Section 9: Trip Five

The Bighorn Canyon drive and return road from Lovell

 

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Beginning: 44.840718, -108.331533
     Ending: 44.891913, -108.469337
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This trip begins by turning off US-310 on the east side of Lovell and taking US-14A east. You pass by the Bighorn National Park Information Center to a junction at mile #49. Here you can continue east on US-14A toward the Bighorn Mountains.

Turn north on W-37 and you head toward Sykes Mountain and the Pryor Mountains in Montana. Here you can see Little Sheep Mountain to the southeast. At mile #1 you cross the Shoshone River and the road swings northeast for a bit and past a couple of roads going east into the Yellowtail Wildlife Unit. The road turns back to the north after a couple of miles and you can see Little Mountain off to the east. At mile #9 W-37 ends at a junction. Here the Crooked Creek Road turns west to US-310 at Cowley. (See option below.)

Continue north into the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. One mile further, the road to Horseshoe Bend turns east. Stay on the main road traveling between Sykes Mountain and the Pryor Mountains.

The road now begins to climb up past cedar trees and saltbush and enters the Wild Horse Range. (Very nice drive.) Three miles from the area boundary is the Montana state line. You then pass by a side road going east one mile to the Devils Canyon Overlook. (Great view of the confluence of Porcupine Creek and the Bighorn River.)

As you continue north, the road travels between the canyon and the Pryor Mountains. After about four miles, you leave the Wild Horse Range and cross Layout Creek. (Beautiful string of cottonwoods here.) Three miles further is a junction. Here the main road drops down along Trail Creek and past some campsites to Barry's Landing. The pavement ends on the road going north. (This road enters the Crow Indian Reservation and I do not know the accessibility along this route.)

OPTION: The Crooked Creek Road to Cowley

The Crooked Creek Road heads west away from Sykes Mountain and follows the creek along the foothills of the Pryor Mountains and enters part of the wild horse range. After about two miles, you pass by a road going north to the fish hatchery. Continue on the Gypsum Road as it leaves Crooked Creek and begins following Gypsum Creek west along some gray bluffs to another junction. Here Road-7.5 cuts south over the bluffs and rejoins the main road. (This is a short cut IF the road is dry!) Stay west on the Gypsum Creek Road for four miles to a third junction. Here you can take a BLM road northwest into Montana and hit US-310 north of Frannie, Wyoming.

Turn south along a razorback ridge and you pass several roads going east and west. After about four miles you come to a "Y" in the road. Here Road-9 turns southeast to US-14A between Lovell and Cowley. Stay southwest on Road-7.5 Along this stretch you can see Carter Mountain to the south and Heart Mountain to the southwest, with Rattlesnake Mountain on the left side and Pat O'Hara Mountain on the right side. To the west are the Beartooth Mountains. Six miles south of the BLM junction you hit pavement at the airport turnoff. Continue southwest for three more miles to Cowley.

The drive through the wild horse range and Pryor Mountains is nice. Also nice is the view of Devil Canyon and the Bighorn River.