Bighorn Mountains: Sitting Bull Campground

sitting bull campground bighorn mountains

Sitting Bull Campground is in Bighorn Mountains National Forest in northern Wyoming. It’s beautifully situated with plenty of lodgepole pines for shade, a large meadow with a mountain creek and abundant wildlife nearby.

The Campground is on the west side of Powder River Pass along Scenic Highway 16, known as Cloud Peak Scenic Drive. Look for Meadowlark Lake Lodge on the south side of 16, and just to the west is the road to the campground heading north. The elevation here is 8,600 feet.

It’s well-maintained and looked after by a resident host couple. The sites are spacious and private, some with mountain views.

Of all the campgrounds where we stayed during our 2-week Wyoming trip (including the Tetons), our two nights here was my husband, Nick’s, favorite. The rest of us thought it was pretty great, too.

Here’s why we loved Sitting Bull Campground

Our campsite was gorgeous

Plenty of room, with a heavy-duty picnic table with Class 5 gravel surrounding it. What a great idea! No dirt to drag into the camper. No mud after a rain.

sitting bull campsite bighorns wyoming
Relaxing at the campsite after a day of activity.

We walked around one afternoon to look at the other sites, too, and most of them are very lovely. We were there mid-week so it wasn’t busy, but were told the weekends get pretty active.

We could make a reservation

This isn’t usually a deal-breaker for us, but it’s nice to know we’ll have a spot no matter what. Not only can you make an online reservation, you can see which site you’re reserving. There are photos available to view, along with the campground map.

It’s cheap!

Only $10 a night (2017 rates). You can’t go wrong with that.

7 moose in 2 days

This is big for us. Nick loves “moose hunting,” as we call it. We drive around in the evenings on the back roads to see what wildlife we can see. We saw more moose in 2 days here than in 2 summers elsewhere.

Our second night we were sitting out at our campfire near dusk when a cow, calf and young bull started crossing the meadow over by the creek. Since we always bring binoculars, we could see them well. What fun!

moose in the bighorns
One of several moose we saw in our two days at Sitting Bull Campground.

We also saw lots of mule deer and a few marmots. There are mountain lions and black bears in the Bighorns, too, but no grizzlies.

Exceptionally good water

The campground water tastes terrific. No showers or flushies, but vault toilets and spigots for water.

Nearby Meadowlake Lake Lodge…

…has home-baked goodies, like cinnamon rolls the size of  dinner plates! You can get a Wyoming fishing license there, too. Just across Hwy 16 from the campground, and slightly east.

Meadowlark Lake…

…is a 325-acre reservoir just across 16. It’s known for its trout fishing, especially on the far side near the spillway. Boating is popular—both motor boats and paddling.

Nearby day-use picnic area…

…at Lakes Point. A very narrow, winding dirt road off 16 a mile or two west from Sitting Bull. No trailers are allowed—which you’ll understand when you drive it! There are several lovely picnic sites that overlook Meadowlark Lake and the valley below.

Wild lupine…

…are everywhere! These are one of my favorite wildflowers, so I was glad to be there in June when they were blooming. Of course there are plenty of other wild flowers, too.

wild flowers in the bighorn mountains
Silvery lupine and heartleaf arnica blooming together.

Tensleep Canyon…

…is a few miles further west along Highway 16, and wow! We didn’t drive the whole thing until we left the area, but it would certainly be worth taking a half-day trip to stop, look around and hike. Stunning.

And speaking of hiking…

Where are the hiking trails?

The only thing I didn’t like about this area is it’s impossible to find good information on hiking trails! I was so surprised. Surely there are great trails around here.

I scoured online for anything. All I could come up with was a list of a few dozen trails on the National Forest Service site. But I would’ve had to click on each one to look it up—no way!

I couldn’t find any printed maps (or PDF maps) of hiking trails in the area, even at the Visitors Center in Buffalo on our way into the Bighorns.

meadow with creek bighorns
Despite the lack of formal trails near us, we walked through the neighboring meadow along the creek. (You can barely see our camper to the left near the trees.)

A couple weeks after we were there our younger son went back to this same area for a 5-day backpacking trip with a bunch of his buddies. They knew where to go because one of the guys has a cousin in Sheridan who backpacks there.

He said it was gorgeous, and there were trails. So maybe the locals want to keep them to themselves! 🙂

cold morning in the bighorns
Jamie and Jason show off the early morning temperature—35 degrees F! A brisk June morning!

We’ll go back

I imagine we’ll go back there someday to camp again, and maybe stay longer this time. It’d be fun to base here and do a 2-3 day backpacking excursion into the nearby Cloud Peak Wilderness. There’s more to see in the northern end of the Bighorns, too, which we didn’t have time to get to.

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