RV Rental Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT

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Discover Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area


Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana was established in 1966 when the construction of the Yellowtail Dam was completed. Both the park and the reservoir straddle the Montana-Wyoming state borders, though a majority of it is in Montana. A particular trail found within the park, the Bad Pass Trail, is thought to have been used by Native American tribes for thousands of years. Even today, it holds a sacred cultural significance to the local tribes. As a result, no one is allowed to travel or hike on it. Within the park’s boundaries are four historic (and now-defunct) ranches. One, found on the fringes of a ghost town, Hillsboro, MT, was once visited by President Roosevelt. In spite of this prominent visitors, the ranch never quite built up enough traction to draw other vacationers, and as a result, fell into disrepair.

The closest large town is Billings, MT, about 90 miles to the north. However, in a pinch, there are a handful of small towns with grocery stores and a few shops. Crow Agency is about 45 miles east. Search for an RV in Big Horn County, MT, and get ready to embark on an RV camping trip of a lifetime.

Getting Outdoors

Though Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area covers over 120,000 acres, a large portion of the park is considered so treacherous that no trails have been established to these sections. As a result, there are only 17 miles of maintained trails. Experienced hikers and outdoorsmen are welcome to strike out on their own for backcountry hiking. However, they should be well prepared for emergencies. Rattlesnakes, among other aggressive creatures, are abundant. Sullivan’s Knob Trail is a popular one because there’s a particular spot on the trail at which a triple echo can be heard. Shout a greeting or a short phrase and hear the mirrored response in three different directions.

Keep a sharp eye out for rocky mountain sheep that enjoy hopping from precarious ledge to ledge on high, craggy cliffs. Black bears and wolves roam the wooded areas, though they are notoriously shy and difficult to spot. Mule deer and elk tend to be braver, and though they’re swift, photographers may have better luck finding them. In open meadows, prairie birds like grouse and pheasants scurry about while using tall grasses as cover in search of tasty bugs.

Thanks to the creation of the Yellowtail Dam, the resulting lake is about 30 miles long. There’s plenty of room for fishing and aquatic recreational fun. On the lake, anglers can expect to catch a wide variety of fish, including walleye, brown and rainbow trout, yellow perch, catfish, crappie, and carp. Below the dam, along the creek, trout fishing is excellent, and fishermen easily catch prized trophy-sized fish. In addition to kayaks and canoes, motorboats are permitted on the lake. There are two marinas and boat launches that make accessing the reservoir a snap. Zip up and down the lake all day long in races with invisible opponents or toss an anchor in one of the coves for a quiet day of sunbathing and swimming.

Photographers and nature lovers, head over to the Pryor Mountains area. That region has a few herds of wild mustangs that are said to be one of the most genetically-pure strains of mustangs in the country. These herds are believed to date back to the 1600s.

Camping at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Given that it’s a long drive from the closest town, it makes more sense to rent an Airstream and RV camp in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. By using one of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV campgrounds, visitors gain more immediate access to sheer, rugged wilderness. Wake up at the crack of dawn and watch deer emerge from the woods to sip from the lake water. Listen to the sound of birdsong in the trees.

Bighorn National Recreation Area has a few campgrounds, but only three can accommodate RVs. All are on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Horseshoe Bend Campground has the most amenities to offer. In addition to electric hookups, there is an on-site camp store and a dump station. Drinking water is seasonally available, and there are bathrooms with running water.

Afterbay Campground has around 40 sites, all of which are primitive. The restrooms have composting toilets and drinking water (seasonally available). There is a dump station should a camper require it.

Alternatively, RV camp at Barry’s Landing & Trail Creek Campground, which is more secluded and primitive. The campground has 30 sites. However, most of these are small and can only accommodate rigs up to 28 feet.

Exploring the Area

In a region where towns are far apart, it’s almost a requirement to rent a motorhome to make traveling from town to town in search of the perfect artwork, crafted good, or gift souvenir to take home. Many small towns have attractions, museums, and other interesting businesses to lure visitors into stopping. Garryowen, MT, is close to Custer Battlefield Monument, the site where doomed Custer and his men made their last stand.

The annual Bighorn County Fair, which is held in Hardin, in late July, is a host to several events and festivities. The fair is host to rodeos, derbies, live music, and competitions like baking contests. Crafters, artists, and food vendors also set up stands, inviting visitors to browse their wares.

RV camp surrounded by thousands of miles of sheer, virtually untouched wilderness for the perfect outdoor Montana adventure.

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Popular nearby hiking trails and campgrounds


  • Hiking TrailLocation
  • Lockhart Ranch, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Barry’s Island Trail, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Medicine Creek/ South Pasture Loop, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Hillsboro Loop, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Hillsboro, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Dry Head Vista, MTBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT
  • Upper Layout Creek Trail, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Lower Layout Creek Trail, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY
  • Two Eagles Interpretive Trail, MTBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT
  • Sullivan’s Knob Trail, WYBighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, WY

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