The Mountain West is often overlooked among those who love to peep fall colors, given that summer can turn to winter out here in an instant. But some years, fall colors can spring to life and stick around for weeks, and even months, on end – lighting up Bighorn Mountain Country in a kaleidoscope of epic autumn color. With that, there are countless destinations that offer spectacular scenery and epic panoramas, but we have narrowed it down to these 12 Great Spots to See Fall Colors in Sheridan County.
TONGUE RIVER CANYON
Tongue River Canyon offers spectacular views from the moment you hit the trailhead. This trail comes off State land near Amsden Creek Wildlife Habitat Area and can be accessed year-round. The canyon is marked with shear limestone walls, towering outcrops, and ancient keyholes. The further you hike, the better the views of tributary canyons, wildflowers, and aspen clones.
This area is managed by the US Forest Service. The trail begins on state land at the end of County Road (CR) 92 and ends at Forest System Road (FSR) 196.
The trees that line Main Street in downtown Sheridan pop in shades of red, yellow and orange in the fall, and the best place to see them, and the entirety of downtown set against a backdrop of the stunning Bighorn Mountains, is from the skybridge at the Best Western Sheridan Center. Bonus points for popping into Bistro 307 after you capture your photo to reward yourself with a fall treat.
CONNOR BATTLEFIELD STATE HISTORIC SITE
Connor was the single most important engagement of the Powder River Expedition of 1865 and caused the Arapaho to ally with the Sioux and Cheyenne at the Fetterman Fight a year later. The park has picnic areas, a playground, overnight camping facilities, fishing access as well as historic interpretations.
MALCOLM WALLOP PARK
Malcolm Wallop Park, located at Sheridan’s north interchange, features miles of public pathways, spectacular views of the Bighorn Mountains and Big Goose Creek, and connections to the many miles of Sheridan’s pathways. Formerly known as North Park, this is an excellent place to get out for a run, a bike ride, or to walk the dog under towering cottonwood trees.
THE PARK AT UCROSS
Ucross Foundation describes this stunning park best: “over the course of thirty years, Ucross Foundation has restored and preserved historic structures, conserved natural resources, and built a thriving sanctuary for creative thought. The Park at Ucross offers a welcoming introduction to the tranquility of Ucross, which has inspired nearly 1,600 artists from all over the world, gives families in the community the opportunity for firsthand experience of nurturing the earth through the planting of trees and flowers, provides a contemplative space for travelers, friends, and neighbors, and recognizes friends and loved ones with trees planted in their honor.”
STORY FISH HATCHERY
Located in a scenic ponderosa pine forest at the base of the Bighorn Mountains, the hatchery provides visitors with a unique opportunity to observe fish and local wildlife. The original hatchery buildings were built in 1909 to serve the needs of northern Wyoming. Throughout the years, Story Hatchery has undergone significant renovations to keep up with new technology in fish culture and is the oldest continuously operating hatchery in the state. Today the hatchery grounds consist of several areas of interest. First, there is the large redwood-sided hatchery building that contains the visitor center, restrooms, and a trough room where smaller fish and the golden trout brood stock are held (a brood stock is an adult fish breeding group). In front of this building are raceways that hold the brown trout brood stock. Behind the hatchery building sit the vacuum degassing buildings, brood building and settling ponds. The tan and green brood building houses three different brood stocks (Eagle Lake rainbow, brook and lake trout) and includes a spawning area and large, modern egg incubation room.
KOLTISKA PUMPKIN PATCH
Beautiful fall colors are just a bonus of visiting the Koltiska Pumpkin Patch, enjoying its 16th year in 2020. The pumpkin patch is all about enjoying time with family while you pick your own pumpkins, enjoy hayrides and the farm animal zoo, and more. Check the Koltiska Pumpkin Patch Facebook for opening dates; Koltiska’s Pumpkin Patch is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Earlier hours for groups are available upon request.
The pumpkin patch is located at 120 Cat Creek Road. Take East Fifth Street (Highway 336) and follow the orange signs. For more information contact the Koltiskas at 307-737-2272.
Found at – you guessed it – the south end of the City of Sheridan, South Park winds along Little Goose Creek, and features outdoor recreation space, more spectacular views of the Bighorn Mountains, fishing holes, and access to the recreation options at Emerson Park. There is ample parking here, and access to Sheridan’s pathway system.
WELCH RANCH RECREATION AREA
The Welch Ranch area includes more than 1,700 acres of open space along the Tongue River approximately 10 miles north of Sheridan, Wyoming. This area offers excellent hiking, wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing just a short drive from Sheridan. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department releases pheasants in the fall for hunting purposes. The Tongue River flows through the recreation area and offers opportunities for non-motorized river trips.
Welch Ranch has limited visitor services; there is no bathroom facility, garbage collection, or potable water. Please plan accordingly if planning to stay overnight and practice Leave No Trace principles. Dispersed camping is allowed; however, the area is closed to motorized use, and target shooting is strictly prohibited.
To reach Welch Ranch from Interstate 90, take exit 339 and head east. Go over the railroad tracks and turn left (north) onto WY 338. Go about 5.5 miles. The first parking area will be on your left, just before the Tongue River, and the second parking area will be on the right, just after the river.
THE BRINTON MUSEUM
The Brinton Museum, located on the 620-acre historic Quarter Circle A Ranch in Big Horn, just a short drive from Sheridan, offers an authentic view into the life and lifestyle of a Western gentleman and art collector who was a patron and friend of many of the most celebrated 19th and 20th- century Western artists.
The Brinton Ranch house, originally built in 1892, was expanded in 1927-28 to accommodate the Brinton’s extensive collections of Indian artifacts, art, historic documents, books and over 600 oils, watercolors and sketches by American artists including: Audobon, Borein, Gollings, Kleiber, Remington and Russell, to name a few.
The setting is superb; the Brinton Ranch house is set in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains along the Little Goose Creek and surrounded by immaculate grounds, gardens and trees. Several remarkable and well-preserved outbuildings are spaced around the grounds, including a carriage barn, saddle barn, milk house and the rustic Little Goose Creek Lodge, built in 1928 as a retreat and to accommodate the numerous trophies from his hunting trips and safaris.
LITTLE GOOSE CANYON TRAIL
Little Goose Canyon is a hidden gem not far from the City of the Sheridan. Scenic vistas of the Bighorn Mountains are punctuated with elk herds, moose, deer, crystal clear trout-filled creeks, and aspen, cottonwood, spruce, ponderosa, and lodgepole pine.
This trail is not well marked as it is commonly used by ranchers checking livestock. Be respectful of the surrounding land and stay on the trail. Keep dogs under control and please avoid driving on wet roads. You can park either before the bridge or after the bridge at the beginning of the trail. Turn left once you arrive at Little Goose Ranch and the end of the trail is approximately 3 miles down the road where you will be welcomed by a clear view of the rest of the canyon.
SHERIDAN VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER
One of the greatest views in the entire county is also one of the easiest to come by. From the Sheridan Visitor Information Center, you can see much of the Bighorn Mountains, including the peaks of the Cloud Peak Wilderness; the amazing blanket of fall colors that run down along high mountain streams and into town; historic downtown Sheridan, historic Fort MacKenzie, the city’s iconic water tower, and so much more. And while you are here, you can stock up on information and anecdotes, and find out where to make the best of your time in beautiful Sheridan County.
Shawn Parker | Sheridan Country Travel & Tourism