Viewed from the Big Horn Basin in NW Wyoming, Sheep Mountain is the final obvious peak along the ridge of the Big Horn Range as it gently descends north into Montana. As with most of the mountains on the eastern edge of the range, the spectacular rock formations that make up the summit area are split into pieces by gaping crevasses that are often twenty or more feet deep. There also small holes at odd intervals that appear to be very deep as well, so hikers should always watch that their footholds are solid and are located away from these features.
Sheep Mountain overlooks some of the beautiful forested areas of the northern part of the Big Horns, and summit views include the vast expanse of the Big Horn Basin, the Pryor Mountains to the west, and the cluster of peaks to the south that includes Medicine, Duncum, and Bald Mountains.
Vision quest circle
Located about eight miles south of here, the Medicine Wheel is the most famous example of Native American stonework in the area. However, Sheep Mountain was a very popular place for young men to go for their vision quests, and there are many stone circles and rock cairns still on the mountain that were used for this purpose. There are also circles that mark the sites of Native American camping grounds as well. For more information, see the External Links section.
On the eastern slopes
From Lovell, Wyoming, take U.S. Highway 14A heading east for about 25.5 miles and turn left on Road 14, which is marked for Devils Canyon. To approach from Sheridan, Wyoming, follow Highway 14 to Burgess Junction, turn right on Highway 14A, and travel for about 18.5 miles.
Stay on Road 14 for about 3 miles and turn right at the fork directing you to Sheep Mountain. This road climbs up over Duncum Mountain and eventually turns into Marble Quarry Road; at the fork, turn left onto road 11 and wind your way up onto the east side of Sheep Mountain. This road is pretty rough in places, but unless it is wet, 4WD is not needed though high clearance is nice to have.
Park off of the road about halfway along the side of the mountain and continue up the steep slope on foot, heading for the obvious split between the highest blocks of rock on the summit ridge. Once you attain the ridge, watch out for the large and deep chasms that fracture the entire summit area into a maze of pillars and boulders.
Chasm Summit view west
The summit has a rock cairn that is built around the USGS benchmark and a crude wooden structure that is laying on its side. There is some nice exposure looking down off of the summit to the west, and after scrambling down below the summit on the east side, you might be able to see a golden eagle on its nest high on the rock ledges. Standing on the summit, it looks like one of the rock points to the north is higher; after climbing this point from the north via one short and easy Class 3 section, it was fairly obvious that the first summit with the benchmark is indeed higher.
This is a quick climb, with a total distance from the car of a third of a mile and 500 feet of elevation gain.
Access to this area is very easy except during the winter and early spring, when Highway 14A is closed. This area has an abundance of wildlife, so be especially aware of moose, elk, black bears, and mountain lions when hiking in this area. There are no grizzlies in the Big Horns.
Places to camp in the Big Horns are numerous, with the majority of the range being open to dispersed camping. Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of lakes or streams, or within 1/4 mile of major roads. For complete rules and regulations, visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/bighorn/recreation/camping/
External LinksInformation on Native American stone structures