room with its sewing machine, if we hadn't been nervous about the bed collapsing in the night. The brass head and footboards leaned towards each other, even without bodies weighting it down. However, the mattress was practically touching the floor, so we might have slept through the fall. "Does, it even have a box spring?" Don asked.

Two More Rooms

The room with the single bed was easy to cross off. The bed near the bathroom looked sturdier, but there seemed to be a huge lump under the 1980's era bedspread.

I bravely investigated and found an issue with some kind of mattress topper. Nope. I wasn't going to sleep on that.


​Settling In

Don and I have a lot of tolerance for the oddities of aging hotels. We choose places that amuse or intrigue us, over hotels that pamper us. Usually we just laugh and take photos. However, sometimes our photos reveal our inner discomfort.

After checking for clean sheets and deciding we were up for the "Virginian Experience", we attempted to settle in. I posed with a hat I found on the dresser and Don read a pamphlet. However, my expression looks anxious and Don looks a bit tense. We are usually so easily entertained, but there seemed to be so much time and so little to do.

Exploring

I peeked out the window and spotted the old train station (now museum) across the highway. It was about 100 degrees, but we decided to explore.

#161 - The Virginian Hotel, in Wyoming (22)

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After peeking in windows of the closed museum, we wandered around the back of the building and found the old bank, a laundromat and a very creepy old jailhouse. I had a good time comparing the image today, to vintage a photo.

​Dressing the Part

Our wandering only ate up a little time. We headed back to the hotel and asked Sharon about ice. She graciously gave us an entire bag from the kitchen. (another hint that this was not a typical hotel) We headed upstairs and got dressed for dinner.

Now, that's something you certainly don't need to do at The Virginian. But Don and I sometimes amuse ourselves with costume changes and a cold beverage. We put on some western gear, in prep. Saloon

Before dinner we stopped in the saloon, expecting to meet the voices we'd been getting to know through our floor.

However, most of the afterwork locals had already moved on and only one beer drinker was left. "You staying in the Owen Wister room?" He asked, sounding more gracious, than nosy. He said he'd been told to lay off the juke box since there were guests upstairs. He asked for our permission to play some tunes and even asked what kind of music we preferred.

Ranch Furniture

While the juke box played a Fleetwood Mac song, I took in my surroundings.​

I found the hefty leather and wood, longhorn chairs pretty tempting. But we were drawn to the bar stools, where we could study the decor.

Horns, Hats and a Clown

Our new friend chatted about life, growing up in an isolated town, of less than 300.

He liked it enough to move back, after some years in more exciting places.

Sad Emmett

Irecognized the sad clown above the bar as Emmett Kelly, the famous Ringling Brothers' clown. I wondered about the sad piece of decoration.

Our friend seemed to think he was a rodeo clown, which would tie into the western decor. Emmett was pitiful enough just hanging above us, but at least he no longer had a rope around his neck. We were told there had been such a rope, until an angry hotel guest made them remove it.

Posing in Our Western Wear

After Sharon hustled over from the Eating House to take our order, our new friend encouraged us to pose behind the bar.

I'm posing with a bottle because I'm not too picky about how I drink my beer. However, Don always asks for a glass. When he asked Sharon, she looked at him as if no one had ever made such an odd request. She looked at his bottle and said, "Your beer's in glass." Don and I grinned at that comment. Sharon wasn't being a bit sassy. She was just stating the fact, before she got Don a mug.

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Dinnertime

There were no options in town for dinner, besides the hotel'sEating Room. Don and I took a table under the fine Virginian mural.

Local families and a few teens ate at the other tables and booths. Sharon teased some teen boys for ordering french fries when dinner was waiting at home. The hotel owner addressed a few diners by name, as he busied himself with some paperwork.

Dining and Goats

While Don and I settled into ourgood enoughsandwichmeals, I became distracted by a man who had stopped by the hotel to announce something about goats.

I ended up outside with a few other diners to see the 3 baby goats riding in his truck. He said they'd been born 2 hours ago and he was out to get them some milk, since they were unable to nurse. That was the highlight of my mea!

​Hunkering Down

We had a few issues, getting ready for bed. A new wave of guests had arrived at the saloon and the voices and juke box music drifted up to our room. Don listed the options for soothing sleep sounds on his phone app, while I took on the light situation.Isafety-pinned the drapes, to block out the exterior spotlight. I told Don we'd need to ignore the hall light glowing through the door's glass transom. We plopped our pillows on the bed and I gave a quick blast of soothing lavender spray.

