Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Quick Facts

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area


(406) 666-2412

Map Directions

Things To Do


Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, following the construction of the Yellowtail Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation. This dam, named after the famous Crow chairman Robert Yellowtail, harnessed the waters of the Bighorn River and turned this variable stream into a magnificent lake. Bighorn Lake extends approximately 60 miles through Wyoming and Montana, 55 miles of which are held within spectacular Bighorn Canyon. The Recreation Area is composed of 70,000 plus acres, which straddles the northern Wyoming and southern Montana borders. There are two visitor centers and other developed facilities in Fort Smith, Montana and near Lovell, Wyoming. The Afterbay Lake below the Yellowtail Dam is a good spot for trout fishing and wildlife viewing for ducks, geese and other animals. The Bighorn River below the Afterbay Dam is a world class trout fishing area. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is a lesser known treasure waiting to be discovered. It boasts breath-taking scenery, countless varieties of wildlife, and abundant recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, ice fishing, camping, and hiking. Bighorn Canyon offers visitors what few other National Park areas can, that of solitude, serenity, and beauty. In the midst of a chaotic world, this is a truly unique quality.

Map of Bighorn Canyon

Latitude, Longitude: 45.311922, -107.936710



  • Boating

    Float the waters of Bighorn Lake beneath towering walls up to a thousand feet in height. Motorized boats are permitted and there are two marinas in the park which also provide rentals.

  • Bicycling

    Ride the South District park road where you can parallel the ancient Bad Pass Trail or in the North District pedal the Ok-A-Beh road for an intense workout!

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    An auto tour can be done in the South District of the park. It offers a chance to see panoramic vistas, look into the vastness of Devil Canyon, view wildhorses and drive to historic ranches.

  • Camping

    Bighorn Canyon offers five camping areas with over 100 spots, best of all, the majority are free and surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the west.

  • Fishing

    The Bighorn River is a world class trout fishery, unrivaled even in Montana. Bighorn Lake allows anglers the opportunity to catch a diverse variety of fish, including large walleyes.

  • Hiking

    Choose from over 27 miles of trails, ranging from short walks to dramatic overlooks or longer hikes that can take you to a historic ghost town.

  • Historic Sites

    The park has an amazing collection of ranches still kept in their original state. These tell the stories of open range, family and dude ranching.

  • Horseback Riding

    The park allows horseback riding in the South District. Limitless opportunities await riders looking for a true western experience.

  • Hunting

    Hunters are welcome in certain areas of the NRA. Wyoming state hunting laws and National Park Service regulations apply, so hunters should contact the park office for detailed information on regulations.

  • Picnicking

    Kick back, relax and enjoy a meal amidst the grandeur of Bighorn Canyon or by the serene waters of the Afterbay. There are numerous spots on both ends of the park.

  • Water Sports

    Boating, kayaking, and canoeing are all excellent ways to enjoy the colors and scenic beauty of Bighorn Canyon.

  • Wildlife Watching

    See for yourself the largest herd of wild horses in the United States and sight bears in their natural habitat, or view magnificent Bighorn Sheep roaming the high desert.

  • Winter Sports

    The winter months provide opportunities for cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.


Hours of visitor centers vary in the off-season. Be sure to check the website for hours during the winter.



North Entrance - Fort Smith, Montana - Take Interstate 90 to Hardin, Montana. Turn on Highway 313 traveling 40 miles south to Fort Smith, Montana and the North entrance. South entrance - near Lovell, Wyoming - From 14A turn north on Highway 37, continuing 9 miles to South entrance.


Logan International Airport in Billings, Montana for either North or South entrances. Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming for South entrance. Private Planes - The 5U7 airstrip in Fort Smith, Montana is unattended and a day VFR airstrip. There are mountains and power lines surrounding the airstrip. It is suggested that with winds permitting take off should be done on runway 07 and landings on runway 25.

Phone Numbers


(406) 666-2412