Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

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OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 36 minutes which we have divided into 33 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 3-18 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the land and wildlife of the recreation area. Sections 19-31 cover the back of the brochure which consists of planning your visit through text and maps, as well as activities you can do while visiting. Section 32 covers Accessibility and 33 covers More Information.

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OVERVIEW: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, located in both Wyoming and Montana, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. At more than 120,000-acres, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is situated 93 miles south of Billings, Montana at the edge of the Bighorn Basin. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area was established in 1966. Each year, approximately 200,000 visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be had at Bighorn Canyon. The vast, wild landscape of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world and experience the wonders of this extraordinary place. Versions of the Official Park Map and Guide are available in braille and large print and can be found at the visitor centers. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

The front side of the brochure starts with an overview of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area with images and text. The brochure continues with text on the challenges of the land. The bottom third of the page includes images and text of wildlife and landscapes of the area. 

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IMAGES and TEXT: Bighorn Canyon

IMAGE 1 of 2: Canyon

DESCRIBING: Horizontal color image of a canyon.

SYNOPSIS: The canyon has tall rock cliffs on both sides with water between. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The canyon walls display many layers of brown, red and grey rock. They rise vertically into plateaus at the top. Dark green vegetation grows intermittently along the shoreline and on the plateaus. The dark grey green river meanders through the canyon. The sky is a light hazy baby blue with faint horizontal clouds. 

CAPTION: Bighorn Canyon at twilight from the Sullivans Knob trail 


IMAGE 2 of 2: Bighorn sheep

DESCRIBING: A horizontal color photograph.

SYNOPSIS: This image presents four bighorn sheep with narrow, long snouts,  strong jawbones and full jowls at the base of the neck. Two in the center of the image face each other, one squinting into the sun and the other with a dark, open eye. Their prominent beige-colored horns are wide at the base and curve like bananas with thick ridges. They each have greyish-tan, thick, coarse fur with a white stripe leading to the nose. Their thick short ears point backward behind and under the horns. A dull grey slope extends into the distance.


CAPTION: Bighorn sheep



At first glance, time seems to have stopped at Bighorn Canyon. The lake and steep-sided canyons provide a peaceful setting for those seeking a break from the daily routine. The focus of the area is the 71-mile-long Bighorn Lake, created by Yellowtail Dam near Fort Smith, Montana. Dedicated in 1968, the dam provides electric power and water for irrigation, flood control, and recreational opportunities. Boating, water skiing, fishing, swimming, and sightseeing are the main attractions.

While you enjoy the play of light and shadow on rock and water, contemplate the changes that the land and the life upon it have undergone. Time and water are keys to the canyon, where the land has been shaped by the elements since upheavals of the Earth’s crust formed the Pryor and Bighorn mountains millions of years ago.

For 15 miles upstream from the dam, the lake bisects a massive, arching anticline, exposing fossils that tell of successive times when this land was submerged under a shallow sea, when it was a tropical marsh, and when its conifer forests were inhabited by dinosaurs. Humans arrived here over 10,000 years ago, living as hunters and gatherers. In modern times people have further altered the land.

The park is more than just the lake. It’s a land where wildflowers bloom in spring and is an ecosystem over 200 species of birds call home. It is a story of early life forms adapting to a harsh environment and humans’ search for energy.

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TEXT: A Challenging Land

North American peoples have traveled and made their living along rivers and streams for over 40,000 years. But the Bighorn River was too treacherous and too steep-walled. People lived near the Bighorn but avoided navigating it until after the dam was constructed.

This broken land also challenged the ingenuity of early residents, forcing them to devise unusual strategies of survival. American Indian hunters drove herds of animals into game traps and gathered wild roots and seeds to balance their meat diet. They made clothes of skins, baskets and sandals of plant fibers, and tools of stone, bone, and wood. The many caves of the Bighorn area provided seasonal shelters and storage areas for the Indians and early traders and trappers.

Apsáalooke means “people of the large-beaked bird” to the Crow people. Their reservation surrounds most of Bighorn Canyon. Originally a farming people, the Crow split off from the Hidatsa tribe over 200 years ago. They became a renowned hunting people, described by a participant on the Lewis and Clark Expedition as “the finest horsemen in the world.”