We both lay back and laughed. We were amused by our accommodations and amused with ourselves. It wasn't even 10:00, but we were going to bed so it would hurry up and be morning. Shortly after 10 pm, we heard a door slam below and the final car pulled away from the gravel lot. For some reason I slept well and hardly even noticed the numerous trains in the night.

​Morning

I woke before 6, when I heard noises from the kitchen. Don said he'd hold off on a shower, until our next hotel.I went for the claw-footed tub experience, using shampoo (from a previous hotel) as my bubble bath. No fancy bath products in the Owen Wister Suite.

We headed downstairs before 8 and turned in our key to a young woman. I sensed a bit of distance. She seemed uncertain about whether to ask about our stay.We headed off, grinning. What a curious place!

​What's Notable?


It'san odd experience being the only overnight guests, in a hotel of this size.Is that what made our stay a little unsettling?

We weren't worried about safety or ghosts or even the dust and smells or sounds. But it was odd sleeping in a building that seemed more of a community gathering place, than a hotel.

I'll remember our curious and creaky Victorian suite and the fortress-like vision, of our isolated hotel. But I will also remember feeling like we were outsiders. When we walked down the stairs, we were the guests from the Owen Wister room. When we were in our room, the voices from the saloon reminded us that we weren't a part of the local crowd. Maybe if we had stayed one more night, we could have eased into the place and talked with more folks. Well, never mind that.

I'm glad we stayed. But one night was all that was needed!

FAQs

How old is the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow Wyoming? ›

What is Medicine Bow Wyoming famous for? ›

Medicine Bow Peak is one of the most well-known peaks in this range and is a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful spot in Wyoming. That's why it's so hard to believe that it was the site of the worst air disaster in the United States at the time.

Where is Medicine Bow in The Virginian? ›

Medicine Bow Wyoming is a real place in the state of Wyoming. It is the setting of both The Virginian tv series and The Virginian novel.

What year was Medicine Bow Wyoming founded? ›

Medicine Bow was founded in 1868 as a Union Pacific watering station along the Medicine Bow river. Watering stations like this were important places in a time when steam locomotives used thousands of gallons of water just to go relatively short distances.

Is Medicine Bow Wyoming a real town? ›

Medicine Bow is a town in Carbon County, Wyoming, United States. The population was 284 at the 2010 census.

What happened in Medicine Bow Wyoming? ›

October 7, 1955: Local authorities, reporters, and two priests reached the site where United Airlines Flight 409 crashed into Medicine Bow Peak at that time, the deadliest accident in U.S. commercial aviation history, killing all 66 passengers.

What towns are close to Medicine Bow Wyoming? ›

Local towns near Medicine Bow, WY
  • Oil Springs, WY.
  • Carbon, WY.
  • Wilcox, WY.
  • Sampo, WY.
  • Rock River, WY.
  • Old Brooks Place, WY.
  • Elmo, WY.
  • McFadden, WY.

Was the Virginian filmed in Medicine Bow Wyoming? ›

The show was shot on the Universal backlot where the Shiloh Ranch had been built especially for the show, at Six Points Texas, and on stage 34. The Medicine Bow western street set (pictured below) was destroyed in the 1967 fire, and the present day Court of Miracles was built in it's place.

How long does it take to hike Medicine Bow Peak? ›

Experience this 3.2-mile out-and-back trail near Centennial, Wyoming. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 2 h 14 min to complete.

Where was the Shiloh Ranch in The Virginian? ›

Shiloh Ranch was in Medicine Bow, Wyoming.

Where are the Medicine Bow Mountains in Wyoming? ›

Medicine Bow Peak (12,018 ft (3,663 m)) is the highest peak in the Snowy Range, a part of the Medicine Bow Mountains, about 35 miles (56 km) west of Laramie, Wyoming. It lies within Medicine Bow National Forest and is the highest point in southern Wyoming.

What is the elevation of Medicine Bow Wyoming? ›

How did Medicine Bow get its name? ›

Medicine Bow and Roosevelt national forests embrace parts of the mountain region, which was the setting for Owen Wister's popular novel, The Virginian. The name is thought to be derived from the gathering of Indians in the area for the purpose of collecting wood for bows and holding ceremonial, or “medicine,” dances.

How far is Medicine Bow from Casper? ›

There are 67.33 miles from Casper to Medicine Bow in south direction and 95 miles (152.89 kilometers) by car, following the WY 487 route. Casper and Medicine Bow are 2 hours 20 mins far apart, if you drive non-stop . This is the fastest route from Casper, WY to Medicine Bow, WY. The halfway point is Shirley Basin, WY.

