If you’re staying at Sphan’s Big Horn B&B you have the option to book a guided trip with Ron Spahn. Our trip was definitely one of the highlights of our Wyoming holiday!
Ron plans each trip according to the interests of his guests. Our itinerary was as follows:
~ Over the Big Horn mountains behind the house on forest roads, stopping at a surge dam built by loggers
~ Stop for a picnic lunch at a spot with stunning 100 mile views of the Big Horn Basin
Bighorn Canyon and the Devil’s Canyon Overlook (see separate tip)
~ On really rough roads up into the Pryor Mountains in a (successful) search for wild horses (again, see separate tip)
~ Drive through Crooked Creek Canyon as dusk fell, visiting an ice cave en route
~ Late evening return to Spahn’s back over the mountains, with Ron just managing (thank goodness!) to avoid hitting any of the numerous deer on the road.
The cost of a trip depends on how many people want to go – we paid $95 per person because another couple were keen to join the trip too, but it would have been more if we’d wanted an exclusive tour as Ron charges a $325 minimum. That higher cost would probably make the trip rather expensive in my view but we certainly got great value from what we paid so I’d really recommend you talk to Ron about the options if you want to see the Big Horns through the eyes of a local and get to some places that you almost certainly won’t find or be able to reach on your own.
A local organization, Downtown Sheridan Association has put together a walking tour of local sites. the booklet is available in various locations in Sheridan or you can download the pdf booklet from Downtown Sheridan Association web site.
Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to explore Sheridan itself but I liked the look and feel of the town. There’s an attractive historic area downtown, for which a local organisation, Downtown Sheridan Association, has put together a walking tour. You can download a guide to this from their website.
There are plenty of small shops on Main Street: Western apparel, antiques and collectibles, ropes and horse tack, log furniture, jewellery, books, art and crafts etc.
The photo shows the WYO Theater, which dates from 1923 and is the oldest, operating vaudeville theatre in Wyoming.
Just west of the Big Horn Mountains are the Pryors, the main destination on our day trip with Ron Spahn (see my other Things to do tip for an overview of that tour). These mountains are home to the wild Pryor Mustangs and we were fortunate to have several good sightings of several bands. These wild horses roam over their range in bands from two or three up to 15 head. Usually these bands are a stallion with his mares and colts, but there are also bands of young stallions without mares.
Ron took us across tracks (you couldn’t call them roads!) and led us to some fantastic views, although on the day we visited these views were rather limited by smoke drifting south from a large forest fire near Billings. From my memory, and checking the rough map on the website below, I think our route took us in an anti-clockwise direction up the Sykes Ridge Road (including some of the bumpiest tracks I’ve ever been on); across the meadows at the northern end of this track, where we had our best sightings of the horses; past the big ice cave marked on the map at the northern extremity of the route (and where incidentally there very useful if primitive bathroom facilities); and finally south in the fading light of dusk through wooded Crooked Creek Canyon.
This was an incredible day out. At one point it really seemed as if we were the only people for miles around as we stood on a ridge and gazed east across the Big Horn Canyon and north across the Crow Reservation lands to Montana.
If you have a vehicle that can cope with these tracks and a very good map, or perhaps even better (and safer!) if you’re able to secure the services of a good guide like Ron, the Pryor Mountains are a wonderful way to experience a very different Wyoming.
This is a lovely spot if you’re looking for a break while driving Hwy 14, the Big Horn Scenic Byway. Coming from the west you climb up through dramatic Shell Canyon, with its craggy limestone outcrops, stacks of granite, and sandstone. A little over halfway up you come to Shell Falls, where the water tumbles into Shell Creek. A very informative short trail and about 60 steps down take you close to the water with a great view of the falls. The falls themselves aren’t wide but are fast-flowing – I read that the water drops at 3,600 gallons per second.
Another short and more level trail takes you past a variety of vegetation typical of the area, with more helpful information boards. There’s a small Visitor Center, ample parking and bathroom facilities, but the only refreshments available are cold drinks from a machine.
Open daily 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
The Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is probably one of the most under-rated sights of Wyoming. We’d come across very little information about it while planning our trip and would have passed it by had we not been taken there by Ron Spahn.
The park 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 large lake. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the lake itself, but our visit to the Devil’s Canyon Overlook was enough to convince me that this is an area well worth exploring.
At the Overlook the Bighorn and Devil’s Canyons intersect. The views are dramatic in all directions, including downwards! This spot is only a few miles drive from the main road yet amazingly we had it all to ourselves – I wonder how many tourists drive past not even knowing it is here?
Planning a visit to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area has to be done with care if you want to see more of it than we were able to. The North end of Bighorn Canyon is surrounded by the Crow Indian Reservation and most of their land is closed to visitors, so there are no roads connecting the two ends of the Park.
If you’re planning a visit here you should stop first at the Visitor Center in the nearby town of Lovell. There’s an interesting relief map of Bighorn Canyon which gives you a good overall perspective on the region, plus geological, historical and photo exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area. There’s also an excellent selection of books for sale, especially for anyone interested in Native American history.
