Eric and I could spend an eternity in the Bighorn Mountains. Technically, we almost did, but that story is worthy of its own blog post (coming soon!). As you’ve seen in the previous posts, we have undoubtedly seen some amazing places sine leaving Boise (Idaho, Caribou-Targhee, West Yellowstone, and Shoshone). Having said that, nothing compares to the Bighorn Mountains. It’s difficult to explain, as it may not seem as impressive, grand, or majestic on the surface. But, the Bighorns are unrefined, wild…intimate even. They have captured our hearts and souls.
The Bighorns don’t feel like vacation, they feel like—Home.
Driving the Bighorn Mountains
Van Morrison (our van) had a little taste of the Bighorns well before we did. While seated comfortably, we heard her cursing us under her breath as she begrudgingly hauled Eric and I up that ruthless, 20% grade climb. We were good to her though, giving her several rest breaks along the way.
Really, the drive up was astounding. I’m not sure I’ve ever climbed that high in such a short period of time with such incredible views.
Due to a quiet, minimally trafficked road, we were shocked to find the forest freckled with RVs and travel trailers everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean absolutely everywhere! We probably saw over 100 of them tucked behind trees, mountain sides and in every other nook and cranny available. In fact, when the nooks and crannies ran out, they were just piled in wide open spaces. We were a little nervous about finding a little haven of our own.
The interesting thing is that despite the number of rigs present, only 2-5% of them were occupied! It was as if folks just dropped their trailers, scooping up all the fantastic spots, then left! It was a big off putting at first. Especially since there is technically a 14 day limit. Apparently, it is not well enforced.
Either way, that first night, undecided if we would stick around, we headed for higher ground as it always seems less busy. We lucked out and found our own private view!
I’m so glad we did! Wide open spaces, 360 degree views, and void of human contact. It was perfection.
That evening, as the sun was lulling itself to sleep, the sky was decorated with vibrant colors as far as the eye could see.
It was one of those moments that fill your heart with joy and for one split second, everything in the wolrd makes sense. Then, just as quickly as the sun sets, it’s gone.
“One clear moment, one of trance-Sanober Khan
One missed step, one perfect dance
One missed shot, one and only chance
Life is all…but one fleeting glance.”
The next day we set out to find a more permanent home. We scored a sweet spot among the rocks with loads of sunshine to keep the solar panels happy. The temperatures have been in the mid-upper 70’s during the day so far, so we were more than willing to accept a treeless domain.
Exploring Among the Rocks
Hiking the Bighorn Mountains
As per usual, I almost immediately went exploring once the setup was complete. That is probably my favorite thing about moving around to new areas, discovering those hidden gems that are so easily passed up at driving speed.
Just below camp, I discovered a dry creek bed with enough gravel that I felt good about exploring it without damaging any of the vegetation in the area.
It was full of wildflowers galore. Mostly yellows freckled with specs of purple here and there. The rocks were scattered about and full of character. The best part of the expedition turned out to be the countless butterflies fluttering about. Over an hour passed as I roamed the creek bed and tried to catch a few quiet moments with the Lepidopteras.
Here are a few photos from my time here:
Exploring the Bighorns by Bike
Another one of our favorite ways to explore the area is by bike. There are several hidden trails around here which adds to the lure of the Bighorn Mountains!
Here are some photos from our first day out:
With a little effort and a small crash on my part, we found an excellent resting place for lunch alongside a river and a major rock outcropping.
With no time to explore the entire 15 mile trail, we turned around and headed back home. Considering it was all uphill, it was probably a good move. At over 8,000 ft, Eric and I were still acclimating to our environment.
Overall, it was an awesome day of riding and exploring!
A Sunset…On the Rocks.
Yes, another fantastic sunset but this time among the rocks. Eric and I went for a stroll not far from camp. It’s amazing what you see with just a slight change in your perspective. I felt like I was living inside of a fairy tale. Now that I say it out loud, I feel like our lives have become just that! I suppose that is the way you should feel when you are living your dream!
Thoughts from the Bighorn Mountains
I know the photos do not do this area justice, but hopefully, I’ve given you a glimpse into why we love the Bighorns.
Putting an area like this into words is beyond challenging as there are no words, just feelings that must be experienced first-hand to fully appreciate.
One thing I can say is this, we never feel like passive observers while here. On the contrary, we get a small glimpse into what it may have been to be a rugged explorer in a time before modern conveniences. The more time we spend in Wyoming, the more respect I have for the Native Americans and the skills it would have taken to not just live, but thrive in these lands.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time friends…