Buffalo still roam in this country and while most of them are out West, there are herds that roam free in North Carolina at Buffalo Creek Vacations in Clyde, NC. Less than two hours from Greenville, SC, this vacation destination is close to so much fun, and the property is pretty awesome all by itself. We stayed in a caboose on this beautiful property and have all the details!
Thank you to Buffalo Creek Vacations for inviting us to stay on their property.
Buffalo Creek Vacations is located in Clyde, North Carolina, about an hour and 45 minutes from the Upstate and right in the middle of so many fantastic places in Western North Carolina like the Biltmore in Asheville, the adorable town of Waynesville, and some of the best hiking trails in the state. But Buffalo Creek has its own claim to fame because they have an entire buffalo herd roaming on their property.
These are the very same American Bison that roam out West and were once nearly extinct. As guests of Buffalo Creek, you can watch them get fed and just enjoy them doing their buffalo thing while roaming around the private farm. And you can do it all while staying in a decommissioned caboose or a luxury log cabin. We stayed in the caboose and it was super cool and something that a kid (or grownup) who loves trains will go nuts over if they get the chance to stay here.
About Buffalo Creek Vacations
Harold Clackett was a UPS driver on Long Island, New York when he decided he wanted to get out of the rat race and find someplace beautiful to retire with his wife, Harriet. He had a love of all things America so decided he would do something about it and raise bison. So he built a log cabin in Clyde, NC, with views of the Great Smoky Mountains, and worked on that big dream of his in 1994.
A decade later, the 40 acres behind Harold and Harriet’s log cabin and bison ranch went up for sale. The Clackett kids – five boys and one girl – and their spouses decided they wanted to expand their dad’s dream and create a vacation rental business, along with the bison ranch. So they bought the land and built beautiful cabins on it.
Harold is also a train enthusiast. He had lots of model trains in his basement and just loved tinkering with them. So in 2016, the Clackett family bought a decommissioned caboose and had it shipped all the way to the mountains, renovated it, and started renting it out. Then came another caboose and Buffalo Creek Vacations made a national list of the Top 10 coolest places to stay in the country. High-five!
They have two cabooses for rent and are currently renovating four more.
Staying in a Caboose
I love staying in unique rentals and the decommissioned caboose was no exception. This was a really cool experience.
The caboose rental we stayed in, the Gray Caboose, was part of the Seaboard Coast Line, which operated all along the Eastern Seaboard starting in 1967. I’m fascinated with all things history and loved the story behind the cabooses on the property.
The caboose is quite large and Buffalo Creek did a pretty amazing job renovating it. It has a full kitchen, bathroom, living room, two televisions, a bedroom with a queen bed, and a loft with another queen bed. The couch folds out to a twin sleeper so in all, the caboose can sleep five people. There is also free wi-fi.
Also, the windows look out on the pasture where the buffalo roam so you can see them right from the caboose! All of the accommodations at Buffalo Creek are pet-friendly.
The BC Depot
The BC Depot is right next to the cabooses and houses the game room, the huge model train room, the little shop, and laundry area.
My kids absolutely loved the game room and one didn’t want to leave. Ever.
Buffalo Creek has a ping pong table, foosball, a mostly enclosed area with lots of toys for smaller kids, a chess/checker table, and air hockey. You can also hang out there and play a DVD or take one back to your caboose to watch later. They’ve also got a pet turtle in there plus coffee and all kinds of books to read and information about the area to peruse.
The little shop has all kinds of buffalo-themed goodies like aprons, stuffed animals, socks, shirts, and keychains. Cheryl, one of the owners and the only daughter of Harriet and Harold, will likely be in here and is so friendly and helpful. If you have any questions at all, she will know the answer!
The Buffalo Ranch
So Buffalo Creek Vacations is really unique and fun because they are situated on a buffalo ranch and I find these creatures pretty fascinating. They literally roam the property (with fences) and you can see them hanging out and chilling and do whatever it is that buffalos enjoy doing.
