Fall in Sheridan is short, but spectacular. The aspen groves turn a brilliant yellow; elk (and elk hunters) begin to bugle in the high country; and the crisp mornings are a welcome respite from the lingering heat of late summer.
Earlier this month, I spent a Saturday fishing Tongue River Canyon. While the canyon remains one of the most well-used access points in the county, it’s still amazingly easy to get away and enjoy some solitude. The fishing was spectacular as was the fall scenery and I had the entire stretch of river to myself. There were plenty of blue grouse in the open meadows and I lucked out by finding a grove of wild plums to energize my trip back down the trail.
Take advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures we’re experiencing this fall and take off for an outdoor adventure to appreciate the best time of year here in Sheridan County. You’ll be glad you did when October rolls around with cold temperatures and snow flying as we settle in for winter. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
• Paddle Lake DeSmet: Grab your canoe or kayak and head down the interstate 20 minutes to the Shell Creek Exit and the Wyoming Game and Fish “Monument Point and Malcolm Wallop Access Area.” It’s an adventure just to paddle the western shoreline for an hour or two, with sandy beaches and panoramic scenery to match.
• Fish the high-country: Fall in the mountains means that the brook trout are in full spawning colors and eager to attack most dry flies on a warm afternoon. There are countless small streams to explore or stick to the more well-known destinations like East Fork or West Fork of Big Goose Creek or the South/North sections of the Tongue River.
• Check out the new trails on Red Grade: Two new looping trails great for all ages are accessed from the base of Red Grade Road and officially open this Saturday. Expect beautiful views, aspen tunnels and a relatively easy two-mile hike.
• Experience fire ecology: With the recent Sheep Creek Fire that burned in the Tongue River Canyon, it’s an opportune time to get out to investigate. The fire burned less than one-mile from the trailhead and one can still smell the soot and see the impacts a fire has on the landscape.
Still looking for ideas? Choose your own adventure at destinationsheridan.com via the Recreation Map which offers dozens of other unique outings out your back door yet off-the-beaten path.
Colin Betzler is the executive director of the Sheridan Community Land Trust.