Big Horn Mountains: The best kept secret of the West
Located in north-central Wyoming, the Big Horn Mountains are a sister range of the Rocky Mountains. The Big Horns extend from the plains and Great Basin area of Wyoming northward into south central Montana.
Conveniently located half-way between Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park , the Big Horns are a great vacation destination in themselves. No region in Wyoming is provided with a more diverse landscape -- from lush grasslands to alpine meadows, from crystal-clear lakes to glacial carved valleys, from rolling hills to sheer mountain walls.
Statistics and Offerings
The highest peaks of the Big Horns are located in the Bighorn National Forest, which stretches over 1,100,000 acres. Cloud Peak reaches 13,167 ft in elevation (4,013 meters above sea level). And Black Tooth Mountain reaches 13,005 ft (3,964 meters). Over a dozen other mountains in the Big Horns reach over 12,000 ft (3,650 meters).
Scenic, Historic Byways
There are several scenic byways which pass through the Bighorn National Forest, all of which provide the traveler with scenic driving. The Bighorn Scenic Byway ( US 14) connects the cities of Sheridan and Greybull and includes 45 miles of scenic mountain driving. The Cloud Peak Skyway (US 16), connecting the city of Buffalo and the town of Tensleep, crosses the southern Bighorn National Forest and offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks along its 45 mile length. The Medicine Wheel Passage (US 14A) boasts the largest ancient medicine wheel site in North America en route. This route rises sharply from the Bighorn Basin near the city of Lovell and travels 25 miles through high alpine meadows to Burgess Junction, where it intersects with the Bighorn Scenic Byway.
Over Thousands of Years - 1,000 Uses!
For thousands of years, human cultures have inhabited the Big Horn region, using the mountain resources to enhance their quality-of-life. Evidence of these earlier cultures being the largest ancient medicine wheel site in North America .
Anglo Incursion Over 100 Years
The Big Horn River , flowing along the west side of the Forest, was first named by American Indians due to the great herds of Bighorn Sheep at its mouth. Anglo explorers Lewis and Clark conferred the name to the adjoining mountain range in the early 1800s.
During the 1800s the Big Horns provided beaver pelts, medicinal plants, teepee poles, lumber for nearby Fort Phil Kearny, abundant big game, summer grazing for cattle and sheep, and clear, cool water. On February 22, 1897, Grover Cleveland signed legislation creating the Bighorn National Reserve -- in recognition of the value these mountains hold for the American people and their livelihood.
Today, much remains the same in the pristine Big Horn Mountains. The Big Horns still provide vital natural resource uses and products such as wood, water, livestock forage, and minerals.
To quote one of our favorite sources on the Big Horns, "Of equal or even greater worth are the intangible resources that move our mind and soothe our souls -- wildlife and wildflowers, magnificent scenic vistas, mountain trails, fresh air and the freedom of wide open spaces."
Statistics of interest about the Big Horns:
• The Bighorn National Forest is 80 miles long and 30 miles wide, covering 1,115,073 acres
• Cloud Peak Wilderness Area has 189,000 acres
• Over 1,500 miles (2,419 Km) of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding
• Multiple reservoirs and mountain lakes
• Miles and miles of some of the best trout streams in North America
• Home to majestic elk, whitetail and mule deer, coyote, black bear, lynx, golden eagle, mountain lion, the occasional wolf
• Great hunting to be had out of Snowshoe Lodge (bow, rifle, or camera)
• Three scenic byways and 14 picnic areas
• Snowmobiling paradise with over 400 miles of groomed snowmobile trails
Snowshoe Lodge and the Upper Hideout provide the best food and lodgings in the Big Horns. See, Accommodations .