We will start paddling June 10th 9am, so arrive and camp June 9th at Horseshoe Bend Campground (first come, first serve campground). Please allow flexibility in the end date of this trip, in case a layover or weather day is needed.
This trip will be at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The lake is in northern Wyoming and southern Montana – and we will paddle about 120 miles over approximately 8-10 days , paddling from one end of the lake, then back to the put in (with an option to self-shuttle and end your trip half-way). Tracy and Janet paddled here in 2020 and 2021, finding it rewarding enough to return once again. We will limit this trip to about 12 people.
The Bighorn Canyon Lake is long and narrow. It was created when the Yellowtail Dam was constructed on the Bighorn River. This incredibly beautiful canyon is not on many people’s radar, do not expect big crowds. Because of the number of people in this club strangely attracted to the “G” word, perhaps I shouldn’t use it – but here goes- The GEOLOGY here is spectacular! Although power boats are allowed, we will likely experience much peace and solitude while paddling by the sheer canyon walls. Fishing here must be good, that’s what most of the people come here for. We saw very few paddlers here on our previous trips. This is a flat water lake trip, however wind and resulting waves can potentially make this a challenging paddle. There are a couple of developed campsites on the lake (picnic tables and outhouses), although we will primarily camp at primitive/non-developed sites. A couple of the campsites offer opportunities for some hiking.
This is remote bear country. Our first year paddling this canyon we saw 3 bears at different places, although last year we only saw bear tracks and scat. So bear canisters are highly recommended – or you will need to find a way to hang your food – and no food or food odors (tooth paste, deodorant, soap, anything smelly) in the tent or on you. We carried enough water to last 5-6 days, as filtering water is not recommended. Also be prepared to deal with ticks and poison ivy. Weather can range from freezing temperatures, to hot.
The put-in will be at Horseshoe Bend Campground, near Lovell WY. We will paddle approximately 60 miles to Ok-A-Beh Marina near Ft Smith MT – where we can get fresh water. This part of the trip will take 4 or 5 days, depending on weather conditions and how much time we spend hiking or paddling side canyons – and if we have a layover day. Then we paddle back to where we started in Horseshoe Bend Campground, making the trip about 120-130 miles. If anyone wants to end their trip at Ok-A Beh, they can self-shuttle at least two vehicles to here the day before the trip. There is no commercial shuttle service available here. We did this shuttle last year and it took over 7 hours, which is why we are making this paddle “out and back”.
We plan on paddling around 15 miles a day. But, depending on weather conditions, and availability of campsites due to water levels at the time of the trip, we might need to paddle some 20+ mile days. So, you should be prepared and capable of paddling 20 miles per day.
Each boat will need both MT and WY AIS stickers (go online to get them). When traveling with boats in Wyoming and Montana, you should stop at EVERY BOAT INSPECTION station you encounter, even if you have already been inspected. Sites at Horseshoe Bend Campground are not reservable, first come first served – although there were ample sites available when we camped there previously.
If you have time to explore Big Horn Canyon National Recreation area by vehicle before or afterwards, there is some really cool stuff to see. Devil’s Canyon overlook is only a short drive from the campground and is a recommended “must see” to give you a view of what’s to come on this paddle. There’s also a historic ranch with some well-preserved outbuildings, and an ancient Indian encampment with over 140 documented teepee rings. If you make this a one-way trip and shuttle, you will drive by Chief Plenty Coups State Park, and also the Edgar Bar – for the world’s best burger and a cold one. If the Bighorn Pass is open between Sheridan and Lovell, it’s a scenic/beautiful drive, with a short hike to “Medicine Wheel” National Historic Landmark site. Contact one of us to be added to this trip.
As mentioned above, we want to limit the trip to 12 people. People that expressed interest in this trip have first opportunity to attend, and there are more than 12. They have been asked to commit by March 1. On March 2nd, if 12 people have not committed to this trip, it will be opened up to others.
To sign up, please contact Tracy and Janet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracy Hays 970 443 8694 Janet Hays 970 586 9694