We noticed Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on the map when we were looking at our route from the Wapiti Valley in Yellowstone National Park up to Montana.
A little more research showed it to be the third-largest canyon in the US, behind the Grand Canyon and Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.
Just based on that data, it was promptly added to the route for a few days.
The NRA is a long skinny area based along the Bighorn River, and hence the Bighorn Canyon.
The southern half sits in Wyoming, and the northern half sits in Montana.
Along the western edge sits the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range, and this spills over into the NRA.
There were a few interesting spots on the eastern side such as Natural Trap Cave, Armpit City, and Bighorn Cavern, but the time to head south and get over there is pretty prohibitive unless you’re dead-set on getting there.
Our guess is that most folks use the area for watersports, boating and fishing.
There are several interesting historic sites such as the Ewing Snell ranch, Cedarvale Ranch, and the Lockhart Ranch that take you back to the times of hardy people willing to tough out the brutal winters out here.
We don’t think this is one worth going out of your way for, but if you’re doing Yellowstone and coming out the east side, or if you just have to go-see-do everything – it’s a beautiful place to spend a few days.


This building at the Ewing Snell Historic Ranch site is tucked in beneath a rippled ridge.

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade - Lockhart Ranch in Bighorn Canyon NRA
Inside the blacksmith building at the Lockhart Ranch

L Bar Heart

L Bar Heart
The Lockhart Ranch logo embedded into a huge stone fireplace

Up The Canyon

Up The Canyon
Heading up the canyon to the Hillsboro Townsite and Cedarvale Ranch

Red Rocks

Red Rocks at Bighorn Canyon NRA
A jumble of red rock sticking up near our campsite at Horseshoe Bend.

Golden Hour

Golden Hour
Golden Hour hits at the Devil’s Canyon Overlook

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