At 9:30 am every morning, they are fed and guests are invited to watch. Let me tell you – this was entertaining. Feeding the buffalo herd, which consists of more than 35 heads of them, is quite the task. They get fed special pellets once a day and graze the rest of the day in the pastures. To feed the buffalo, Harold, 78, drives the tractor while his wife, Harriet, also 78 years old, and a cousin of the family, Dennis, sits on the front end with the buckets of pellets and dumps them into the troughs.
Buffalo, which is the nickname of bison, are not typically nice creatures. They are part of the Bovidae family, which consists of cattle and antelope. While they seem like fluffy cows, they can run up to 30 miles per hour and jump straight up six feet, plus they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and have horns. They can easily run you over and cause serious damage, which is why warnings about staying away from these buffalo are all over national parks where they roam out in Yellowstone. These are the same animals at Buffalo Creek so definitely follow all the signs and don’t think you can go cuddle with these wild mammals.
Now, back to the feeding of the buffalo by the coolest grandparents I think I’ve met, aside from my own. These two septuagenarians on the tractor feed the buffalo every morning and do it fast and efficiently. If I manage to live to be 78 years old, I hope I can be as fearless and adventurous as these two grandparents.
Jeff, Cheryl’s husband, told me all kinds of cool buffalo facts while we watched Harold and Harriet feed the herd and hold a new baby goat (best day ever honestly). Buffalo are pregnant for about nine months and they rut for a couple months in the late summer and give birth in late spring/early summer. Baby buffalo weigh around 60-70 pounds and put on weight quickly. Their hides are a tan color and then turn brown as they grow older. The hides feel rough and are fuller during the winter. When summer rolls around, the buffalo will rub against trees to shed some of that course fur to stay cooler.
There are also mini-horses, llamas, alpacas, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and horses at Buffalo Creek Vacations. The alpacas and llamas are sheared once a year for their fluffy fur and the goats make baby goats, which make a lot of people happy. The donkey is one of the guard animals and we got to hear him hee-haw a bunch of times. They are louder than you think!
Model Trains Everywhere at Agapeland
Harold Clackett is a train enthusiast and over his lifetime had collected a significant number of model trains, which he kept in his basement. When the BC Depot was built, a special room was added for the Smoky Mountain Model Railroaders Club, which is like walking into another world of tiny people, landscapes, and trains.
The model train room is part of the ranch but a separate fee is charged to enter and explore the room ($10/adults, and $8/kids and seniors). Guests get a reduced rate.
The room, called Agapeland, currently has nine working trains and I’m guessing about eight or nine separate little worlds – a carnival, a 50s diner, a little town, a mining village, a castle, and several others. I lost count. I was so overwhelmed walking into that room and was amazed at what this model train world consisted of. I’d definitely recommend a stop at Agapeland while you visit. Plus, this is a great stop if you’re in the area. Totally worth it plus you can see the buffalo.
Birthday Parties, Field Trips, and Day Passes
If you want to host a birthday party at Buffalo Creek Vacations, that’s an option. They have a lot of space in the BC Depot and offer opportunities for kids to interact with the animals and see the buffalo.
In addition, field trips are also offered at the ranch. There’s a lot to see and learn about farming and animals.
If you’re in the area or want to make a day trip to Buffalo Creek Vacations, they offer a Day-Cation Pass. The pass allows you to watch the daily bison feeding, check out the model trains, do a mini-horse ride, visit the playground and game room, and see all the animals. You also get a free souvenir cup of animal feed to give the goats some treats. The day pass is good from 9 am – Noon and costs $45/adult and $38/child ages 3-17. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
The BC Coral is the big playground at Buffalo Creek. It’s an old-school one with wooden bridges, monkey bars, a climbing ball, see-saw, and little zip line. My kids loved it.
To get to it, you actually have to hike one of the trails, which was definitely fun. It’s uphill on the way there and only takes about 10 minutes to get there from the cabooses and BC Depot. We went before the bison feeding so didn’t have a lot of time. My kids would have definitely stayed longer if I had let them!
