The American Bison, or buffalo as they are commonly called, are the largest members of the cow family. Massive herds once inhabited the Great Plains of North America. Their range originally spanned from Buffalo NY to central Oregon, and from Texas to Alaska. The animals were hunted by American Indians for their meat and fur. Because of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century, bison nearly became extinct. The last buffalo hunt closed a chapter of the American West. By 1890, it was thought that not a single buffalo roamed in the wild. Teddy Roosevelt and the American Bison Society set up a few reserves to save the species. By 1930, buffalo ranches had eased concern the species would vanish.
In his western saga The Last of The Plainsman, Zane Grey dramatically portrays the conversion of Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones from hunter to preserver of the American Bison. Jones gained worldwide attention with his exploits of capturing, taming and breeding the threatened buffalo. Although buffalo are not native to Arizona, in 1905 “Buffalo” Jones brought some of these animals to the Kaibab Plateau near Bright Angel Point (now part of Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim). The buffalo were sold in 1926 to the State of Arizona and taken to nearby House Rock Valley. In the mid-1940s, the Arizona Game and Fish Department moved some the buffalo to the agency’s newly acquired Raymond Ranch (now called Raymond Wildlife Area).
Today, there are quite a few places that offer a unique opportunity to view these majestic animals. SEE: Best Places to See Buffalo