Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana
Basic information for visitors to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in South-central Montana, near Hardin, to north-central Wyoming, near Lovell.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in South-central Montana, near Hardin, to north-central Wyoming, near Lovell.
The most compelling attraction here is the geology of the canyon, which is several thousand feet deep in places. Naturally, Bighorn Canyon also has plenty of bighorn sheep, and it's the site of the nations first wild horse range, the Bad Pass Trail. The Ok-A-Beh scenic road winds through the park and past several historic ranches. Look for the Bighorn River, located below the Yellowtail Dam. The area was established in 1966.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Boating (rentals, lake marina), fishing, hiking, hunting, ice fishing, skiing, swimming, touring canyon. Facilities: 2 visitor centers: Yellowtail Dam (Fort Smith, MT) and Bighorn Canyon (Lovell, WY); outdoor interpretive exhibits, hiking trails. Bookstores, picnic tables with fire grills. Programs & Events: Canoe trips, interpretive talks, campfire programs (June-Aug.). Mustang Days fireworks at Horseshoe Bend (Sun. before July 4), Afterbay Dam, MT, fireworks (July 4). Tips & Hints: Watch for rattlesnakes and fragile edges near drop-offs. Be aware of and respect Crow Indian Reservation boundaries. Bighorn Canyon is relatively undiscovered treasure, with few visitors there at any time.
FOOD, LODGING & SUPPLIES
Camping: 5 campgrounds ($5) in the park: Afterbay Canyon (29 sites; vault toilets), Black Canyon (17 boat-in sites; vault toilets), Horseshoe Bend (54 sites; flush toilets), Medicine Creek (6 boat-in or hike-in sites; vault toilets), Trail Creek (12 sites; vault toilets). In Yellowtail, MT: Cottonwood Camp (3 mi north of Fort Smith, tel. 406/666-2391; 16 RV sites, tent-camping area, 19 cabins; $10-$65; flush toilets, showers, hook-ups). 13 Hotels: None in park. In Hardin, MT: Super 8 (201 14th St. W, tel. 406/665-1700 or 800/800-8000; 63 rooms; $70), Lariat Motel (709 Center Ave., tel. 406/665-2683; 18 rooms; $44). In Lovell, WY: Super 8 (595 E. Main, tel. 307/548-2725 or 800/800-8000; 32 rooms; $63). X Restaurants: In the park: grill and staples at Ok-A-Beh Marina. In Hardin, MT: Purple Cow (Rte. 1, off Rte. 47 at north end of town, tel. 406/665-3601; $6-$8), Lariat Country Kitchen, (721 Center Ave., tel. 406/665-1139; $5-$7; no dinner Sun.). & Groceries: None in park. In Fort Smith, MT: Yellowtail Market (Parkdale Ct., tel. 406/666-2333). In Lovell, WY: Red Apple (9 E. Main St., tel. 307/548-2224)
FEES, HOURS & REGULATIONS
Entrance fee: $5 per vehicle. Montana or Wyoming state fishing license required. No hunting in restricted areas. Leashed pets only. No motorized or mechanical vehicles off paved or dirt roads. Park open daily. Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center open Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily 9-5. Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center open Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily 8-6; Labor Day-Memorial Day, daily 8:30-5.
HOW TO GET THERE
North Unit (Montana side) 1 mi west of Fort Smith; South Unit (Wyoming side) 14 mi northeast from Lovell. Closest airports: Billings (90 mi from North District), Cody, WY (50 mi).
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, North Unit (Box 7458, Fort Smith, MT 59035, tel. 406/666-2412, fax 406/666-2415,). Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, South Unit (20 U.S. 14A E, Lovell, WY 82431, tel. 307/548-2251, fax 307/548-7826). Hardin Area Chamber of Commerce (15 E. 4th St., Hardin, MT 59034, tel. 406/665-1672). Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce (287 E. Main St., Box 295, Lovell, WY 82431, tel. 307/548-7552).
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Basic information for visitors to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in South-central Montana, near Hardin, to north-central Wyoming, near Lovell