Camping at Bighorn National Forest
Overview of Bighorn National Forest
Bighorn National Forest is a sprawling expanse in northern Wyoming, United States. It spans across over 1.1 million acres of forested hills, alpine meadows, and vast, dramatic mountain ranges. Established in 1897 as a reserve, it has become a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a variety of recreational activities like hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and skiing in the winter.
Camping in Bighorn National Forest
- Bighorn National Forest boasts several developed campgrounds with amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, potable water, and restroom facilities.
- Campsites usually fill up on a first-come, first-served basis, so arriving early is often advised, especially during peak season.
- Some campgrounds allow reservations, which can be made via the Recreation.gov website.
- For those seeking a more primitive experience, the forest offers dispersed camping options outside of designated campgrounds.
- Dispersed camping is permitted in most parts of the forest, but some areas may have specific regulations to preserve the environment.
Rules and Regulations
- Follow the "Leave No Trace" principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
- Always check for current fire restrictions, as these can change depending on conditions.
- Be aware of wildlife and practice safe food storage to avoid attracting bears and other animals.
Activities and Attractions
Hiking and Backpacking
- The forest features an extensive trail system for all levels of hikers and backpackers. Notable trails include those leading to Cloud Peak Wilderness.
Fishing and Boating
- The Bighorn Mountains have numerous streams and lakes that offer excellent trout fishing.
- Some larger reservoirs and lakes also provide opportunities for boating and water sports.
- The diverse ecosystems of Bighorn host a variety of wildlife, such as deer, elk, moose, and numerous bird species.
- Always keep a safe distance from wildlife and respect their natural habitats.
- Weather in the mountains can be highly unpredictable with sudden storms, especially in the spring and fall. Always be prepared with appropriate gear.
- Snow can occur even in the summertime at high elevations, so check the forecast and pack accordingly.
- Some areas are at high altitude, so give yourself time to acclimatize and watch for signs of altitude sickness.
- Purify water from natural sources before drinking to avoid waterborne illnesses.
- When engaging in water activities, wear life jackets and take precautions against cold water temperatures.
- Cellular service may be limited or nonexistent in remote areas, so plan accordingly and let someone know your itinerary.
- Carry a map, compass, or GPS device as it's easy to get lost in the wilderness.
Access and Travel Logistics
- The Bighorn National Forest is accessible from nearby communities like Sheridan, Buffalo, and Greybull, Wyoming.
- Scenic Byways such as the Bighorn Scenic Byway and the Cloud Peak Skyway offer stunning drives through the forest.
- Check road conditions before your trip; mountain roads can be narrow, steep, and may close seasonally.
Respecting the Environment
- Pack out all trash and waste, leave what you find, and respect the natural resources to help preserve the forest for future generations.
- Be mindful of invasive species and ensure that your gear is clean before entering the forest to prevent the spread of non-native plants and pests.
In summary, Bighorn National Forest provides a wealth of opportunities for camping and outdoor adventure amidst breathtaking natural beauty. Responsible stewardship and preparation are key to a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting this remarkable area.