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Take a Tour in Bison Country

The Durham Bison Ranch in Gillette, Wyoming, offers group tours for planners to add to the itinerary

By Amanda Christensen

Bison have roamed North America for millennia and were a primary resource for many Native American groups—but early European settlers almost brought the species to extinction in the early 1800s due to overhunting and as acts of war against Indigenous peoples. By the 1880s, fewer than 1,000 bison remained. Today, Native American tribes, conservation groups, and responsible ranchers have worked to bring the bison back in high numbers and protect it. One such ranch is Durham Bison Ranch in the northeastern Wyoming city of Gillette. Armando Flocchini Sr. first purchased the 55,000 acres of prairie land dotted with rolling hills and peaked buttes in 1965, and nearly 50 years later, it is one of the largest bison operations on the continent.

Durham Bison Ranch's herd of bison grazing outside. May 23, 2024
Durham Bison Ranch has some 2,000 bison in its herd. || Photo by John Flocchini

“We try to emulate how the bison would have ranged naturally hundreds of years ago,” explains John Flocchini, managing president of the ranch and grandson to Armando Flocchini Sr. “We use time-controlled, planned grazing where we attempt to effectively utilize the range lands and minimize overgrazing of the plants in this semiarid environment. The long-term health of the land is what drives our decision-making when it comes to the land resource.”

This summer, from early June to late August, Durham Bison Ranch offers tours of the property via a bus that can hold up to 18 passengers at a time. Planners can arrange a tour for their group through the Gillette Visitor’s Center. “We take folks to our corral facility where we get off the bus and tour the facility,” says Flocchini. “We talk about what we do and why we do it while there. Once we have gone through that, we load the bus back up and take a ride out into the middle of the roughly 2,000-head bison herd. [Visitors have] ample time to ask lots of questions about ranching techniques and all the interesting things about bison, [and there are also] amazing photo opportunities.”

Among the bison, attendees might also other wildlife on the ranchland, including elk, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, black-tailed prairie dogs, coyote, bobcats, red and swift foxes, badgers, and some 80 species of birds.

“We are very involved with the bison industry, serving acting board member roles on the National Buffalo Foundation as well as serving on many committees of the National Bison Association,” says Flocchini. “We have been at this a long while and enjoy being involved and sharing our knowledge with others.”