As we didn’t stay in one of the luxury cabins at Buffalo Creek Vacations, I can’t speak directly to those log cabins but we did walk by a couple of them and they look beautiful. All cabins were built almost solely by the family and every luxury cabin is pet-friendly and have pool tables, wi-fi, a private fire ring, and hot tub.
Cabins sleep anywhere from 2 to 14 people so this is an awesome place for a family trip, couples retreat, or even a family reunion or wedding party.
And if you want a massage, they actually have a masseuse that will come to the property and give you a massage right in the cabin. Heaven.
Nearby Things to Do
Buffalo Creek Vacations is in such an ideal location that it’s hard to pick one or two things nearby to focus on if you want to do some day tripping. So I’m just going to tell you a bunch of things and you can choose!
Hiking & Outdoor Fun
This is one of the best spots I’ve ever been to with its 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. It’s about 45 minutes from Buffalo Creek and the road is really bumpy up there but it’s only about 1.5 miles round trip to get to the bald and…wow. Go for sunrise.
About 35 minutes away, you can get to the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Waterrock Knob. Again, sweeping views of the mountains. There are the remnants of an old Cessna plane that crashed there many years ago that you can hike to. Look at a map before you go as it’s a little tricky. But the hike to the Waterrock Knob summit is short but steep. Be sure to visit the Visitors Center there as it has some cool information about the area.
This beautiful emerald lagoon is such a nice spot to visit during the summer when you can take a dip in the cold water. Hike a little further up to Mouse Creek Falls for even more beauty. Get there early as the trail is super popular. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Buffalo Creek.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Located only 20 minutes from Buffalo Creek in Maggie Valley, you can go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing here during the winter.
I have yet to explore this lake but it’s on my list. Lake Junaluska is really close to Buffalo Creek, less than 15 minutes away and you can rent kayaks or paddleboards, take a boat tour, walk the trail around the lake or visit the gardens.
A short 40-minute drive over the summer will get you to Smoky Mountain Outdoors where you can choose one of two whitewater rafting routes, a less intense ride for younger kids or a more wild one for older kids.
Towns to Visit
Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge
These two towns are only about an hour and 15 minutes away, which is so perfect because you can enjoy all the cool things to do there and then go back to Buffalo Creek for some rest & relaxation.
This town has a quaint little downtown where you can shop, eat, and explore.
The Biltmore in Asheville
The Biltmore is a half hour away and is easily a day trip. There are the gardens to explore, trails to walk, the House to tour, wine to taste, and the ice cream to eat at the creamery.
If you need more to do, don’t miss our huge guide Kidding Around WNC.
Buffalo Creek Vacations Review
I thought the caboose rental was super cool and my kids loved the loft, game room, and playground. Learning about the buffalo was certainly a highlight and having that unique experience was pretty amazing.
We also got to cuddle with a baby goat and anyone who reads my stories knows that baby goats make me ridiculously happy, so that’s a plus.
I thought the family who runs Buffalo Creek Vacations was just so down-to-earth, welcoming, and happy to answer all my questions. They have been in the hospitality business for about 19 years and have worked extremely hard to make the farm and the experience of the guests all top-notch.
And really, you cannot beat the location. There are so many things to do not only on the property but within an hour that you cannot be bored.
Also, the communication from Buffalo Creek Vacation was excellent. I got emails before I was set to go with relevant information. The phone numbers of Cheryl and the other family members on the property are displayed in the caboose and on the front of the shop window so if you need anything at all, the family is easily accessible.
While I’m not a train enthusiast myself, I still really enjoyed the stay, especially the model trains at Agapeland. If you are a train enthusiast, oh my gosh, you won’t want to leave this place!
Booking with Buffalo Creek Vacations
You can find Buffalo Creek Vacations on AirBnB and VRBO but you can also book direct, saving you a lot on fees.
Rates depend upon season and weekend/weekdays and are available to view on their website.
For Kidding Around readers, Buffalo Creek Vacation is offering 5% off their rate when you enter promo code KIDGVL.
Buffalo Creek Vacations
13 Caboose Way, Clyde, NC