With 1.1 million acres of rocky peaks, dense evergreen forests, wildflower-laden meadows, and rolling grasslands, Bighorn National Forest is an explorer's paradise. Come in the summer to hike and bike 1,500 miles of trails, fish in cool mountain streams, and rock-climb the legendary limestone cliffs of Tensleep Canyon. If you're ready for more, try scenic driving, boating, and wildlife watching. Winter snows cover the landscape in sparkling powder, turning the mountains into a hotspot for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. With so much to do, the forest is more than a stopover between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone; it's a destination in its own right.
Everywhere you go in Bighorn National Forest, you're greeted with a new landscape that's even more beautiful than the last. RV camping is a great way to maximize your time in the wilderness and minimize driving. For even more convenience, rent an RV through RVshare. Simply choose the right model and size for your crew near your home or in a city near the forest.
If you're planning to fish or rock climb in Tensleep Canyon, Leigh Creek Campground makes a convenient home base. Pull your RV into a site under the pines; there are no hookups or water, but the beautiful location more than makes up for the lack of services. The campground is usually quiet, and the vault toilets are open for campers' use. Sites here are $16 per night.
Situated near the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, Lake View Campground offers lovely sites on the shores of Meadowlark Lake. Each spot has its own fire ring and picnic table, and you'll have access to drinking water, trash bins, and vault toilets during your stay. Nightly rates are $18.
It's hard to imagine a more picturesque setting than the one you'll find at Shell Creek Campground. Set high in the mountains next to a rushing creek, this spot delivers beautiful views and excellent fishing a few steps from your site. Expect basic services, including trash collection, vault toilets, and drinking water. Sites here are $17 per night.
With full hookups and a convenient location southeast of Big Horn National Forest, Big Horn Mountains Campground offers comfort and convenience. Take advantage of the hot showers, large bathrooms, and laundry area after a day in the great outdoors. Many sites offer a beautiful view of the mountains. Rates vary; call for details.
The Porcupine Falls Trail is a short hike with a big reward — at the end, you'll see a spectacular view of a waterfall as it thunders 200 feet over the side of a cliff. This hike offers a nice challenge, climbing steadily through the forest. Along the way, the views of the rocky cliffs and dense forests are nothing short of spectacular.
Length: 0.5 miles
Hike to an ancient Native American site on the Medicine Wheel Trail. The route is a rough but wide road that takes you from the parking area to the site itself. It sits at more than 9,600 feet above sea level, so leave plenty of time if you're not accustomed to the elevation. At the end of the trail, you'll come to an ancient medicine wheel that's between 200 and 3,000 years old. The site is sacred, so make sure to pay attention to the rules along the path.
Length: 3 miles round-trip
The Misty Moon Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Bighorn National Forest, so it's a great long day hike if you prefer a bit of company. The trail starts out at the West Tensleep Lake Trailhead and climbs consistently through the forest. After a few miles, you'll reach Lake Helen and Lake Marion. The most beautiful part of the route is located above the tree line — high-elevation meadows stretch into the distance, and Misty Moon Lake is framed by stunning rocky peaks.
Length: 7 miles one way
Intensity: Moderate to Strenuous
In a national forest that's filled with stunning hikes, the Tongue River Canyon Trail is a standout. The trail winds through grasslands and into the canyon itself, offering picturesque views of limestone cliffs and the occasional river crossing. Keep an eye out for the hidden cave along the path. The entire trail is more than 11 miles long; for a great day hike, walk 3.5 miles to Box Canyon before turning around.
Length: 11.2 miles
If you're limited on time, head straight for the Steamboat Point Trail. The majority of the trail is steep, and some sections require you to scramble over the rocks. At the top, you can see for miles over the mountains and forests.
Length: 1.6 miles round-trip
The James T. Saban Lookout Trail gains just 200 feet of elevation, making it one of the fastest and easiest trails in the region. It leads to a fire lookout that perches on top of the rocks, offering 360-degree vistas. Make sure to check out the interpretive signs that explain the history of the lookout and its role in protecting the forests from fires.
Length: 0.4 mile
The Sherd Lake Loop Trail is another of the top hikes in Bighorn National Forest, thanks to its challenging but accessible terrain and beautiful scenery. The trail runs into the Cloud Peak Wilderness, taking you through dense forests and up a rocky slope to the lovely Sherd Lake. Bring your fishing rod or a picnic and plan to hang out on the shore before completing the trip. The trail ends at a forest road, but you can take the 1.8-mile South Fork Ponds Trail back to the trailhead for a complete loop.
Length: 7.8 miles
Bighorn National Forest is a haven for a variety of plants and animals. On any given hike, you can expect to see bald eagles and marmots; in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, moose sightings are common. If you're interested in nature, check out the Bighorn Scenic Byway, Medicine Wheel Passage, and Cloud Peak Skyway. While you're out on the trails, look for the geocaches that are hidden outside of the designated wilderness areas.
Bighorn National Forest is famous for its exceptional trout fishing. Check out the South Tongue River, the Little Bighorn River, and the south fork of Clear Creek. Many lakes, including West Tensleep Lake, are also open to anglers.
When the sun goes down in the forest, step away from your campfire and look up at the sky. This part of Wyoming has little to no light pollution, and the views of the stars are some of the best in the country.
Address: 2013 Eastside 2nd Street, Sheridan, WY 82801
Fee: Entry fee $0
With miles of hiking trails, multiple lakes, pristine streams, and varying landscapes, Bighorn National Forest is filled to the brim with outdoor adventures. RV camping is a wonderful way to experience developed campgrounds and off-grid wilderness areas. Enjoy a full day in the outdoors and a relaxing night under Wyoming's wide-open skies.