Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

In A Nutshell

Getting Around

The North end of Bighorn Canyon is surrounded by the Crow Indian Reservation. Please respect their land and stay on the road, or on the water, except in areas that are open to travel.

The South end can be traversed by auto or boat. Hiking, bicycling and horseback riding are other ways to enjoy this end of the recreation area.

Visitor Centers

Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center

Open All Year
Open From Memorial Day to Labor Day: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Open From Labor Day to Memorial Day: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Located 11 miles south and west of the south entrance to Bighorn Canyon in the town of Lovell, Wyoming at the junction of Highways 14A and 310.

Open all year except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Years Day.

Special Programs:
Films on request
"The Land of the Bighorn"  20-minute
"Mustangs on the Mountain" 15 minutes
"Medicine Wheel" 15 minutes

Relief map of Bighorn Canyon and the surrounding areas. Some geological, historical and photo exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area.

Available Facilities:
Picnic Area
Nature Trail
Books and other items available for sale through Western National Parks Association


Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center

Open From Memorial Day to Labor Day 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


Fort Smith, Montana. Continue through the town of Fort Smith and past the government housing, NPS Headquarters and the Bureau of Reclaimation building. Continue up the hill to the parking lot for the Visitor Center


Special Programs:
A variety of films are shown upon request.

-Construction and Workings of the Yellowtail Dam.
-The Unique Geology of Bighorn Canyon
-Robert Yellowtail, Crow Tribal Leader
-Crow Tribe and Famed Leader Chief Plenty Coups
-History of Bighorn River and Bighorn Lake
-Fishing Bighorn Lake.

Available Facilities:
Books and other items available for sale through the Western National Parks Association.

The visitor center is wheelchair accessible.



Afterbay Contact Station

Hours may vary depending on staffing.


Fort Smith, Montana.

Special Programs:
"The Land of the Bighorn" film (20 min.) is available for viewing.

Available Facilities:
Books and other items for sale through Western National Parks Association.

Crooked Creek Contact Station

Hours may vary depending on staffing


On Highway 37, just past the south entrance into the park.

Display on four historic ranches found in the Recreation Area. Map of the park.

Available Facilities:
Restrooms available from sunrise to sunset. Ranger Station is handicapped accessible.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center, Fort Smith, Montana
Open: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Check locally for weekend hours in May and September. Closed the rest of the year.

Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center, Lovell, Wyoming
Open daily throughout the year.
Memorial Day through Labor Day
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Labor Day through Memorial Day
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

Crooked Creek Ranger Station, near Horseshoe Bend turnoff
Hours may vary depending on staffing

Afterbay Contact Station, Fort Smith, Montana
Hours may vary depending on staffing


Getting There

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 use 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.

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.

Public Transportation

None available.


The North end of Bighorn Canyon is semi-arid receiving 18 to 20 inches of rain annully. The South end is in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains and is a high desert with average rainfall from 6 to 10 inches annually. The average temperatures are consistant throughout the park with summer highs in the 80s (F) and 90s (F), lows in the 50s (F) and 60s (F). Summer temperatures can peak over 100 degrees. High winter temperatures range in the 20s and 30s and low temperatures average in the 10s (F) and 20s (F). Winter temperatures can drop below 0 (F) with extreme wind chill factors.


Fees & Reservations

Vehicle Entrance Fees

$ 5.00 - Day

$30.00 - Annual

Entrance Fees into Bighorn Canyon are $5.00 per day. An annual Pass specific to Bighorn Canyon can be purchased for $30.00, good for one year from the month of purchase.

Commercial Tours

1 - 6 passenger $ 25.00

7 - 25 passenger $ 40.00

26 + passenger $100.00

Interagency Annual Pass

The $80 Interagency Annual Pass provides entrance or access to pass holder and accompanying passengers in a single, private non-commercial vehicle at most federal recreation sites across the country. Pass is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. The pass is not valid for Expanded Amenity fees such as camping or parking at Mt Rushmore.

Interagency Senior Pass

The $10 Interagency Senior Pass (62 and older) is a lifetime pass available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Pass is available to purchase in-person only and with appropriate documentation.

Interagency Access Pass

Free lifetime pass available to citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. who have been determined to be blind or permanently disabled. Pass is available only in-person and with appropriate documentation.

The above passes replace the Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access Passports as well as the National Parks Pass. These passes will remain valid until they expire or are lost or stolen. The above passes can be obtained at the Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center in Lovell, Wyoming, the Headquarters office in Fort Smith, Montana or during the summer months at the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center, the Afterbay Contact Station or the Crooked Creek Contact Station. Cash, checks or credit cards are acceptable forms of payment. You can also go online at This interagency pass brochure gives a good explanation of the new passes.

Automated fee machines are located at the south and north entrances to Bighorn Canyon. You may only purchase a daily pass or a Bighorn Canyon Annual pass there. When you purchase a Bighorn Canyon Annual Pass at the automated fee machine, you need to replace the receipt with a decal for your vehicle. Those decals can be obtained at the locations listed above, by bringing in the receipt and exchanging for the decal. Up to 3 decals can be issued for the annual pass.

For more information, please contact the fee coordinator at 307-548-5402.