Buffalo Overlook views a large bison herd owned by the City of Denver at Genesee Park off of Interstate 70 west of Denver. The 30 or so bison, descendants of the last wild bison herd in the United States, come from a group of seven bison brought here from Yellowstone Park in 1914. The bison live on 743 acres divided into pastures on both the north and south sides of Interstate 70. A tunnel lets them pass between pastures. The overlook lies on the outside of a bend of Stapleton Road northeast of Exit 253 on I-70.The bison, one of the country’s most genetically pure herds, are often seen on the right side of the highway as you speed west to Georgetown and Eisenhower Tunnel so it’s a worthwhile stop to visit the overlook. Autumn and winter are often the best time to glimpse the shaggy beasts since they’re hay fed. In summer, they often hang out in shaded arroyos. The 2,413-acre park also harbors an elk herd.
- Reach the overlook by driving west from Denver on Interstate 70 for about 20 miles to Exit 254. From the west side of the highway, go north on Stapleton Road paralleling the highway for 0.5 miles to Buffalo Overlook on the right.
- The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave sits atop nearby Lookout Mountain above Golden. William F. Cody, nicknamed Buffalo Bill, was one of the prodigious hunters who almost exterminated the bison from western North America. The museum commemorates his life and times with Native American artifacts, exhibits of his famed Wild West Show, and memorabilia. His gravesite is free for visitation.
- Genesee Park, Denver’s first and largest mountain parkland, is a gateway to the Rockies. Beside the bison and elk herds, the park offers spectacular views of the Continental Divide peaks, the historic 8.6-mile Beaver Brook Trail, the Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground at Exit 253, a Braille Nature Trail, and kid’s education programs at the Genesee Experiential Center.
- Millions of North American bison roamed the Great Plains until hunters nearly wiped them out in the late 19th They’ve gradually made a comeback, with wild herds in places like Yellowstone National Park and Badlands National Park. Many of the bison, however, have interbred with cattle so few pure herds like the Genesee herd still exists. Buffalo are known for their bad temperament. Keep your distance and don’t try to poke, prod, or pet them through the fences.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green