"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Scenic Loop Through the Bighorn Mountains

So here we are in Montana and I'm revisiting Wyoming. Sorry for the lag. While we were in Sheridan we took a day trip through the Big Horn Mountains and found a hidden gem that I want to share before I forget. 

We'd driven through the Bighorns before, but we took a slightly different route this time.  From Sheridan we headed north on 90 to Ranchester where we picked up 14 West. That took us through Dayton and gradually up into the mountains, through beautiful verdant foothills...  

,,,punctuated with occasional rock outcroppings,

...and up to the high green plateaus.

There were still pockets of snow here and there...

...but more wildflowers than snow.


After we switched to 14A toward Lovell, we passed a sign for the Medicine Wheel historical and cultural site, but the well defined trail leading away from the sign dead ends at this attractive pile of granite, which is not the Medicine Wheel. Don't be fooled like we were! The actual site is located near the top of nearby Medicine Mountain, which you can see from the sign, if you read it carefully. The site can be accessed by a 3 mile dirt road, followed by a 1.5 mile hike that we didn't think Honey could handle, so we kept going.  It was a nice leg stretch and a beautiful view anyway.

Once over the pass, 14A takes you down the very different west side of the Bighorns. Here the rock is exposed and there is very little vegetation.  This is the view looking back at the Bighorns from near Lovell, WY.

As we continued into the colorful valley, we crossed Bighorn Lake, created by the dammed Bighorn River. Just north of this is the Bighorn Canyon in Montana, which we've heard is another incredible place, but haven't visited. 

In Lovell we turned south on 789 and travelled along this multi-tiered, multi-colored ridge running parallel to the Bighorns.

At Greybull we got back on 14 heading northeast and very shortly came to a tiny sign pointing north toward "Devil's Kitchen."  Never heard of it and had no idea where or what it was, but we thought we'd risk it. The road took us across Shell Creek, through some farmland...

...and into what looked like a no-man's land - a fitting locale for a Devil's Kitchen. We were imagining a little bubbly mud hole somewhere out in the desert, and were ready to let it go, but another sign encouraged us.

What a surprise! The dirt road led us right up to the edge of a hidden badlands, rich with eroded layers of purples, reds, pinks, greys and golds.

Although smaller, it was every bit as interesting as what we've seen in various national parks. It seems to be on private land, but there are no fences, no facilities and no admission fees. 

Honey on location

Continuing on 14 led us through the scenic area around Shell, WY...

...through a canyon, and back up into the Bighorns.

More wildflowers.

It's a very scenic, winding road...

...with a few nice pull-offs for photos.  It also passes by Shell Falls, a gorgeous stop. 

At one pull-off there is an explanation of tree loss in the area caused by a tornado in 1954! Still hasn't grown back.

Back on the east side of the Bighorns it got increasingly green again.  

Our last stop was this dramatic rock outcropping surrounded by rolling green, wildflower covered hills. I was just wishing for a picture like this.

See you back in Montana soon.


  1. What a gorgeous drive! And that Devil's Kitchen is fascinating, what a find!

    1. Don't know if you've spent time in the Bighorn area, but I think you'd really like it. Lots of hikes I think, but not so many breweries.

  2. Oh, my goodness! What a gorgeous autohike! Devil's Kitchen is absolutely beautiful! So glad you shared all this. Looks like a hikers paradise to me:) I know we will be roaming around this area next year. That last photo is perfect! Love it!

    1. Thanks guys. I'm sure there are tons of hikes in the Bighorns and I hope you'll check out the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area and write all about it.

  3. I was trying to determine if Bighorn was one word or two. Turns out sometimes it's one and sometimes it's two. Just found a great website: bighorn mountains.com


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