Bighorn National Forest
|Bighorn National Forest|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
The Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark in the National Forest
|Location||Sheridan, Big Horn, Johnson, and Washakie counties, Wyoming, USA|
|Nearest city||Sheridan, WY|
|Area||1,107,571 acres (4,482.18 km2)|
|Established||February 22, 1897|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
Bighorn National Forest is located in northern Wyoming, United States and consists of over 1.1 million acres (4,500 km²). Created as a US Forest Reserve in 1897, it is one of the oldest government-protected forest lands in the U.S. The forest is well east of the continental divide and extends from the Montana border for a distance of 80 miles (130 km) along the spine of the Big Horn Mountains, an outlying mountain range separated from the rest of the Rocky Mountains by Bighorn Basin. Elevations range from 5,000 feet (1,500 m) along the sagebrush and grass-covered lowlands at the foot of the mountains, to 13,189 feet (4,020 m) on top of Cloud Peak, the highest point in the Big Horn Mountains. Around 99% of the land is above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). The forest is named after the Bighorn River, which is partially fed by streams found in the forest. While the river and forest used the name "Bighorn" all in one word, the mountains associated with the forest are referred to as the "Big Horns". Streams in the range are fed primarily by snowmelt and snowmelt mixed with driving rainfall.
Within the forest is the Cloud Peak Wilderness area in which no motorized or mechanical equipment is allowed. The only access into the 189,000 acre (765 km²) wilderness is on foot or horseback. There are 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of trails in the forest, along with 32 improved campgrounds, lodges, and three scenic vehicular byways. U.S. Highway 14, also known as the Bighorn Scenic Byway, crosses the middle of the 30-mile (48 km) wide forest. Medicine Wheel Passage (U.S. Highway 14A) crosses in the north passing the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, while the Cloud Peak Skyway (U.S. 16) crosses the highest pass in the forest (Powder River Pass 9,677 ft/ 2,950 m) and is located in the southern section of the forest.
The forest is primarily lodgepole pine, along with several species of spruce, fir, and aspen. While grizzly bears have not inhabited the forest since the early 20th century, black bears are widespread. Other large mammals include elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and moose. Numerous lakes are found within the forest and most are naturally stocked with trout and at least 100 other fish species. Meadowlark Lake is a popular recreation area created by the construction of a dam built by Company 841 of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. Water quality sampling from the lakes shows the highest acid rain deposition of any mountain chain in the Rockies.
Sage Grouse in Bighorn National Forest
- "Land Areas of the National Forest System". U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- "The National Forests of the United States". ForestHistory.org. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- wohl, Ellen; cooper, david; Poff, LeRoy; Rahel, Frank; Staley, Dennis; Winters, David. "Assessment of Stream Ecosystem Function and Sensitivity in the Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming".
- Forest Service
- USFS Ranger Districts by State
Further reading 
- Georgen, Cynde. In the shadow of the Bighorns: A history of early Sheridan and the Goose Creek valley of northern Wyoming. Sheridan, Wyoming: Sheridan County Historical Society, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9792871-7-6
- "Bighorn National Forest". U.S. Forest Service. Archived from the original on 16 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-08.
- "Map of Bighorn National Forest". U.S. Forest Service. Archived from the original on 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2011-08-08.