As our time in Vail came to an end, I drove Mrs Bear and my daughter, Dani, back to Denver. They caught a flight back to the “Real World,” and I turned my car south. But the night before, Dani was insistent that we dine at the Buckhorn Exchange. I called up an old graduate school friend and the five of us stepped back into the Colorado of yesteryear!!!
The Buckhorn Exchange was founded in 1893 by Henry Zietz, a former Indian scout and rider in the Buffalo Bill show. It got its name by being at a rail exchange that allowed travelers, miners, and Presidents to visit along their journeys. There are hundreds of stuffed animals everywhere and hundreds of antique firearms. The pic above of the water buffalo was a gift from Teddy Roosevelt. After Prohibition, the Exchange was granted Colorado’s first liquor license. The sword of George Custer is on display. It was given to “Shorty Scout” Zietz by Red Cloud, Sitting Bull’s nephew in 1938. The Exchange is still collecting taxidermy, but it is now kinder-gentler… A couple monkeys that grace the enterance were donated by the Denver Zoo, and the white buffalo, pictured above, was given by a local rancher after the animal was killed by others in the herd.
The menu reportedly hasn’t changed much in a century. While Mrs Bear and I had a strip steak for two, Dani ordered the rattlesnake appetizer and the combo buffalo and elk for dinner. Actually, the food was great when we sat down in between looking at the displays
When in Denver, this is a MUST…It is still on the light rail metro stop, so you might not even need a designated driver, The Buckhorn Exchange was a perfect way to end my drive’s stint in the Rockies. Now it is on to the Southwest!!