Benjy Davis (Quinn Redeker), owner of the Medicine Bow general store, returns home with his friend the Virginian from a card game and finds his wife Liz (Maggie Mitchell) being sexually assaulted by Hobey Kendall (Robert Karnes), a dealer in hides and furs. If not for the Virginian's intervention, Benjy would have killed Kendall. The next morning, Emmett Ryker and the Virginian set out for Kendall's place to confront him over the incident and find Benjy returning from Kendall's ranch. He tells them Kendall was not at the ranch but a man with the name Jonah McIntosh (John Cassavettes) on his saddle told him Kendall was away and would be back soon. Going back to the ranch with Benjy, The Virginian and Emmett find Kendall shot dead. Emmett discovers a bullet has been recently fired from Benjy's gun and arrests him, even though Benjy claims he fired the shot at a coyote he encountered on the way to the ranch. Benjy is convicted, at least partially on the Virginian's testimony, and sentenced to death. Benjy has told the Virginian that Jonah McIntosh was dressed like a mountain man and that he had a bundle of beaver pelts on his saddle. The Virginian deduces that the only place where beaver can be trapped is in the Wind River Mountains 150-200 miles away and he sets off to try and find Jonah. From a trader (William Fawcett), the Virginian learns a Jonah McIntosh stopped at the trading post, sold him a bundle of beaver furs and that the man had dealt with Kendall. Heading to McIntosh's place, he is jumped by three men led by McIntosh's cousin, Beamer (Richard Devon). They take him to McIntosh's cabin where he lives with several other mountain men and their families, including his younger brother Noah (Michael Burns). Jonah claims to be a god-fearing man who killed Kendall in self-defence over a business dispute and so he will not return to Medicine Bow. Also, if he lets the Virginian go, he would return with a posse so he has to kill him too even though he apologizes for having to do so. That night however, the Virginian manages to slip his bounds, retrieve his weapons, grab Jonah and two horses and escape with Beamer, Noah and other mountain men in pursuit. The next night they come across Runty Bojohn (Dub Taylor), a starving trapper who seems harmless enough, but he manages to steal the Virginian's gun and take their horses and in the process, shoots the Virginian in the arm. The Virginian is forced to continue the escape with Jonah on foot and in desperation tries crossing the desert as a shortcut. Beamer and the trackers leave young Noah camped behind to wait for them. The Virginian gets delirious from the heat and his wound and the pursuers would have caught them if they were not come upon by a band of Shoshone Indians who take the two men to their camp. There, a beautiful young Indian widow, Hapamawa (Pilar Seurat), nurses the Virginian back to health and clearly has designs on him but he resists her advances. Eventually, with Hapamawa's help, the Virginian escapes on horseback with Jonah again his prisoner. Meanwhile, Runty Bojohn has come upon Noah McIntosh, and as he did earlier with the Virginian, takes advantage of his hospitality and then tries to steal his belongings. A gunfight ensues and Runty is killed and Noah is wounded. Noah is found by the Virginian as he has doubled back to throw off their pursuers and the Virginian trends to Noah for which Jonah is very grateful. The Virginian makes a deal with Jonah – if Jonah will return to Medicine Bow and admit he killed Kendall, thus freeing Benjy Davis, the Virginian will stay and nurse his brother until he can bring help. Jonah agrees saying that if they hang him in Medicine Bow he will come back to haunt the Virginian. Jonah keeps his word and they all end up in Medicine Bow. Benjy is freed and Noah is saved. The doctor tells Jonah that the reason his brother survived was due to the Virginian's care. The Virginian and Jonah shake hands at the fadeout.