If you’re staying at Spahn’s Big Horn B & B you should consider signing up for one of Ron’s evening wildlife drives and steak dinners. There are a number of places Ron takes his guests; this is our story:
Because we visited quite late in the season this was in fact more of a late afternoon and evening event, to take advantage of the daylight. We set off with Ron and one other couple who were staying with him at about 3.30, taking the gravel road behind the house up into the mountains. We explored the high meadows (using quite reasonable forest roads) on the look out for elk, moose and other wild animals. There were fantastic views of the Big Horns from up here which compensated for our lack of good fortune in animal spotting.
We parked up on top and took the short but fairly steep trail down to Little Goose Creek Falls. It was a beautiful spot, and we had it to ourselves! I have to admit the final part of the trail across large boulders defeated me, and I had to enjoy the sound of the falls rather than getting a clear sight of them. But the picturesque setting and the wonderful early evening light were reason enough to take the trip.
On the way back we encountered this group of mule deer by the side of the track. Once back at Spahn’s we enjoyed an excellent steak dinner – all included in the $39 charge for the trip.
Sheridan Wyo Rodeo- (Pronounced as Sheridan Y.O. Rodeo):
It is a fesitival / fair that starts July 12 - 17, 2005 with large Friday morning Parade. A few of the favorite events are the Firday and Saturday night street dance (for adults), Butt Dart Contest, Boot Kick Off, and let's not forget the Wrangler Butt contest. Many local businesses have cook-outs and other activities around town with our Drum and Bugle Corp marching in the parade and then from bar to bar throughout the day.
Mountain Sports, rock climbing, fly fishing, backpacking, horseback riding, camping, snow skiing/boarding.
Bighorn National Forest
Try wetting your fly in the catch and release (artificials only-pinch down your barbs folks-no live bait) area of the North Fork of the Tongue river 3 miles west of Bear Lodge on HWY 14
rock climb in tongue river canyon near Dayton
climb to the top of Steam Boat Rock for great views of the valley off of hwy 14 1/2 way up the mountain.
A 13,700 sq ft mansion that Gov. Kendrick built in 1913 has been made into a whole house exhibit. Open March through December. The mansion's Carriage House has been converted to an 80 seat community theatre.
Fort Phil Kearny -South of Sheridan near the town of Story: the military post was built along the Bozeman Trail.
Site of the Wagon Box Fight also near Story, Wyoming: Chief Red Cloud along with 1000 other indians attacked a handful of settlers.
Connor Battlefield at Ranchester, Wyoming: a past Arapaho Indian encampment is now a park, play ground with some camping sites.
Enjoy the fireworks at the Big Horn Equestrian Center just 13 miles south of Sheridan. The setting is spectacular with the show taking place on the polo field situated in a nook of the Bighorn Mtn foothills. The show is choreographed to music through a local radio station which just adds to the anticipation of each boom. The show usually starts at 10:00PM but get there early so you aren't stuck on the road and miss any of the ground show. Food booths and an area set aside for your own lawn games just add to the fun. The show is FREE. Any donations made go to a local charity.
Well, I guess it depends on the person. I like to go to Dayton just outside of Sheridan. Takes 20 minutes to get there. You can go caving, fishing, camping(very few spots), and hiking. Name of this place is the Tongue River Canyon. As far as other things to do, I will add things in the future as I do them. The shops downtown are fun to go to. I haven't been to the Kendrick Mansion yet. If you come here in the winter, you will probably be interested in going up Big Horn Mtn. to the lodges to do some snowmobiling. Oh yeah, how could I have forgotten this place. Sibley Lake; a place to camp or just visit. You have to go to Ranchester, through Dayton, and straight up the mtn. If I remember correctly the hwy number is 14. You just look for the signs once you get toward the top. It will be on your left hand side. When you pull in you will stay straight (one-way road) and it will end. Go left and follow the road and the take a right toward the end just before it hangs left (basing this on memory, but you will get the general idea when you are there. It will take you down to a parking area. You will see the lake as you go down to it. It is very peaceful there. If you are lucky, you will get to see a mother moose that walks through the campsite in the late afternoon. Stay out of her way. She seems to go through there around 4pm or 5pm. When you are at the lake, take a walk on the boardwalk bordering part of the lake. You will come to a place to sit. If you sit there for at least 30 minutes there will be two chipmunks that will come a long the railing and on occasion they will hop in your lap. They're looking for food and are very curious to see what you are doing. Oh, if you visit there, take a jacket with you, because at 3pm, the sun goes behind the Pines and mountain top and the temperature drops quickly.
Depending on the season in which you visit, i recommend the Kendrick City Park. During the summer months, that is the place to be!
This public park has many, many activities. Everything from walking to tennis. It has an ice cream shop, a public pool(with a water slide), a band shell...local bands hold concerts called Concerts in the Park on Sunday evenings, all ages welcome. It also has a huge playground for kids, bathroom facilities, and can be walked or driven 360 degrees around very easily.