OverviewThe Big Horn Range is a member of the Central Rocky Mountain Chain. It sits mostly in Wyoming with it's northernmost foothills descending into Montana. The range runs parallel to, but nearly 100 miles east of, the Continental Divide. It is bound on the west by the Bighorn Basin, one of the lowest in Wyoming, and on the east by the start of the Great Plains.
It is the northernmost range in the Rocky Mountain chain to surpass the elevation of 13,000' (3962m).
The defining feature of the range is Cloud Peak. The crest of the range is managed as the Cloud Peak Wilderness and it is in this area that backpackers and mountaineers set most of their goals.
Sport Climbing is well developed in Ten Sleep Canyon, along US 16 just west of Tensleep, Wyoming. There has also been route activity on Tongue River Canyon, Story Canyon, and Crazy Woman Canyon near Buffalo.
Zones in Big Horns range from arid desert at the base of the range east of Lovell, to the Cloud Peak Galcier, above timberline.
The range has one ski resort, currently up for sale.
ManagementThe majority of the alpine peaks are inside the area managed as the Cloud Peak Wilderness of the Bighorn National Forest.
These are the rules and regulations for use of the Cloud Peak Wilderness:
- Must possess self-registration permit, obtained at trailhead
- Building or maintaining fire prohibited; must use stove
- Can not possess, store, or transport any part of a live or dead tree
- Can not camp within 100 feet of lakes or streams
- Must leave no objects behind including wrappers, tent pegs, tethers or any trash
- Can not enter with a group of 10 or more
- Can not short cut a switchback on a trail
- Can not possess a wagon, cart, bicycle, or any wheeled device
RoadsAll trailheads are reached from either US16 (Greybull to Sheridan via Granite Pass) or US14 (Worland to Buffalo via Powder River Pass).
Above Powder River Pass, US#16. photo: jimmyjay
GeologyDrier than most Wyoming ranges, there are only a few remnant glaciers with the largest being the Cloud Peak Glacier.
The alpine rock is a mix of Gneiss and Granite with associated outcrops of Quartz monzonite.
The rock in the canyons is Big Horn Dolomite and limestone.
Bighorn Cirque. photo: knoback
GuidebooksBonney, O.H. (1977). The Big Horn Range, 3rd Ed.; Swallow Press. Chicago, IL.
Huey, Aaron (2006). Mondo Beyondo: Tensleep Canyon Rock Climbing; self-published.
Molvar, Erik (1999). Hiking Wyoming's Cloud Peak Wilderness; Falcon/Globe Pequot Press. Guilford, CT.
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