Trip Itineraries

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A bend in a river flanked by trees and tall grass
Bighorn River near Three Mile Trail

NPS

North District - Fort Smith, MT

Top 5 things to do:

  • Fish the Bighorn River - If you like to fish, then you'll love the Bighorn River. The first 3 miles below the Afterbay Dam are truly world class. Anywhere between 8,000 to 11,000 trout per mile can be found on the most fished stretch of river in the state of Montana. Two National Park Service managed fishing accesses that are part of Bighorn Canyon NRA give anglers this amazing opportunity.
  • Boating on Bighorn Lake - The waters of Bighorn Lake await boaters who come to ride between walls, cliffs, and spires that tower over 500 feet above the lake. The recreation opportunities on a boat trip along the lake are amazing. Water ski, fish, camp or enjoy the sights. This is truly an unforgettable trip!
 
  • Viewing Yellowtail Dam – From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Yellowtail Dam visitor center is open to the public seven days a week. Walk to the back of the visitor center to look through the glass windows at a truly stunning view. The Yellowtail Dam stands 525 feet high, damming the Bighorn and backing the lake up behind it for 71 miles.
  • Camping at Black Canyon – Could there be a prettier spot. Black Canyon's grandeur has few rivals. Towering sandstone cliffs rise above the lake. The campground sits where the lake turns to a clear stream. Spend a night enjoying the crisp, cool canyon air while experiencing the beauty Black Canyon evokes.
  • Ranger Led Programs - Throughout the summer National Park Service Rangers give programs at the Afterbay campground theater, at Ok-A-Beh Marina, and along our hiking trails. Learn about the history of the Crow Nation, historic river trips, the bears of Bighorn Canyon, floating the Bighorn, and more. The natural and cultural history of Bighorn Canyon comes to life as past, present, and future intermingle at these programs.
 
Aerial view of Ok-A-Beh Marina
Ok-A-Beh Marina

One Hour, Half-Day, and Full-Day Excursions in Fort Smith

ONE HOUR

Only have one hour on the North District in Fort Smith, Montana? During the months of May-September, we invite you to step back in time with a visit to the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center. Next, enjoy a scenic drive on Ok-A-Beh road with stunning 360 views of the landscape around the canyon. It is an out and back drive that starts on Highway 313 and ends at Ok-A-Beh Marina. On the drive, learn more about Crow culture at the Four Winds Interpretive Site. If you haven't used up your hour, take a hike on the Head Gate Trail which highlights a stone and mortar structure built by the Crow Indians to control the flow of water into the Bighorn Ditch.

HALF DAY

Have half day at the North District in Fort Smith, Montana. Spend some time on the water.  Bring your own kayak and immerse yourself in the canyon from Ok-A-Beh Marina to Black Canyon and back.  Too much work?  Rent a boat from Ok-A-Beh Marina and soak in the canyon. Use the Waterway Trail Guide to plan your trip. If the water isn't for you, walk two of our less than two-mile trails, Three-Mile Access Trail and Beaver Pond Nature Trail.

FULL DAY

With a full day at the North District in Fort Smith, Montana, take the time to truly explore the park.  Bring your camper or tent and plan to stay at one of our two campgrounds, Grapevine and Afterbay. Bring your binoculars and sense of adventure.  Schedule your full day boat rental with Ok-A-Beh Marina.  Spend the day looking for wildlife along the shoreline and enjoying the water.  Before you get the campfire roaring in the evening, check the calendar to see if there is a ranger-led campground program or enjoy the variety of birds on the Afterbay Lake.  



 
A river winding through a narrow
View of Bighorn Canyon from Sullivan's Knob Trail.

NPS

South District - Bighorn Lovell, WY

Top 5 things to do

  • Boating on Bighorn Lake – The waters of Bighorn Lake await boaters who come to ride between walls, cliffs, and spires that tower over 500 feet above the lake. The recreation opportunities on a boat trip along the lake are amazing. Water ski, fish, camp or enjoy the sights. This is truly an unforgettable trip!
  • Visit Devil Canyon Overlook – In a word: Stunning. Drive up to the Devil Canyon overlook just off the park road (Wyoming Hwy. 37), park your car, walk ten yards, and look down hundreds of vertical feet at the shimmering waters of Bighorn Lake. To understand how the river carved the canyon over millions and millions of years, Devil Canyon is a must see.
 
  • Fishing Bighorn Lake - Walleye and sauger are two of the most sought after species of fish in the 71 mile long waters of Bighorn Lake. Anglers have their choice of literally thousands of secluded spots along both the lake and shore. All this plus incredible scenery.
  • Visit the Historic Ranches - There are four historic ranches which tell the story of ranching history in the American West. From the wild, legendary days of the open range to the beginning of tourist dude ranches, these symbols of a not so long ago past tell a story of hope and hardship in one of the most rugged landscapes in North America.
  • Take a Hike - With over 25 miles of trails there are a plethora of options all over the South District. Try the State Line Trail which straddles the Wyoming-Montana border and leads to amazing views of the canyon.
 

Last updated: January 11, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area South District Visitor Center
20 US Hwy 14A

Lovell , WY 82431

Phone:

307 548-5406

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