Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
|Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Snowfall on the Bighorn Canyon in the North District
|Location||Big Horn and Carbon counties, Montana & Big Horn County, Wyoming, USA|
|Nearest city||Billings, Montana|
|Area||120,296.22 acres (48,682.15 ha)|
|Established||October 15, 1966|
|Visitors||201,010 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
|Website||Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area|
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is a national park unit established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, following the construction of the Yellowtail Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation, that straddles the border between Wyoming and Montana. The dam, named after the famous Crow leader Robert Yellowtail, harnesses the waters of the Bighorn River by turning that variable watercourse into Bighorn Lake. The lake extends 71 miles (114 km) through Wyoming and Montana, 55 miles (89 km) of which lie within the national recreation area. About one third of the park unit is located on the Crow Indian Reservation. Nearly one-quarter of the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range lies within the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
Afterbay Lake located below Yellowtail Dam is a popular spot for trout fishing as well as for viewing ducks, geese and other animals. The Bighorn River below the Afterbay Dam is likewise a world-class trout fishing area. In addition, many archeological and historical resources serve to complement the area's natural features. There are visitor centers and other developed facilities in Fort Smith, Montana and near Lovell, Wyoming.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area has four historic ranches within its boundaries:
- The L Slash Heart Ranch was owned by Caroline Lockhart who was a famous journalist and novelist in the early 1900s. Two of her books were made into silent films in the 1920s.
- The Mason-Lovell Ranch was operating during the open range days of the 1880s; the ranch once had 25,000 cattle roaming the entire Bighorn Basin.
- The Cedarvale Ranch located in the ghost town of Hillsboro, Montana, was a dude ranch owned by native New Yorker Grosvener W. "Doc" Barry where people came to vacation. Visitors included Doc Barry's friend President Teddy Roosevelt, but attracting other vacationers proved more difficult.
- The Ewing-Snell Ranch is a former family ranch that was started by Erastus Ewing. Erastus came west to get rich in gold mining, but the gold fields yielded little gold. Erastus instead tried his hand at ranching.
North of Lovell along the Sullivan Knob's Trail is one of the national recreation area's more unusual claims to fame. There a visitor can stand in a certain spot on the canyon rim, shout across the canyon and then hear a "triple echo" in reply. The Bad Pass Trail runs through the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The trail was used by prehistoric people for thousands of years. During the winter, the prehistoric people would travel southward on the trail to reach the caves in the canyon, and when spring arrived they would travel northward for the hunting grounds in what is now Montana. The trail is considered a cultural or sacred site, so nobody is allowed to walk or drive on it. The mountain men used the trail when they were in the area around two hundred years ago, and they are the ones who named it the Bad Pass Trail because of its ruggedness. Jim Bridger, the famous mountain man, was the first person to float down the river and leave a record of his trip. He said the rapids that existed in 1825 when he made the trip seemed to be like "foam."
- "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
- "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- "Management: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
- "The National Parks Index 2009-2011". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
- "Wild Horses." Billings Field Office. Bureau of Land Management. United States Department of the Interior. May 2, 2011. Accessed 2011-05-18.
- "Federal Register, Volume 70, Issue 104 (July 1, 2005), pp. 31345-31353". Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
- Maffly, Brian (2007). "Battle on the Bighorn: Holding back water for Bighorn Lake recreation could doom the world-class trout fishery downstream.". Montana Outdoors. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- "Nature & Science: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
- "Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Lowell, Wyoming". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Clayton, John. "The Old West’s Female Champion: Caroline Lockhart and Wyoming’s Cowboy Heritage". Wyoming State Historical Society, WyoHistory.org. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Albert, Saige. "Historic ranch makes its mark: Mason-Lovell influences Big Horn Basin cattle". Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Doc Barry and the Voyage of the Edith". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "The Erastus Ewing". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Sullivan's Knob Trail: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
- Edwin C. Bearss. "Historic Structures Report and History Research Study" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
- Edwin C. Bearss (1970). "Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area-Montana-Wyoming History Basic Data Volume 1" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-10.
- Edwin C. Bearss (1970). "Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area-Montana-Wyoming History Basic Data Volume 2" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-10.
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