Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Unbeatable opportunities to explore the natural landscapes and features of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area make the park a premier destination for RV camping. Occupying about 188 sq. miles, there are diverse ecosystems and wildlife in the park, as well as various camping options available for virtually all kinds of recreational pursuits. The park consists of the North District located in Fort Smith, Montana, and the South District located in Lovell, Wyoming.

Recreational opportunities available at Bighorn Canyon NRA include hiking on all the park’s trails that add up to 17 miles and vary in difficulty, angling for up to 38 different fish species, and bird watching. Boating, canoeing and kayaking also fun ways to spend your time at the park, particularly as there are two marinas equipped with boating supplies. Horseback riding, cycling, and historic tours are also other interesting ways to engage yourself.

RV, backcountry, and group camps are available at Bighorn Canyon NRA. The RV campsites are distributed across three campgrounds, one of which provides electric and water hookups. Most of the RV campsites in the park are available on first-come, first-served basis. Some of the amenities in the park include toilets, dump station, and food storage lockers.

Bighorn Canyon NRA has something for everyone!

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RV Rentals in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Transportation in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Driving

The North District of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is located in Fort Smith, Montana, and accessible via US Highway 313. Accessibility to the South District, located in Lovell, Wyoming, is via US Highway 14 or 310. In both parts of the park, there are local roads that make it easy to locate the campgrounds and places of interest. There are no driving restrictions within this recreation area.

Parking

There are designated parking areas for RVs, trailers, and other motorized vehicles at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area for use by vacationers and visitors. The campsites in the park also have room for parking rigs. Moreover, overnight parking is available.

Public Transport

There are no public transportation services to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

Campgrounds and parking in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Campsites in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Horseshoe Bend Campground

Located 14 miles north of Lovell, Wyoming, Horseshoe Bend Campground in Bighorn Canyon NRA features 48 pet-friendly campsites that can accommodate RVs and tents. 19 campsites in the campground are equipped with electric and water hookups for RVs. RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet. The campground paths and campsites are gravel and level.

Drinking water, trailer dump station and modern restrooms are available. Trash cans and flush toilets are also on hand at the campground. A picnic site, swim beach, boat docks, and Horseshoe Bend Marina are less than 1 mile hike from the campground. An amphitheater and camp store are also present.

Five campsites in the campground can be reserved, while the remaining campsites are available on first-come, first-served basis only.

Afterbay Campground

Afterbay Campground is located near Fort Smith, Montana, and features 40 pet-friendly campsites that can accommodate RVs and tents. 28 campsites are on the south shore of Afterbay lake and these can accommodate larger RVs than the 12 campsites that are on the north shore of the lake, near Grapevine Creek. No RV hookups are available within Afterbay Campground. RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet.

Amenities in the campground include trash cans, vault toilets, and a trailer dump station. Drinking water is available, as well as food storage lockers.

All the campsites are available on first-come first-served basis only. Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am and generator use is permitted from 8 am to 8 pm. You can stay for up to 14 days at a time.

Trail Creek Campground

Located north of Lovell, Wyoming, near Barry’s Landing, Trail Creek Campground consists of 14 pet-friendly campsites available on first-come first-served basis only. Most of the campsites in the campground are small for a 28 ft RV or smaller.

There are no RV hookups in the campground, but food storage lockers, vault toilets, campfire rings, and trash cans are available. The campsites are equipped with picnic tables and grills. All the roads and parking spurs in the campground are gravel.

Yellowstone and brook trout fishing opportunities are available at Trail Creek.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Spring

Fishing

Bighorn Lake and Bighorn River offer incredible angling opportunities to RV campers who love to fish. You can choose to catch the fish species within the park’s waters either from the shoreline or from a boat. What makes fishing even more refreshing at the park is the beautiful outdoor scenery of the park.

As you fish in the park’s waters, you’ll be able to catch walleye, rainbow trout and brown trout. RV campers have also recorded catching carp, yellow perch, and catfish in the park. Don’t be surprised if you find crappie and ling too. Altogether, up to 38 different fish species have been caught in the park’s waters.

Summer

Hiking

At Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, there are about 17 miles of hiking trails available for RV campers to enjoy easy to strenuous hikes on. A common feature of the park is that all hikers enjoy many terrific views along the various trails in the park. Trails that pass though the canyon are rocky and consist of some spiny vegetation, so ensure you wear good hiking shoes that cover your toes to protect your feet. There is poison ivy in some parts of the park, so ensure you stay on the designated trails and don’t wander about.

If you visit Bighorn Canyon NRA with your pet, feel free to bring them with you as you hike the trails. However, be sure to keep them on a leash and clean up after them.

Boating

Enjoy the excellent opportunity to explore the scenic beauty and colorful landscapes of Bighorn Canyon NRA from your boat, canoe, or kayak on your RV camping trip. Two marinas are available in the park that offer a variety of amenities for sailing and paddling enthusiasts - Ok-A-Beh Marina near Fort Smith, Montana, and Horseshoe Bend Marina near Lovell, Wyoming.

To operate watercraft on Bighorn Lake, a special permit is required. Throughout summer, boat tours of Bighorn Canyon NRA are offered for all to appreciate the park even more.

Fall

Fauna and Nature Viewing

Many amazing habitats are present at Bighorn Canyon NRA, with five climatic zones creating conditions that support the growth of a wide range of animals. The climatic zones range from alpine areas to high desert. You’ll find Bighorn sheep, Pryor Mountain wild horses and a wide array of wildlife within the park, offering memorable sights and good opportunities to take photographs.

Besides, you can check out the one-thousand-foot drop at Devil Canyon’s overlook or see where the canyon starts at Yellowtail Dam. You just can’t get enough of the amazing sights in the park.

Picnicking

There are nice picnic facilities at the North and South Districts of Bighorn Canyon NRA, all of which are equipped with amenities that provide memorable picnic experiences for RV campers. It is not uncommon to see wildlife like bears around the picnic areas, but remember that it is illegal to feed them. Moreover, you are advised to take good care of your belongings and not leave garbage in the open, or food scraps on the floor or in the grill.

Winter

Bird Watching

More than 230 bird species have been recorded and sighted in various habitats within Bighorn Canyon NRA Interestingly, the park sits on one of the great flyways in North America. So, year-round, bird watching opportunities abound in the park, particularly in the Afterbay.

If you look carefully, you’ll see birds of prey like the mighty golden eagle, the robin-sized kestrel, and the great horned owl. Insectivorous birds are also common in the park. The more you look, the more you see!

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