After 1800, explorers, traders, and trappers found their way up the Bighorn River. Charles Larocque met the Crow at the mouth of the Bighorn in 1805; Captain William Clark traveled through a year later. Jim Bridger claimed to have floated through the canyon on a raft. Later fur traders packed goods overland on the Bad Pass Trail, avoiding the river’s dangers.

During the Civil War era, many people crossed the Bighorn River as they took the Bozeman Trail into western Montana. Open from 1864 to 1868, the trail was bitterly opposed by the Lakota (Sioux) and Northern Cheyenne tribes. The federal government closed the trail in 1868 after the Fort Laramie Treaty. Fort C.F. Smith, today on private land, guarded the trail as an outpost. A stone monument commemorates the Hayfield Fight, a desperate but successful defense against Lakota and Northern Cheyenne warriors. In this skirmish a party of soldiers and civilian hay cutters, working three miles north of Fort C.F. Smith, fought for eight hours until rescued by the fort’s troops on August 1, 1867.

After the Civil War, cattle ranching became a way of Iife. Among the huge open-range cattle ranches was the Mason-Lovell (the ML) in northern Wyoming; some of those buildings remain. Dude ranching, reflected in the remains of Hillsboro, was popular in the early 1900s.

The Crow made the transition from hunter-gatherers to ranchers in one generation. In 1904, after 12 years of labor, they completed an irrigation system and opened 35,000 acres of land to irrigated farming. Water was diverted into the Bighorn Canal by a 416-foot diversion dam, moving 720 cubic feet of water per second. Near After bay Camp ground is Bighorn Canal Headgate, a reminder of this human response to the challenge of the land.

Congress established Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in 1966 to provide enjoyment for visitors today and to protect the park for future generations.

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TEXT: Land and Life at Bighorn

The next 12 sections are a mix of text and images encompassing the land and life of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Recreation

DESCRIBING: A square color image,  the first of five pictures in a row, from left to right. 

SYNOPSIS: A medium-sized speedboat heads to the left, leaving a white foam wake behind it. The boat has a dark hull, a white deck and a black canvas top. There are five people onboard. The water is a deep blue, and in the background is a steep-cliffed shoreline of striated orange-red rock. Sloping upward from the rocks are green Mountain Mahogany bushes and low green grass. 



Fifteen hiking trails and 71 miles of lake are just the beginning of the recreational opportunities offered here. Slide your kayak onto the lake as the sun rises to meet water as clear as glass. Feel the water lap against your boat in the evening, as canyon walls begin to block out the sun. Glimpse a peregrine falcon rising from the canyon as you hike to the rim.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range

DESCRIBING:  A vertical color image, the second of five pictures in a row, from left to right. 

SYNOPSIS:  A chestnut brown-colored horse, faces the viewer slightly angled to the left. The animal has strong front legs and prominent kneecaps. The horse's long brown tail swings slightly to the right. A narrow, uneven white stripe runs from its forehead to the tip of the nose, and the rims of its nostrils are white. The horse’s left side is brightly lit by the sun, and its right side is in shadow. The horse is standing on uneven, sloping ground with some medium-sized rocks and grey- green sagebrush. The background is a rocky field, lit bright orange-red by the sun.



In 1968 this area was established to provide a well-maintained sanctuary for wild horses. The herd size of about 120–140 is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and US Forest Service.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Bighorn Wildlife

DESCRIBING: A horizontal color image, the third of five pictures in a row, from left to right. 

SYNOPSIS: There are two bighorn sheep, one in front of the other. Both have prominent, ridged horns curved forward in a semicircle. The one in front faces right in lateral view with his head turned toward the camera. The one behind faces forward with its head turned toward the right. Their fur is a mottled brown, slightly lighter in color around the midsection. The sheep in front has a bright white snout and white rump. The sheep behind peers over the one in front, displaying its white snout in profile. They are standing on uneven tan-colored ground, sloping slightly toward the camera. A juniper bush appears behind the sheep. In the foreground are small tufts of grass and scrub brush.



The wildlife of the Bighorn Canyon country is as varied as the land, which can be divided into four climate or vegetative zones. In the south is desert shrubland inhabited by wild horses, snakes, and small rodents. Midway is juniper woodland with coyotes, deer, bighorn sheep, woodrats, beavers, and porcupines. Along the flanks of the canyon is pine-and-fir woodland with mountain lions, bear, elk, and mule deer. In the north is shortgrass prairie, once home to herds of bison. Many of the smaller animals, like cottontails, skunks, coyotes, and rattlesnakes, are seen often throughout the park. Over 200 species of birds, including many kinds of waterfowl, have been seen here.

