Finally spring wildflowers in July.
The Big Horn Mountains/National Forest in WY are technically part of the Rockies, but are not literally attached. The area is very similar to the Black Hills of SD but much taller so much steeper. We are on the east side of the mountain range in Buffalo, WY.
We really wanted to visit Big Horn Canyon while we were in this part of the world… but it was going to be a long day, ~ 5 hour driving without stopping. Well we found so many beautiful opportunities to stop that it took more like 10 hrs. + and we had to skip one of the “scenic byways.” We may have to repeat to complete the loop, so hot down here in the valley, mountain elevations are not bad especially for outdoors activities.
As I mentioned, these mountains are very similar to the black hills except the black hills tallest peak Black Elk (formerly Harneys) peak is ~7,200 ft and here the tallest is more like 13,000 with some snow patches in JULY and 100+ temps down in the valleys. The other most noticeable difference is the devastation of the pine beetles.
The devastation in the Black Hills was really sad. There were complete mountain sides that were dead, and most places that there were live pines the ground was covered with dead logs. This picture is from the Black Hills…
Here there is some infection here at Big Horn, but it is nothing like the Black Hills. I hope that is because they understand how to fix or prevent it instead of it being just the beginning of things to come???
It is really crazy how hilly (and large hills) the valley can be and yet look flat from the mountains 5 miles away. Like the Black Hills, the Big Horn Mountains are (at least on the east side) surrounded by rolling plains and relatively flat land then just jut straight up.
The mountains are stunning, but so is the immense valley/plains to the east. We saw our first moose… the picture really is not so clear, but we were able to see it from other angles as we passed and it was a definitely a moose or a very deformed horse.
We stopped to visit a Medicine wheel on Medicine Mountain. It is a Native American ceremonial site, although no one really knows when or who built it, it is still used in various ceremonies. The kiosk states that the formation is at least 250 years old but could be as much as 10,000 years old??? You can see the prayer offerings attached to the fence. The hike was a up and down a forest service road with absolutely no shade. Thank goodness at 10,000 ft of elevation it was comfortable – in the 70s, with snow banks still on the shady side of the road in places. Nellie loved the snow!!!
After descending from the mountains partially at a 10% grade,
We explored Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area, the canyon view was unbelievable!!! and the other views are not too shabby also.
It is really odd how different the eastern side of the mountains is from the western side. Not really sure why, but it does not look like the same mountain range.
Peace and Love!!!!