The Bighorn Mountains impressively rise over 13,000 feet, casting a shadow over Sheridan County in the last few hours of sunlight. And the geological wonder is more than just aesthetically pleasing.
The mountains provide an abundance of recreational opportunities — plenty for the casual outdoors person and plenty for the full-fledged outdoor enthusiast.
“The Bighorns have a variety of terrain and ecosystems for different types of recreation,” said Sara Evans Kirol, the trails and forest coordinator with the Bighorn National Forest. “… The Bighorns have a diversity of recreation opportunities that all cater to just about anyone’s interest.”
The Bighorn National Forest is comprised of more than 1 million acres of land. Mountain peaks, rivers and streams, dense forest and prairies are just some of the natural attractions in the area.
The lowlands within Sheridan County also foster outdoor activities, such as fishing, boating and rafting the Tongue River, hunting in permitted areas and hiking.
The ranger district — Tongue River in Sheridan and Powder River in Buffalo — helps maintain, repair and improve recreational opportunities. The centers also provide individuals with educational pamphlets to ensure outdoor activities are safe for the individual and the environment.
Brian Boden, a natural resource specialist with the Powder River Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service office, encourages anybody, young or old, locals and new arrivals to utilize the mountains.
“You always run into folks that don’t spend any time up there,” Boden said. “We take it for granted what we have up here. We try and promote as much as we can, but I think it’s such an easy opportunity, and we just take it for granted that the mountains are so close.”
The Bighorn National Forest is just a little over a half-hour drive from Sheridan (32 miles) on paved and maintained roads and an even shorter drive from the communities of Ranchester, Dayton and Big Horn. U.S. Highway 14 and 14A access the northern reaches of the Bighorn National Forest, while U.S. Highway 16 takes care of the southern half.
Whether someone wants to cast a line as the sun begins to set, embark on a long backpacking trip or bring their dinner to find a secluded picnic area just off one of the many Forest Service roads, the Bighorn Mountains and Sheridan County have plenty of options for everyone.