Is there elk on Elk Mountain Wyoming? ›

Elk Hunting in Wyoming Hunt Area 125 - Elk Mountain. In 2019, 4,297 elk were classified during the postseason aerial classification survey (Appendix A).

What is there to do in Rock River Wyoming? ›

Essential Rock River
  • Snowy Range Ski Area. 111. ...
  • Snowy Range Scenic Byway. 171. ...
  • Country Junction. Art Galleries.
  • Nici Self Historical Museum. Historic Sites, History Museums.
  • Medicine Bow National Forest. 341. ...
  • Two Dogs Guide Service. River Rafting & Tubing, Fishing Charters & Tours.
  • West Laramie Fly Store. ...
  • 2022.

What is Centennial Wyoming known for? ›

The quaint mountain town of Centennial is the gateway to Wyoming's beautiful Snowy Range Mountains in Medicine Bow National Forest. Providing the perfect base camp for hikers, backpackers, anglers and others looking to escape into the area's pristine natural spaces, Centennial offers solitude and friendly hospitality.

How big is Cody Wyoming? ›

Where are the Laramie Plains? ›

The Laramie Plains is an arid highland at an elevation of approx. 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in south central Wyoming in the United States. The plains extend along the upper basin of the Laramie River on the east side of the Medicine Bow Range. The city of Laramie is the largest community in the valley.

Is Laramie a city or a town? ›

Laramie /ˈlærəmi/ is a city in and the county seat of Albany County, Wyoming, United States. The population was estimated 32,711 in 2019, making it the third-largest city in Wyoming after Cheyenne and Casper.

What towns are in Albany County Wyoming? ›

Albany County

Does the Shiloh Ranch still exist? ›

Sad to say the site of Shiloh Ranch is now occupied by the Universal City Walk area overlooking the Hollywood freeway. Shiloh Ranch was still in use by Universal Studio productions up until the mid 1970s but was levelled to make way for the expansion of the Universal Studios tour area.

Who owns the Shiloh Ranch on The Virginian? ›

Shiloh Ranch was originally owned by Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb) and his daughter Betsy (Roberta Shore), then changed hands a few times to the Grainger brothers (Charles Bickford and John McIntire), and finally ends up under the ownership of Colonel Alan McKenzie.

How many owners of the Shiloh Ranch on The Virginian? ›

The foreman worked under five ranch owners throughout the series: Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb), Morgan Starr (John Dehner), John Grainger (Charles Bickford), Clay Grainger (John McIntire), and Col. Alan Mackenzie (Stewart Granger).
...
The Virginian
GenderMale
OccupationForeman of the Shiloh Ranch in Medicine Bow, Wyoming
6 more rows

How long is the Snowy Range Scenic Byway? ›

The Snowy Range Scenic Byway crosses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range and includes the 29 miles of theMedicine Bow-Routt National Forestportion of Wyoming Highway 130.

What is the elevation of Centennial Wyoming? ›

What mountain range is by Wheatland Wyoming? ›

The Laramie Peak area is located in east central Wyoming, stretching from southeast of Casper to west of Wheatland. This portion of the Medicine Bow National Forest is part of the Laramie Range and is dominated by the jagged 10,274 foot crest of Laramie Peak.

What was the name of the ranch in Virginia? ›

The Shiloh Ranch is the ranch which The Virginian and Trampas work. It is first owned by Judge Henry Garth. Over the series run, it is owned and managed by 4 more men.

How many acres was the Shiloh Ranch? ›

The 850-acre park includes oak woodlands, forests of mixed evergreens, ridges with sweeping views of the Santa Rosa Plain, canyons, rolling hills, a shaded creek, and a pond.

What was the Virginians name? ›

More Stories by Mike. James Drury, who starred as the no-name, no-nonsense foreman of the Shiloh Ranch on The Virginian, one of the longest-running Westerns in the history of television, died Monday of natural causes. He was 85.

Are there bears in Medicine Bow Routt National Forest? ›

The Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests are bear country and the recreating public should properly store anything that could attract bears.”

What is the oldest mountain range in Wyoming? ›

Answer and Explanation: After using radiometric dating, researchers can confirm that the oldest mountain range in the United States of America is the Black Hills range of South Dakota and Wyoming. These mountains are 1.8 billion years old, a whole 600 million years older than the Appalachians at 1.2 billion years old.

Where are the Snowy Mountains in Wyoming? ›

The “Snowies” lie just 35 miles west of Laramie in the Medicine Bow National Forest. Access to campgrounds, picnic sites, observation points, and hiking trails are plentiful, and high alpine lake recreation such as trout fishing, paddle boarding, or kayaking are popular attractions.

