Best Scenic Drives Near Sheridan
You’ve set up basecamp in Sheridan County and now the open roads are calling; scenic routes near Sheridan offer postcard perfect panoramas and abundant wildlife encounters. Traverse the Bighorn Mountain range via a Scenic Byway; there are three Scenic Byways that wind through lush forests, along gurgling creeks and snow-capped mountain peaks. For a scenic route between Sheridan and Gillette, take historic Highway 14 through Clearmont for a glimpse at Sheridan’s stunning countryside, quintessential small town living, and a pace all your own.
The Top Scenic Byways in Sheridan County, WY
Bighorn Scenic Byway
Length: 58 miles (93 km)
Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Best Seasons: All
Follows US Highway 14 from Ranchester and Dayton north of Sheridan and through the Bighorn National Forest, includes spectacular views such as Fallen City (a field of Madison Formation limestone blocks), Steamboat Point, along with campgrounds, accessible hiking trails, picnic areas and opportunities for fishing at Sibley Lake, Prune Creek and Little Tongue River.
At Burgess Junction, the Bighorn Scenic Byway continues on U.S. 14 toward the towns of Shell and Greybull. Watch for moose and deer around Burgess Junction and as you’re winding through the red, rocky walls of Shell Canyon, look for Rocky Mountain bluebirds and mourning doves among the juniper and sagebrush. U.S. Forest Service personnel say those with sharp eyes may spot coyotes, bobcats and the very elusive mountain lion. Stretch your legs at Shell Falls before driving through the quaint town of Shell (population 50) to the town of Greybull.
1. Sibley Lake
Sibley Lake is easily accessible year round. In the winter months, the Sibley Lake Nordic Trails provide 15 miles of groomed trails that offer a variety of loops and routes for skiiers and snowshoers and features a warming hut to kick back and enjoy the surroundings. During the summer, the lake is the perfect picnic spot and playground for non-motorized boats and paddle boards while the shoreline is dotted with fishermen casting their lines for rainbow, brown and brook trout.
2. Shell Falls
The Forest Service calls Shell Falls the “Thundering Heartbeat of the Bighorn Mountains” for good reason; over the past million years Shell Creek has incised a deep chasm through the sedimentary stone and ancient granite.
The 120-foot Shell Falls draws thousands of visitors each year – the location features an interpretive site right off the Bighorn Scenic Byway, as well as a boardwalk to get closer to the falls – and serves as one of the most popular attractions in the entire region.
3. Antelope Butte
Less than 60 miles from Sheridan beckons the perfect spot to shred some powder, the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area. With close to 30 downhill trails and over 8 miles of nordic trails, nothing beats Bighorn Mountain powder or the views that come with it. In the summer months, the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area plays host to festivals and events.
4. Cutler Hill
The Cutler Hill Trails are a wintertime delight for fatbikers, nordic skiiers, snowshoers and their pup pals. The trails consist of approximately 3 miles of packed routes through heavily forested terrain that average from 8100’ to 8600’ in elevation. Blue diamonds on the trees and directional maps posted on trail intersections ensure that the trails are well marked and easy to follow.
5. Tongue River & Tongue River Canyon
This trail follows the Tongue River, winding through the sheer, limestone walled canyon of Tongue River Canyon. On top, beautiful views of tributary canyons, wildflower, and aspen clones. For fishermen, the Tongue River is a great place to catch Browns and Rainbows.
Cloud Peak Skyway
Length: 47 miles (76 km)
Time: 1 hr 15 min (from Buffalo to Ten Sleep)
Best Seasons: All
The Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway is the southern-most route across the Bighorn Mountains. The designated 47-mile stretch of the Scenic Byway, or U.S. 16 can be reached via Ten Sleep from the West or Buffalo from the east.
Aptly named, the Cloud Peak Skyway provides stunning views of Cloud Peak, the highest peak in the Bighorns soaring up at 13,167 feet.
1. Meadowlark Recreation Area
The Meadowlark Recreation Area in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities, drawing RV enthusiasts, boaters, and campers alike. Surrounded by stunning mountain vistas and tranquil lakes, the area provides an ideal setting for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a diverse range of activities. With amenities such as a commercial lodge, access to the Bighorn Ski Area, and Nordic ski trails at Willow Park, visitors can enjoy year-round adventures in this picturesque and well-equipped destination.
2. Crazy Woman Canyon
For an “off-the-beaten path” adventure, take the scenic drive on Crazy Woman Road along Crazy Woman Creek through Crazy Woman Canyon. (Yes, there are several stories and legends regarding the namesake) This unpaved, sometimes narrow and rough road is 13.2 miles long (21.24 km) and takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive. The view out your window in Crazy Woman Canyon is filled with scenery: gurgling creeks, waterfalls, towering cliffs and meadows. Spring and all are especially colorful times to visit, but do check the road conditions before embarking on this route.
