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Date: May 2, 2010
Contact: Bill Pickett, 307-548-5411

Long before Bighorn Canyon was a National Recreation Area, ranchers were trailing cattle from their winter range around Lovell to their summer range on the Dryhead.  This journey could take several days.  A corral area at Layout Creek was used to hold the cattle overnight, giving cattle and cowboys a much needed break from the dusty trail and a cool drink of water

In 1977, the local Cattleman’s Association and Park Service employees’ moved the Common Corral from Layout Creek approximately one mile east to its present location. After 33 years of use, the condition of the corral had deteriorated to the point that portions of it were unusable. The Park Service contributed new material and staff, and 27 volunteers representing 10 local ranches, constructed a new corral made of steel pipe.

The project to rebuild the Common Corral began on site, February 17, 2010 and was completed on March 14, 2010. During this time period, 27 volunteers donated their time, working around their busy schedules as ranchers and farmers. Every rancher who submits a cattle trailing permit to Bighorn Canyon donated a minimum of 20 hours toward the project. Some volunteered gave more than 100 hours of their time over a two month period. In total there were 620.5 volunteer hours contributed and 640 hours contributed by BICA NR staff for a total of 1260.5 accident free hours.  The new corrals will be maintained by the ranchers who regularly use them. 

In addition to the corral itself, Bighorn Canyon staff also rebuilt the large holding area that was constructed with barbed wire and T-posts, as well as the smaller holding area which was rebuilt using steel post and rails.  These holding areas enclose three water facilities, including the new calf watering trough.

The common corral facility is available to the public and is the only place in Bighorn Canyon that visitors can overnight with their horses. If using the facility, please keep in mind the hours of work that went into improving the corrals and that this is an important part of the ranching culture at Bighorn Canyon.  Ranchers trailing cattle have priority in the use of the corrals.

For more information on horse and pack animal regulations, visit our website at   

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Mailing Address:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Headquarters Office
PO Box 7458

Fort Smith, MT 59035


(307) 548-5406

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