• Red cliffs descend into the water of Bighorn Canyon

    Bighorn Canyon

    National Recreation Area MT,WY

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Frequently Asked Questions – North District
Where can you use live bait on the river?
At the Afterbay boat launch before you reach the cable.

Are there boat rentals on the lake?
Yes, at the North end, Ok-A-Beh Marina rents pontoon boats that hold 8 to 10 people. The South End gives boat tours.

How do you get to Ok-A- Beh Marina and the boat launch area from the town of Fort Smith?
Drive through the town until you reach a brown National Park sign that reads: Big Horn Lake 10 Miles and turn left. Follow the road all the way to the boat launch area and marina parking lot.

How deep is the lake?
Approximately 500 ft at the deepest points.

Are there restrooms on the lake?
Yes, docks with floating restrooms are located every few miles in the canyon.

What do people fish for in the lake?
Mostly Walleye, different kinds of Trout, Yellow Perch, Small Mouth Bass, Ling, and Catfish.

What are the campsites like on the lake?
They are well maintained sites that contain a fire ring with a grill, along with a picnic table. All Campsites on the lake are boat in only.

How do you get to the Afterbay boat launch Area?
Drive through Fort Smith until the road widens into a right side turning lane. Turn right and follow the road until you cross the Afterbay Dam, take the next right onto a gravel road which leads to the boat launch.

How do you get to the Visitor Center at Yellowtail Dam from Fort Smith?
Drive through the town, keep on the same road. You will pass the Bighorn Canyon NRA Headquarters building on the left. The main road goes uphill a couple miles and will put you right in parking lot for the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center.

How tall is the dam?
525 feet, 15th largest in the Nation.

Where can you see the Crow Tribe buffalo pasture?
Looking west across the canyon at Four Winds on top of Ok-A- Beh road. Use binoculars.

What is there to do in Fort Smith?
Camp, fish, hike, boat, sightsee, visit the dam.

Where’s a good place to eat in Fort Smith?Local restaurants include Ok-A-Beh Marina, Polly’s Place, Big Horn Trout Shop.

Can you see Fort C.F. Smith?
No. All that remains is the mound that the fort was built on and it is currently on private property.

How's the weather on a typical summer day?
It’s usually sunny with warm temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Occasionally, afternoon thunderstorms roll through, but only last a short while.

 

Frequently Asked Questions – South District
How far is it to Yellowstone?
It is approximately 126 miles to the North East Gate and will take 2.5 to 3 hours to drive by car. The road has switchbacks and is quite steep at times.

Where are the wild horses?
The best places to see wild horses along the park road is near Crooked Creek and Mustang Flats. You will drive through part of The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range roughly between the Crooked Creek Contact Station and the Ewing-Snell Ranch. A trip into the Pryor Mountains in late June- early July will allow even more horse viewing at Penn’s Cabin.

Do you have any campgrounds? Do you have any sites with hookups?
Yes. There is camping at Horseshoe Bend (the only campground with hookups) and Trail Creek, close to Barry’s Landing. Medicine Creek Campground is a hike in or boat in only campground. It is a three mile hike from Barry’s Landing.

Where can we get a good view of the canyon?
Devil Canyon overlook. Turn right out of the parking lot, go two miles and turn left on WY 37, it will take you out to the park. After about 15 miles you will see a sign for Devil Canyon Overlook. Turn right and follow to the parking lot.

When is Highway 14A open?
It is usually open from mid-May (usually the week before Memorial Day Weekend) until late-November. US Hwy 14A is known as the Medicine Wheel Passage, and is connected to the Big Horn Scenic Byway (US 14) at Burgess Junction.

Where are the boat ramps located?
Horseshoe Bend and Barry’s Landing both have boat ramps off the main park road (Hwy. 37). You can put a boat in at the South causeway off US14A or Kane Ramp North of 14A. The ML Ramp is south of Mason Lovell Ranch. There is also a primitive boat ramp in the Yellowtail Habitat on the Shoshone River, southeast of the Gams Place (Picket Fence), see habitat map.

Is there a direct highway to north end of the park?
No. There are several routes to the north end of the park. On average, it takes about three hours travel time to access the north end.

How long does it take to get by boat from the south end to the north end of the lake? Depending on where you start and your boat speed, anywhere from one to two hours.

Did You Know?

Bighorn Canyon rock layers as seen from the lake, photo by Sharon Genaux

While the height of the rim of Bighorn Canyon varies dramatically, the entire length of the rim is the same rock layer – the Madison Limestone. More...