- 47 miles (75 km)
- Allow 1 hour to drive this byway.
- Forest Service campground fees apply. Some private facilities may also require fees.
Bighorn Scenic Byway follows US-14 beginning in Shell and moving through Shell Canyon into Bighorn National Forest. The road winds up the Big Horn Mountains, showcasing craggy limestone outcroppings, colorful stacks of granite, and sandstone filled with fossil shells. Take a drive and explore Bighorn National Forest, stop and see Shell Falls, then end your drive with a relaxing picnic at Connor Battlefield State Historic Site.
Bighorn National Forest covers over 1.1 million acres in northcentral Wyoming where a mild climate will keep you cool as you explore forests filled with fir, pine, spruce, and aspen trees. Here, all motorized or mechanical vehicles are prohibited, and wholesome recreation is the pleasant alternative. Camping, biking, and hiking are popular activities; 32 campgrounds and over 1,500 miles of trails accommodate many visitors each year. Go fishing at one of the many lakes loaded with trout and hundreds of other species of fish. Also, watch wildlife and see black bears, elk, moose, deer, and more.
Shell Falls, halfway into Shell Canyon, tumbles into Shell Creek, its water dropping at 3,600 gallons per second as it follows a course carved by fractures in granite. Millions of years of sedimentary erosion created this waterfall. Notice the colorful sheets of sedimentary rocks; flathead sandstone softly sits aloft the pink and gray granite. At 550 million years old, the sandstone holds fossil shells, revealing the source of the moniker for the canyon, the creek, and the waterfall. Even older than the sandstone, some granite layers date back three billion years. The trail leading up to the waterfall brings you close, and the thud of falling water resonates from your chest down to the soles of your feet, spreading sublimely through your body.
Finally, visit the Connor Battlefield State Historic Site, located in Ranchester just east of the byway's end. Back in 1865, General P.E. Connor and his men battled with a village of Arapahos in the Battle of Tongue River. Today, a monument stands at Connor Battlefield, a lush park with wide space to play and picnic or relax and nap. The Tongue River rushes past the park, perfect for fishing and wildlife watching.
From thick forests and steep valleys to sharp mountains and glassy lakes, the Bighorn Scenic Byway offers a journey through Wyoming's most diverse land. As you follow the route, you'll experience a recreational, scenic, and historic drive.