heart mountain

Heart Mountain National Historic Landmark

I was today years old, minus a couple of years, when I learned that Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the homes and kept in camps during World War II.  Chalk it up to me being a slow reader in high school and finding history incredibly boring or that it wasn’t taught.  I don’t know which, but ever since I learned about this injustice, I wondered where the camps, known as “relocation centers” were.  One, was located in northern Wyoming and is now the Heart Mountain National Historic Landmark.

porucpine waterfalls off scenic highway 14A

Waterfalls Off Scenic Highway 14A

US Highway 14A, also known as Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Byway, travels 98 miles from Cody, Wyoming to Burgess Junction.  It features five waterfalls on the 53 mile stretch between Lovell and Burgess Junction along with a few other interesting stops.  Below are the five waterfalls off Scenic Highway 14A.

prayer flags and bluebird at bighorn medicine wheel

Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark

The Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, located in the Bighorn National Forest, is absolutely fascinating to me and extremely sacred to Native Americans.  In fact, the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark was so interesting to me, that I returned twelve years later to see it again. Given I rarely go the same place twice, that’s saying a lot!

I can’t really explain why I find the Medicine Wheel so interesting, except that I was completely surprised by the limestone rocks that form a circle 80 feet in diameter during my first visit.  I can’t imagine being the first settler to discover the Medicine Wheel, with 28 rock spokes radiating from a center cairn, spread across the northwest ridge of a mountain at nearly 9,700 feet!

annie on canyon rim overlooking bighorn lake

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Around the Bighorns

After my week in Buffalo hiking and visiting historic areas, I sort of bounced around a few days, spending a little time in Ten Sleep, Greybull, and Lovell.  Ten Sleep had a great brewery that offered $3 hot showers.  Greybull has a pretty good grocery store called Lynn’s Superfoods and the KOA let me fill up my water tank for $2.  And finally, I got some laundry done in Lovell. In the process of looking for shade on this 90 degree day, I ended up at the offices for Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

I hadn’t planned to visit Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area beyond making a drive by to see if I could spot any of the wild mustangs on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range.  But after stopping inside the ranger station to ask a few questions, I spent almost a full day at the recreation area.

lost twin lakes

Mirror Lake and Lost Twin Lakes

How to Get to Mirror Lake and Lost Twin Lakes

Mirror Lake and Lost Twin Lakes are located in the Cloud Peak Wilderness portion of the Big Horn National Forest near Buffalo, Wyoming.  The lakes are accessed via Trail #65 from the West Tensleep Trailhead.

There is a large dirt parking lot, pit toilets, and a few picnic tables at the trailhead located at the end of West Tensleep Road.  West Tensleep Road is a very popular camping area.  Free, designated sites line the road and are available on a first come first served basis.  There are also a few basic campgrounds.

So far, the hike to Mirror Lake and Lost Twin Lakes has been my favorite of the season.  It definitely earns FIVE STARS on AllTrails.  Somehow, I doubt it will be topped, but I have many more hikes in Wyoming to complete.

girl and dog at sherd lake

Happy Hiking: Sherd Lake Trail

Sherd Lake Trailhead is located off Circle Park Road in the Cloud Peak Wilderness of Big Horn National Forest near Buffalo, Wyoming.  Normally the moderate, 3.5 mile roundtrip hike leaves from a small dirt parking area with a pit toilet.

Currently, due to all the precipitation in Wyoming, Circle Park Road is closed at the entrance gate off Highway 16.  The closure adds 4.5 miles to the hike, though much of the additional distance may be covered via a connector trail after walking a mile down the road.

the occidental hotel in buffalo

Things to Do in Buffalo

The small town of Buffalo, Wyoming is located nine miles east of the Big Horn National Forest in Johnson County, Wyoming.  It is just large enough to provide all the amenities when exploring the area.  Buffalo features a historic downtown as well as a slew necessary travel businesses on Hart St which intersects with I-90.

Buffalo’s colorful history includes Indian Wars, Cattle Baron Wars, and outlaw activity.  Though it might be best known as Durant in Absaroka County in the Longmire Series written by Craig Johnson, who lives on a ranch in nearby Ucross.  A&E and later Netflix aired a combined six seasons of the Longmire mystery series based in Buffalo and Johnson County.

Things to Do in Buffalo

There are many things to do in Buffalo, from visiting outlaw hangouts, to fishing, camping, climbing, horseback riding, and strolling through the quaint Buffalo Historic District.  Below are a few things you will find when visiting Buffalo.


Grouse Mountain Trail and Ice Caves

My first 24 hours in Wyoming were a little rough.  I drove through two hailstorms. While looking for a camp spot, I got stuck in the mud and had to get a tow from some nice cowboys. And finally, Annie cut her paw and lost her brand-new bear bell on our first hike to Grouse Mountain and Ice Caves.  But, after waking up to a magnificent sunrise, breathing in the fresh mountain air, and spotting deer, pronghorn, and grouse during the first two hours of my hike, I’m quickly reminded why I venture into the wilderness.  #thatsWY

annie on goat hill above raton

Happy Hiking: Climax Canyon Trail

Anytime I come through Raton, New Mexico, I simply just think of it is the place to get gas between Colorado and Texas as there is a long stretch of road without facilities.  Raton, in fact, has more to offer than just gas, particularly its surrounding hiking trails. 

The last time I stopped near Raton for more than just gas was twelve years ago on my first road trip across the USA.  I explored Sugarite Canyon State Park to the Northeast of Raton.  This time, I took Annie to stretch her legs in Climax Canyon Park on the west edge of town.