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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Lovell, Wyoming

JPG -- Picture of Bighorn Canyon.

At first glance, time seems to have stopped at Bighorn Canyon. The lake and the steep-sided canyons provide a peaceful setting for those seeking a break from the daily routine. The focus of the area is 113-kilometer-long (71 mile) Bighorn Lake, created by Yellowtail Dam near Fort Smith, Mont. Dedicated in 1968, the dam provides electric power, water for irrigation, flood control, and recreation. Boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming, and sightseeing are the principal attractions.

While you enjoy the play of light and shadow on rock and water, take time to comtemplate the changes that the land and the life upon it have undergone. Time and water provide the keys to Bighorn Canyon, where the land has been shaped by moving water since vast unheavals of the earth's crust produced the Pryor and Bighorn Mountains millions of years ago.

For 22 kilometers (15 miles) upstream from the dam, the lake bisects a massive, arching anticline, exposing fossils that tell of succussive times when this land was submerged under a shallow sea, when it was a tropical marsh, and when its conifer forests were inhabited by dinosaurs. Man first arrived here more than 10,000 years ago, living nomadically as a hunter and gatherer. In modern times, he has further shaped and altered the land.

Most of Bighorn's visitors come to enjoy the recreational opportunities the setting offers. Boaters, water skiers, fishermen, and scuba divers each find special attractions here. But the park holds much to interest the visitor beyond the lake, from spring and summer wildflowers to more than 200 species of birds, and from the stories of life forms adapting to a harsh environment to the modern search for energy. You may obtain more information on what the park offers at visitor centers near Lovell, Wyo., and Fort Smith, Mont. Most of all, we hope you will find your own place of solitude to relax and to enjoy the diversity and timelessness of this uncommon canyon waterland.

This resource is based on the following source:
National Park Service.  1996.  Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, 
     Montana/Wyoming.  National Park Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
National Park Service.  1996.  Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, 
     Montana/Wyoming.  National Park Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, 
     ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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