The drive from South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone National Park is long and tiring. There are a lot of miles between the two popular destinations, and few travelers think to stop in between, perhaps believing that there is nothing else in Wyoming of interest.

But don’t be afraid to stop for a night, enjoying the beauty that Wyoming has to offer you.

Part of the beauty of Wyoming is encapsulated in Bighorn National Forest, a sprawling destination that spans 1.1 million acres of land in the mountains.

This varying landscape is worth a day or two of exploration.

On top of the rugged mountainous landscape, there are grasslands and meadows, rolling hills and valleys carved by glaciers. Set aside at least a day to explore a less populous Wyoming destination for a special vacation.

 

Sights and Things to Do at Bighorn National Forest

 

In a forest that spans so many acres, there are tons of trails to hike and views worth stopping for. These picks have been highlighted for their beauty and magnificence. Most of these views have not changed for decades, as they are formed by natural weather conditions and protected by the Wyoming Wilderness Act in 1984.

 

Cloud Peak Wilderness

This wilderness area was designated in the same Wilderness Act that created Bighorn National Forest. Over 180,000 acres, this wilderness area is named for the most famous peak in the Bighorn Mountain Range.

Backpackers hike here every year, trekking the more than 100 miles of trail to soak up the Wyoming beauty in this area. View clear blue waters in the hundreds of lakes that cover these lands, or go horseback riding.

No matter what fun you are having at Cloud Peak, make sure to follow the rules of Leave No Trace camping to protect this natural playground.

 

Scenic Byways

Drive through the scenic byways in Bighorn National Forest to get the best views available. Start with Bighorn Scenic Byway, spanning 45 miles and open year-round. Follow US Highway 14 from Sheridan for views of valleys and sights from a spectacular waterfall (Shell Falls).

Cloud Peak Skyway is also 45 miles long, but this road is along US Highway 16. Drive through the southern Bighorn Mountains for views of snowcapped peaks. Most peaks of Cloud Peak Mountains have snow year-round, including the summer. This route has no shortage of sights to check out, like Powder River Pass, Tensleep Canyon, and Meadlowlark Lake.

Finally, Medicine Wheel Passage is a scenic byway along US Highway 14A, open only from Memorial Day to mid-November. This drive rises quickly from a basic to steep canyon land, featuring views of alpine meadows. Along this route, you will see Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark, but be careful! This drive is so steep it is not recommended for pulling trailers with grades above 10% for parts of the drive.

 

Find a Bighorn RV Campground 

 

At Bighorn National Forest, you will find 30 campgrounds (and four group campgrounds). Most of the options available at Bighorn campgrounds allow for RVs, but make sure you double check. Some of these campgrounds may be more difficult to reach, particularly at campgrounds around the Medicine Wheel Passage with those steep mountains and 10% grades.

At Big Horn Mountains Campground, you can get mountains views right from your campsite. There are RV sites at this campground with pull-throughs, hookups, water & electricity, and dump stations available. Billed as the closest campground to the Bighorn Mountains, this is as close as you can camp to the mountains themselves. With this proximity to mountains and everything your RV needs, camping here is both fun and smart.

Lakeview Bighorn is another option for RV campers. Available seasonally, this campsite is near Meadowlark Lake, which covers 325 acres. You are able to boat here, as well as canoe. This site is particularly attractive to fishers, who will find rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and brook trout in these waters.

Also, you can find Lakeview Bighorn Campground on the west side of the scenic Cloud Peak Skyway drive.

To find additional sites for RV camping, the National Forest Service maintains a list of campgrounds in the area.

 

Don’t Miss the Sights Offered by Bighorn Mountains

 

Driving past this diverse landscape is something you may regret in the future. If you’ll be in the Wyoming area, schedule some time to spend at Bighorn National Forest.

The sister range of the Rocky Mountains and Bighorn features sites and history that any nature buff or outdoorsman will want to experience for themselves.

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