How tall is Medicine Bow Peak? ›

Sitting high in the crown of the Snowy Range, Medicine Bow Peak is the highest mountain in southern Wyoming. At 12,013 feet in elevation and with over 3,200 feet of prominence, Medicine Bow Peak is part of an enormous proterozoic quartzite ridge that juts above the Medicine Bow Mountains.

Where is the Medicine Bow range? ›

The Medicine Bow Mountains are a mountain range in the Rocky Mountains that extend 100 miles (160 km) from northern Colorado into southern Wyoming. The northern extent of this range is the sub-range the Snowy Range.

What is the altitude of Laramie Wyoming? ›

Its elevation of 2,200 m (7,200 feet) assures an invigorating climate. It is sunny, dry, and smogless. It possesses the virtues of a small city characterized by a relaxed friendly population, excellent schools, and little congestion or crime. Laramie offers the conveniences of most small university towns.

How did Medicine Bow get its name? ›

Medicine Bow and Roosevelt national forests embrace parts of the mountain region, which was the setting for Owen Wister's popular novel, The Virginian. The name is thought to be derived from the gathering of Indians in the area for the purpose of collecting wood for bows and holding ceremonial, or “medicine,” dances.

What is Centennial Wyoming known for? ›

The quaint mountain town of Centennial is the gateway to Wyoming's beautiful Snowy Range Mountains in Medicine Bow National Forest. Providing the perfect base camp for hikers, backpackers, anglers and others looking to escape into the area's pristine natural spaces, Centennial offers solitude and friendly hospitality.

How high is Medicine Bow Peak? ›

Medicine Bow Peak (12,018 ft (3,663 m)) is the highest peak in the Snowy Range, a part of the Medicine Bow Mountains, about 35 miles (56 km) west of Laramie, Wyoming. It lies within Medicine Bow National Forest and is the highest point in southern Wyoming.

What is there to do in Rock River Wyoming? ›

Essential Rock River
  • Snowy Range Ski Area. 111. ...
  • Snowy Range Scenic Byway. 171. ...
  • Country Junction. Art Galleries.
  • Nici Self Historical Museum. Historic Sites, History Museums.
  • Medicine Bow National Forest. 341. ...
  • Two Dogs Guide Service. River Rafting & Tubing, Fishing Charters & Tours.
  • West Laramie Fly Store. ...
  • 2022.

Why is it called Crazy Woman Creek Wyoming? ›

After he was killed, his young wife made her escape, only to wander up and down the creek, demented. Because of the loss of her sanity, she was safe from further harm by the Indians. It is said that Jeremiah Johnson cared for her thereafter. Two legends give rise to the name of Crazy Woman Creek.

What is the elevation of Medicine Bow Wyoming? ›

Is there elk on Elk Mountain Wyoming? ›

Elk Hunting in Wyoming Hunt Area 125 - Elk Mountain. In 2019, 4,297 elk were classified during the postseason aerial classification survey (Appendix A).

How long is the Snowy Range Scenic Byway? ›

The Snowy Range Scenic Byway crosses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range and includes the 29 miles of theMedicine Bow-Routt National Forestportion of Wyoming Highway 130.

What is the elevation of Centennial Wyoming? ›

What is the altitude of Laramie Wyoming? ›

Its elevation of 2,200 m (7,200 feet) assures an invigorating climate. It is sunny, dry, and smogless. It possesses the virtues of a small city characterized by a relaxed friendly population, excellent schools, and little congestion or crime. Laramie offers the conveniences of most small university towns.

Where is the Medicine Bow range? ›

The Medicine Bow Mountains are a mountain range in the Rocky Mountains that extend 100 miles (160 km) from northern Colorado into southern Wyoming. The northern extent of this range is the sub-range the Snowy Range.

Where is Bow Peak? ›

Bow Peak is a 2,840-metre (9,320-foot) mountain summit located in the Bow River valley of Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, Canada. Its nearest higher peak is Crowfoot Mountain, 2.11 km (1.31 mi) to the east.

What mountain range is by Wheatland Wyoming? ›

The Laramie Peak area is located in east central Wyoming, stretching from southeast of Casper to west of Wheatland. This portion of the Medicine Bow National Forest is part of the Laramie Range and is dominated by the jagged 10,274 foot crest of Laramie Peak.

What is Rock Springs WY known for? ›

About Rock Springs, Wyoming

The railroad's conversion to diesel and oil power in the mid-1900s drove out many of the city's coal mines. But today, Rock Springs thrives with trona mines and the oil and gas industry, keeping the city vibrant and making it a local hub for dining, shopping, and attractions.

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