Each plant and animal species is adapted to the particular conditions of temperature, moisture, and terrain within one or more of the park’s four primary zones.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Yellowtail Dam

DESCRIBING: A vertical color image, the fourth of five pictures in a row, from left to right. 

SYNOPSIS: An aerial view of a curved dam. In the upper left is the deep blue water of the reservoir it forms. Above the water is a steep, angular shoreline showing layers of earth-tone colors. The dam drops straight down to a river of water heading away from the dam towards the lower right. To the right of the dam, bright orange rock layers slope gently downwards. To the left of the dam, a road snakes downward to a building at the bottom. The gently sloping hills surrounding the dam are covered with close-cropped, dull green foliage. 



The dam honors Robert Yellowtail, former Crow tribal chair and reservation superintendent. This 525 feet high, arch-type dam creates one of the largest reservoirs on the Missouri River tributary system.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Management Area

DESCRIBING: A square color image, the fifth of five pictures in a row, from left to right. 

SYNOPSIS: A small body of calm blue water, in the foreground and across the water are tall, dense cattail reeds. In the distance clusters of cottonwood trees rise above shorter foliage. A mix of greens and browns indicates a change of seasons. There is a hazy grey sky above.



Riparian, cottonwood forest, shrubland, and wetlands provide habitat for white-tailed deer, bald eagles, pelicans, heron, waterfowl, wild turkeys, and other species. The area is managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department through agreements with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation.

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TEXT: Mason-Lovell Ranch

A.L. Mason and H.C. Lovell built a cattle ranch headquarters here in 1883. Cattle roamed the Bighorn Basin in a classic open-range operation.

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TEXT: Hillsboro

A 1.0-mile roundtrip trail leads to the site of Grosvenor William Barry’s Cedarvale Guest Ranch and the 1915–45 Hillsboro post office.

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TEXT: Lockhart Ranch

Reporter, editor, and author Caroline Lockhart began ranching at age 56. Well-preserved buildings give a feel for ranch life. The trail is a 0.5-mile roundtrip.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Ewing Snell Ranch

DESCRIBING:  A wide, horizontal color photograph.

SYNOPSIS: In the foreground are three large pieces of red, rusting, two-wheeled iron farm field equipment. On the left is a  tiller, in the middle is a machine with fine wire tangs extending to the ground, and on the right is a machine with a metal bowl-shaped seat, and a cutting tool, tilted in an upright position to the left.  Corral fencing, made of light-colored, weathered split wood rails supported by tilting wooden posts, crosses behind the equipment. The dirt in the corral is reddish brown.  In the foreground there are short scrub grasses, some light green and others dried brown. In the background, mountain foothills are mostly covered in dark green vegetation, with some exposed rock, and mounds of red dirt, brightly lit by the sun.  In the distance, steep mountains with some exposed rock are covered with green vegetation. The sky is a bright deep blue with streaks of clouds.

CAPTION: Ewing-Snell Ranch



This site was in use for nearly 100 years.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Two Eagles

DESCRIBING: A horizontal, rectangular panorama color photograph.

SYNOPSIS: A vast, flat field with scattered rocks and boulders with tall mountains on the horizon. A grouping of rocks is carefully placed in a half-circle, forming a tipi ring. Between the rocks are patches of brown earth, short green grasses, sagebrush, and cacti with two small yellow flowers closer to the foreground. Red layers of rock rise up to a pyramid-shaped outcrop with vegetation of grey-green sage, and low, dark-green bushes. At the peak is exposed red earth topped with low green bushes. A similar-sized green hill covered with low green shrubs is to the left. An additional pyramid-shaped outcrop of rock is in the distance to the right. Behind the pyramids are steep mountains stretching across the width of the picture, with green foothills topped with grey rock. Horizontal white cloud formations hang in front of and behind the mountains against a deep blue sky.

CAPTION: Two Eagles Interpretive Trail



Bighorn Canyon has been home to many generations of people. Tipi rings, or stone circles, and cairns are some of the more visible reminders of the people who occupied the area. The number and density of the tipi rings on Bighorn Canyon’s landscape are a strong indication that people used the area domestically for thousands of years. See over 25 of these tipi rings and a buffalo jump along this 0.25-mile interpretive trail.

