Exploring the Bighorn Mountains

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.

One of several switchbacks with a view of the valley floor far below.
A stunning and almost unbelievable drive up!
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly get any higher up…you do!

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.

Camp 1

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
One missed step, one perfect dance
One missed shot, one and only chance
Life is all…but one fleeting glance.”

-Sanober Khan

Camp 2

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:

The main FS roads were decent, but washboard in many areas.
Venturing off the main drag, we found an 8 mi trail straight downhill. We did 2 down/back.
A narrow trail that led to some rock outcroppings that had peaked our curiosity!
Self indulging with a photo of my ruggedly handsome husband on his trusty steed 🙂
The rocks are much larger than they appear.
A rough, rocky ride but oh so worth it!
Eventually, we dismounted the bikes and walked to more safely admire the views.

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.

Eric admiring the views.
Eric munching on a cheese stick. I’m too captivated to eat. There are pictures to take! haha
Numerous shades of green.
An abandoned ranch in the middle of nowhere offered us a short rest.

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.

Another chance to admire the views.
Wheels wet = feet dry!
Hoping for a little rain to cool of from that big uphill ride, but all we got were a few drops.
A picturesque creek

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…

3 Responses

  1. Debbie

    Oh my gosh Jenni!!! What a fabulous place you’ve discovered! I absolutely loved your pictures. Those rocks looked amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Jenni

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the pictures. I’ve had a blast photographing and documenting our journey again. Thanks for reading!!

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