Outdoor offerings in Sheridan, Wyoming

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 21-28, 1996
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Outdoor offerings in Sheridan, Wyoming
Q: Do you have any suggestions for hiking, outdoor activities, and lodging in and around Sheridan, Wyoming, in early June?
David P. Smith
Alexandria, LA
[email protected]
Sheridan, WY, gateway to the Bighorn mountains, the Absorokas, and beyond
A: Flanked on its western side by the spectacular, 70-mile long Bighorn mountain range, Sheridan has plenty to offer in the way of outdoor activities. For hiking, head north out of Sheridan on I-90 to Dayton and then take Tongue Canyon Road three-and-a-half miles southwest to the Tongue River Canyon trailhead. This 14-mile loop route climbs up the canyon and circles back again, with great views of the fast-flowing, trout-filled Tongue River and towering canyon walls.

While you're there, explore the Tongue River Cave, not far from the trailhead--with more than a mile of winding passages. If you're an inexperienced spelunker, check in with the Forest Service before heading out to avoid getting lost.

Another Sheridan-area highlight you won't want to miss is Medicine Wheel, a wheel-like formation made of stones that sits on top of a high mountain plateau at 9,956 feet, with sprawling views of Wind River and Absaroka Range. One of the least-understood archaeological sites in the country, the wheel is accessible via a three-mile-long gravel road, off US 14A, about 40 miles west of Dayton. Keep in mind that the dirt road is usually snow-covered until late June, but it's an easy walk in.

Southwest of Sheridan is the Cloud Peak Wilderness, a 195,000-acre primitive area criss-crossed by more than 100 miles of hiking and horsepacking trails. Sign on with Cloud Peak Llama Treks in Story (307-683-2732) or Great Western Outfitters in Big Horn (307-674-4006) for multiday backcountry llama treks, or opt for a 21-mile loop hike along the Lower Paintrock Lake, Geneva Pass, and Edelman trails. To access the area, take I-90 to Buffalo and head west on US 16 to one of several entry roads.

For more information about the Big Horns, stop by the Forest Service office in Sheridan at 1969 South Sheridan Ave (307-672-0751). As for accommodations, the Sheridan area has plenty of motels and dude ranches to choose from: Try the Mill Inn Motel in Sheridan's historic flour mill (307-672-6401), Eaton's Guest Ranch (307-655-9285), about 18 miles west of town, Spear-O-Wigwam Dude Ranch (307-674-4496), or Masters Ranches (307-655-2386) in Ranchester. Call the Sheridan Visitor Center at 307-672-2485 for more information, or pick up a copy of The Wyoming Handbook ($14.95; Moon Publications).

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