Before the arrival of the horse, life changed little here for thousands of years. Small family groups wintered in caves near the canyon bottoms. In early spring they moved out of the canyon bottoms in search of plants and small animals, and in summer they moved to the highlands in search of game and summer-maturing plants. Large groups gathered in fall for a communal bison hunt.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Devil Canyon Overlook

DESCRIBING: A square color photograph of a river cutting through Devil Canyon

SYNOPSIS: Front to back, a calm, wide body of water flows through a steep-walled canyon curving slightly to the right. The lower three-quarters of the layered canyon walls are mostly grey, with hints of light pink and purple. The upper quarter of the canyon walls is alternating pink and brown in color. The flat plateaus of the canyon feature vegetation in shades of light and dark green. On the left side, purple rocks are exposed among the vegetation. In the far distance, dark grey-blue mountains extend across the width of the picture, topped with a thin strip of sky capturing the pink and gold colors of the rising sun. Purple, dark blue, and light blue clouds extend across the horizon.

CAPTION: Devil Canyon



Here, the canyon crosscuts the gray limestone of the Devil Canyon Anticline, a 1,000-foot-high segment of the fault blocks that make up the Pryor Mountains.

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IMAGE: Bighorn Mountains

DESCRIBING: A long, rectangular color photo stretching across the width of the brochure.

SYNOPSIS: Sweeping across the width of the picture, steep, sunlit, tan-colored mountains are topped with grey foliage which forms a sawtooth pattern alternating between light and dark. The wide foothills of the mountain feature alternating tan and gold earth, some in sun, some in shadow, dotted with green trees. In the middle distance on the left is a plateau, flat on the right, rising to a hill on the left. It is covered in grey-green foliage interspersed with green juniper. The foreground is flat, covered in grass and ringed with green vegetation. Patches of white snow spread across the width of the foreground in shadow. Heavy clouds, lit in a bright peach color, cover most of the mountain range. To the left are bright blue openings in the sky.

CAPTION: Bighorn Mountains


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OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The backside side of the brochure goes over the map and what to see and do when visiting. The top of the map displays a small map that has different roads and information needed to know before visiting the recreation area. Below taking up two-thirds of the page is a closeup map of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Following the map are boating tips including buoy markers. Finishing the page is a section labeled what to see and do. 

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MAP and TEXT: Plan Your Visit

DESCRIBING: A square, color regional map that is inset on the upper left corner of the main park map. 

SYNOPSIS: The map has a North-South orientation. The Southernmost city on the map is Greybull, WY. The Northernmost city is Billings, MT. The driving distance between them is 126 miles. The Easternmost city is Sheridan, WY. The Westernmost city is Cody, WY.  The driving distance between them is 147 miles. The Bighorn River divides the map approximately in half north to south, with Bighorn Canyon in the center along the river.  Two-thirds of the Recreation Area extends North into Montana.  The lower third of the recreation area extends South into Wyoming.  The Crow Indian reservation takes up the center of the inset map on the Montana side. The park is sandwiched between the Custer Gallatin National Forest on the west and Bighorn National Forest on the southeast.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is adjacent to the Bighorn National Forest, Custer Gallatin National Forest and the Crow Indian Reservation.  The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, depicted in green, is located 47 miles northeast of the North District in Ft. Smith, MT. These areas are color-coded on the map, beige for the reservation and light green for the forest districts. The recreation area is dark green and the water is blue. A long, narrow, meandering river passes through a dam, creating a crescent-shaped lake. The river continues north. 

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area has two districts that are separated by a three-hour drive. There are seven major roads that provide access to the area, including 90, 94, 212, 310, 313, 14 and 14A.

CAPTION: Inset map of the region around Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area


No road connects the park’s north and south ends directly. To get to the park’s south end, take US 310 from Billings or US 14A from Sheridan. To reach the north end, take MT 313 from Hardin. To visit both, use the map at left to choose a route.

You can rent cars in nearby communities, but no public transportation serves the park. Scheduled airlines serve Cody and Billings. Unattended aircraft landing strips are at Fort Smith and Cowley.

Contact the park in advance to plan your visit, especially if you are bringing a group.

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TEXT: Facilities and Services

Be sure to stop at the Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center at Lovell (open daily) or the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center near Fort Smith (open seasonally).

