Wilderness, isolation, seclusion, and serenity is what you will find in the Big Sheep Creek region, in the State of Montana. Situated in a scenic mountain valley, the Big Sheep Creek flows through a narrow canyon, and the Bureau of Land Management site provides an open area along the creek, next to Deadwood Gulch site at Dell, for visitors to take in the remote wilderness area. If you're lucky, you will get to view the bighorn sheep that frequent the region and graze and shelter on the slopes and canyon walls. The Big Sheep Creek creates a riparian area in the wilderness, supporting a variety of scrub vegetation, willows, and native grasses providing food and shelter for wildlife.
The Big Sheep Creek Backcountry Byway accessing the area is part of the experience of this mountainous backcountry location. Ease into the remote solitude of the region along the byway as you pass the Tendoy Mountain canyons, to the tall rocky cliffs that make up the Big Sheep Canyon. The distinct lack of human activity in the area lets you see this wilderness area as the people that inhabited the area experienced it hundreds of years ago - a truly unique experience.
While in the area be sure to visit the many spectacular wilderness areas and parks that surround this remote southwestern section of Montana. Visit the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Bannack State Park, Clark's Lookout State Park, Henrys Lake State Park, and Harriman State Park while visiting the region.
Visit the BLM Big Sheep Creek site located near Dell, Montana if you are prepared for remote conditions. You have a couple of options to reach the site. One for the more adventurous, and one for the more cautious! The easier route is from the south and east. Take the Big Sheep Road access to Dell from Interstate 15. The interstate is a well-paved highway and the Big Sheep Road that runs west from Interstate 15 to the BLM Big Sheep Creek Site is a well-maintained gravel road that should be accessible for all vehicles, except in the most inclement of weather.
For those looking to really experience the wilderness area, you can take the Big Sheep Backcountry Byway, a 50-mile gravel road, that passes through the rough backcountry wilderness from Clark Canyon Dam on Montana Route 324, and heads southeast to the Big Sheep Creek area. The road is mostly two-lane, and most of the route is appropriate for two-wheel drive vehicles. However, there is a one-lane stretch and some rough areas that may require four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance.
The route can become impassable in wet weather and is closed during the winter. It is open from May to October each year. This is not a good route for large RVs and tow trailers. The route has several junctions which can be confusing and there are gates along the way which you will need to get out and open and close behind you. There are no services in the area so you should be prepared with supplies, spare tires, tools, and anything you may need to travel in the region. There is no cellular service, so make sure you inform someone of your travel plans, have accurate area maps, and satellite aided GPS devices when journeying on the Scenic Byway to Big Sheep Creek.
Located adjacent to the Bureau of Land Managements Big Sheep Creek, visitors looking for overnight camping will find the BLM Deadwood Gulch Campground. This is an open area with no trees or shade and can be exposed and hot in the summer months, so be prepared.
The campground is located near the Big Sheep Creek where fishing activities, hiking, and wildlife sighting opportunities await. Situated at 6312 feet, this beautiful, secluded, remote wilderness area has plenty of peace and quiet for nature lovers. The campground has six sites for tents and RVs, with fire rings and picnic tables.
Amenities include vault toilets, but there is no running water, no RV dump site and no RV hookups at this primitive designated camping site. The campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and there is no fee for camping. Cellular service is unreliable in the area, and there are no trash services or amenities, so you will need to bring everything you will need and be prepared to pack out your trash.
Informal hiking trails along the river, through the canyons, and along drainages at the base of the mountains provide hiking opportunities in the area. The terrain is rough and there are steep elevation changes if you head up towards the mountainous regions, so be prepared with plenty of water during hot weather, and sturdy hiking boots so you don't turn an ankle on loose rocks and uneven ground.
Cooler fall weather is ideal for hiking in the region. This is a remote wilderness area with no services, so inform someone of your plans before venturing out, and be sure of your route. Contact the BLM Dillon Field Office for information, conditions, and maps. Be sure to pack out all trash to keep this area pristine for other users.
The Big Sheep Creek Backcountry Byway is open from May to October and is a famous local drive for exploring the area and getting in some excellent sightseeing. Experience the remote wilderness on the 50 mile, mostly two-lane gravel road. There are single lane sections and rough areas during wet weather, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance may be required during inclement weather on this scenic drive.
You will see miles of wilderness, ranchlands, mountains, canyons, cliffs, and streams along the way, unspoiled by human activities. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, from which the area gets its name, and deer that roam the area.
Visit a ghost town and try your hand at gold panning at Bannack State Park, just an hour's drive north of the BLM Big Sheep Creek Site. The “ghost town” is an old mining town that has more than 50 buildings which can be visited by the public, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Bannack Days occurs on the third weekend in July and the festival includes live music, demonstrations, and wagon rides. The site is open all summer long, and weekends in May and October.
Try your hand at fly fishing for trout on the Big Sheep Creek from the banks near the BLM site, or head north for excellent fishing, which can be had at the Clark Canyon Reservoir. Take a quick run up Interstate 15 for a more leisurely drive up the backcountry byway to reach the 5000 acre lake.
The reservoir contains a great trout population. Large trout can be caught with large streamers and smaller flies work for smaller trout in the lake. Be sure to have a valid state of Montana fishing license.
Visit Bannack State Park in the off season for some winter fun. Ice Skating is available on the Dredge Pond from January to March when the pond freezes. There is a warming shack open on weekends, where you can even get hot drinks to warm up after your skate!
Bring your own skates or borrow some of the free skates available on site. Step back in time as you glide along the ice with the scenic historical town as a unique backdrop.
Visit ski resorts in the area during the winter months for some downhill skiing or snowboarding. The Lost Trail Ski Area is only a two-hour drive away and features five chair lifts, three rope tows, and 60 groomed and marked trails on over 1800 acres of skiable area that spans two mountains!
Lessons, rentals, and nearby accommodations are available here. The area gets plenty of snow in the winter, transforming nearby mountains into winter wonderlands for alpine adventures!