Hotels, motels, service stations, restaurants, and grocery and sporting goods stores are in Lovell and Hardin. At the park’s north end, Fort Smith has fishing outfitters but very limited grocery services.

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TEXT: Private Property

The Crow Indians own property within the boundary of the national recreation area. Tribal lands are closed to the public. Check with a park ranger for more information.

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MAP: Explore Bighorn Canyon

Beware Private Property: The Crow Indians own property within the boundary of the national recreation area. Tribal lands are closed to the public. Check with a park ranger for more information. Access can only be granted by the landowner. 

DESCRIBING: Color navigational map with legend, titled "Explore Bighorn Canyon"

SYNOPSIS: The map of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area brochure has a North-South orientation.  The southernmost city is Lovell, WY.  The northernmost feature is the Three Mile river access.  The distance between is approximately 39 miles in a straight line but 177 driving miles. The Westernmost feature is the Custer Gallatin National Forest.  The Easternmost feature is the Crow Indian Reservation. The distance between is approximately 90 miles in a straight line but 123 driving miles.  On the legend, one inch equals five miles. The legend includes four different shaded and color-coded rectangles to designate land management areas. There are 10 different square icons. These icons include wheelchair accessible, ranger station, interpretive trail, boat ramp, marina, lifeguard swimming area, picnic area, campground, National Forest campground, and snack bar. 

The Bighorn Lake divides the map approximately in half north to south. Two-thirds of the Recreation Area extends North into Montana. The lower third of the recreation area extends South into Wyoming. The beige color that depicts the  Crow Indian Reservation takes up three-quarters of the Montana portion of the map. The park is sandwiched between the Custer Gallatin National Forest and the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range on the west and Bighorn National Forest on the East. The Crow Indian Reservation occupies approximately 80 percent of the map on both sides of Bighorn Lake.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: On the North District, near Fort Smith, MT, the northernmost feature on the map is the Three Mile Access area on the east side of the Bighorn River. There is a boat ramp icon.  The Hayfield Fight Monument is on private property.  It is represented by a white square.  It is at the junction of 313 and the road leading to Three Mile Access. The site of Historic Fort C.F. Smith is on private property.  It is represented by a white square.  A blue dotted line representing the Historic Route of the Bozeman Trail goes across the map, east to west, through the Fort C.F. Smith site.  A yellow dot represents the community of Fort Smith. The Afterbay Dam and river access area are marked by a boat ramp icon.  It is on the west side of the Bighorn River.  Park headquarters is marked with a ranger station icon. The Afterbay Lake and campground has two icons, one for campground and one for picnicking.  It is on the east side of the park headquarters building. The Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center is at the end of the road on highway 313.  There is a wheelchair-accessible icon at that location. The Yellowtail Dam is represented by a black square. An irregularly u-shaped road leaves from highway 313 and ends at Ok-A-Beh Marina at Bighorn Lake just south of the Yellowtail Dam.  Map icons at this location are a boat ramp, marina, lifeguarded swimming area, and snack bar.  Frozen Leg, the boat-in-only picnic area is on the west side of the lake.  Black Canyon is six miles south of Ok-A-Beh Marina in a side canyon ending in a boat-in-only campground.  

There are no roads or services in the 50 miles between the North and South Districts. 

On the South District, north of Lovell, WY, the Lockhart Ranch is at the end of the park road and has limited access.  Medicine Creek Campground is a boat-in only campground located on the west side of the lake, southeast of Lockheart Ranch.  Barry's Landing is south of Medicine Creek. Icons at Barry's Landing include boat ramp, picnic area and campground.  Hillsboro is just west of Barry's landing and has limited access.  The Ewing-Snell Ranch is south and west from Hillsboro. Just south of there is the Two Eagles Interpretive Trail with icon.  A short one mile spur road from the main park road leads to Devil Canyon Overlook.  The Wyoming Montana Stateline is south of Devil Canyon.  Horseshoe bend has icons for boat ramp, marina, lifeguarded swimming area, picnic area and snack bar.  The Crooked Creek Ranger station is the last feature with icons on the park road.  The Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center, with wheelchair access icon, is the first feature on Highway 14A which continues in an easterly direction to the Bighorn National Forest.  Kane is on the west side of Bighorn Lake.  The Mason-Lovell Ranch is on the east side of Bighorn Lake.  Highway 14A transitions into the Bighorn National Forest. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel, 33 miles from Lovell, is located off a three-mile spur road from 14A.  Porcupine and Bald Mountain are across 14A from each other and marked by campground icons.  

There are 20 tributary creeks, one coulee and one canal that flow into both sides of the lake. Bighorn Mountain Range is on the east and the Pryor Mountains are on the west. 

The Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat, located east of the park road, north of Highway 14A, and south of Horseshoe Bend, is shaded by forward-slash diagonal lines.  The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range is shaded by back-slash diagonal lines and overlaps Custer Gallatin National Forest and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.  The Crow Indian Reservation, shaded in beige, is marked "No Trespassing" in red. 

CAPTION: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Park map with points of interest.

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IMAGES and TEXT: Boating Tips

IMAGE 1 of 4: Diver's Flag

DESCRIBING: Red rectangle. 

SYNOPSIS: Thick white line diagonally crosses the red rectangle from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.  

CAPTION: Diver's Flag

IMAGE 2 of 4: Swimming Area

DESCRIBING: Orange diamond

SYNOPSIS: Diamond outlined in thick orange. A thick orange cross in the middle creates four white triangles. 

CAPTION: Swimming Area

IMAGE 3 of 4: Warning Buoy

DESCRIBING: Orange diamond

SYNOPSIS: Diamond outlined in thick orange with a white diamond interior. 

CAPTION: Warning Buoy

IMAGE 4 of 4: Control Buoy

DESCRIBING: Orange circle

SYNOPSIS: Circle outline in thick orange with a white circle interior. The wording "5 MPH" is in orange in the center of the white circle. 

CAPTION: Control Buoy


Get the park’s boating brochure and map before you head for the water; they show boat ramps, boating facilities, navigational markers, and campgrounds for Bighorn Lake. Read and heed regulations for boating safety on the lake. 

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IMAGE and TEXT: What to See and Do

DESCRIBING: A horizontal rectangular color photograph

SYNOPSIS: Eastern Tiger swallowtail butterflies cluster near each other on the ground. Their wide-spread wings are light yellow with black tiger stripes. The damp ground is dull grey, scattered with small pebbles. There are larger grey rocks with green plants in the background.

CAPTION: Eastern tiger swallowtails



Films and exhibits at both the Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center and Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center highlight park activities, natural features, and history.

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TEXT: Boating

Boating enthusiasts will find a marina, snack bar, camp store, and boat ramp at Horseshoe Bend and Ok-A-Beh. Ramps are also at Afterbay Dam and Barry’s Landing. In summer all watercraft must go through the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Stations. If mechanical problems develop while you are on the lake, stay with your boat; hail other boaters and ask them to notify a ranger. Carry both day and night signaling devices. Do not try to climb the lake’s steep canyon walls.

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TEXT: Camping

Camping is restricted to designated sites in developed areas. It is also allowed in the backcountry and below the highwater mark along Bighorn Lake. Fire restrictions during periods of high fire danger may close certain areas to camping. Check with a ranger for the restrictions on fires and backcountry camping.

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TEXT: Hiking

Hiking is available in the national recreation area and in nearby forests. Ask at the visitor centers for more information.

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TEXT: Hunting

Hunting is allowed in designated areas in accordance with state laws. Trapping is prohibited.

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TEXT: Fishing

Fishing in Montana or Wyoming requires the appropriate state fishing license. The Bighorn River provides excellent brown and rainbow trout fishing. Sauger, ling, and smallmouth bass abound in Bighorn Lake. The most popular fish is the walleye, a gourmet’s delight. Try winter ice fishing around Horseshoe Bend.

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TEXT: Regulations and Safety

Regulations and Safety: Check the park website for firearms regulations. Pets must be on a leash. Do not dispose of trash or waste into area waters; all vessels must have a waste receptacle on board. Carry a first-aid kit as a precaution against poisonous snakebites.

Federal law protects all plants, animals, natural, and cultural features, and archeological sites. Collecting is prohibited.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information go to a visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website. Service animals are welcome in the park.

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OVERVIEW: More Information

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

MAILING ADDRESS: PO Box 7458 Fort Smith, MT 59035

PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 20 Hwy. 14A East, Lovell, WY 82431

PHONE: 307-548-5406


Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. Learn more at

National Park Foundation. Join the park community.

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