3. Powder River Pass
The most common tree covering the 1,115,073 acre Bighorn National Forest is lodgepole pine. Generally the lodgepole pine reaches maturity in 100 to 120 years, however in the Powder River Pass area, trees are known to exceed 500 years in age and as such, are classified as old growth. Sitting at 9,666 feet, the Powder River Pass is the highest part of the Cloud Peak Skyway and receives an average annual snowfall of 140 inches. This is a vital spot for snowpack as it serves as a headwaters area for many downstream creeks and rivers and serves as a water source for agriculture and industry in the area.
4. Loaf Mountain Overlook
The Loaf Mountain Overlook offers a breathtaking panoramic view of pristine wilderness, characterized by rugged peaks, lush valleys, and abundant wildlife. The scenery is particularly enchanting during the summer and fall months, making these seasons the best times to visit for optimal visibility and an immersive experience of the area’s natural beauty.
5. James T. Saban Fire Lookout
Constructed in 1942 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the station was utilized until 1972 as a way to spot and report forest fires in the vicinity. Originally named “High Park Lookout” it was renamed in honor of James T. Saban, a local fire fighting legend and has been added to the National Registry of Historical Places. Enjoy the short (.6 mile) hike to reach the lookout tower and be rewarded by stunning panoramic views of Meadowlark Lake.
Medicine Wheel Passage
Length: 27 miles (43 km)
Time: 1 hr 25 min (from Dayton to Lovell)
Best Seasons: Summer and fall
Follows U.S. Highway 14 through Ranchester and Dayton north of Sheridan, includes spectacular views of Fallen City (a field of Madison Formation limestone blocks), Steamboat Point, along with campgrounds, picnic areas and opportunities for fishing in Sibley Lake, Prune Creek and Little Tongue River.
At Burgess Junction, the Medicine Wheel Passage continues on U.S. 14A toward the town of Lovell. This byway is open seasonally from May through November and has a 10% grade in places, making it steeper than the Bighorn Scenic Byway. Watch for moose and deer around Burgess Junction and Rocky Mountain bluebirds and mourning doves. This byway provides stunning views of the Bighorn Basin below as well as a few notable stops. Stretch your legs at Observation Point (Elevation 9,430 ft) or take a small hike to see the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark or Porcupine Falls. Before reaching the town of Lovell, take a small detour to the Bighorn National Recreation Area.
1. Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark
The Medicine Wheel, the remarkable National Historic Landmark and archaeological site, was first constructed by Plains Indians between 300-3,000 years ago. Built near the summit of Medicine Mountain at 9,642-feet, the Medicine Wheel has significant astrological meaning, and is still an important ceremonial site.
2. Porcupine Falls
Accessible from May through September, the Porcupine Falls Trail is a short (less than 1 mile) yet steep descent down to the falls with a more steep climb on the way back out. The trail is worth the climb as it sports an impressive 100 ft waterfall into a cold mountain pool below.
3. Bucking Mule Falls
Hike the Bucking Mule Falls Trail through forests, along creeks, open meadows and fields of wildflowers to reach the Bucking Mule Falls overlook, where you will be rewarded with 360 degree views of Bucking Mule Falls and the surrounding mountain vistas. This spectacular waterfall cascades more than 600 feet into the Devil Canyon and offers excellent panoramic views.
4. North Tongue River
Winding through the meadows and pine along Highway 14A, the North Tongue River is the perfect spot to cast a line or to spot the (not-so-friendly) neighborhood moose. Catch up with the Tongue River Trail for incredible views of the Twin Buttes, wildflowers, pine and aspen and other various wildlife.
5. Burgess Junction
In the heart of the Bighorns, approximately one hour’s drive from Sheridan is Burgess Junction, where Highway 14 splits from Highway 14A. It is at this point on your scenic tour that you must chose between Highway 14 (Bighorn Scenic Byway) heading towards Greybull and Highway 14A (Medicine Wheel Passage) heading towards Lovell.
The Burgess Junction Visitor Center is located 2 miles from Burgess Junction. Stop by for information and resources from the friendly staff, shop for souvenirs and snacks, have a picnic, enjoy the beautiful interpretive walking trail and explore the Bighorn National Forest. Open seasonally; closed for the winter months.
Hwy 14 From Sheridan to Gillette
Length: 109 miles (175 km)
Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Best Seasons: Spring
Take historic Highway 14 between Sheridan and Gillette for a glimpse at stunning countryside, quintessential small town living, and a pace all your own. The drive showcases the charm of Ucross, known for its artistic retreat and serene landscapes. Continuing through Leiter, travelers can appreciate the historical remnants of this former mining town. The scenic route encompasses rolling hills, vast prairies, and glimpses of the Bighorn Mountains, providing a visually appealing journey through the heart of Wyoming’s varied terrain.
1. Ucross Foundation
Ucross, Wyoming, is renowned for the Ucross Foundation, an artists’ retreat and creative haven set on a historic 20,000-acre ranch. This cultural gem hosts residencies for writers, visual artists, and composers, providing a serene backdrop of rolling hills and open spaces. Visitors can explore the inspiring natural surroundings, including the Park at Ucross and appreciate the Ucross Art Gallery and Ranch at Ucross, making it a destination that seamlessly blends art, nature, and a deep connection to the Wyoming landscape.
Arvada, population 33, sits on the very eastern border of Sheridan County, along the bank of the Powder River. The heart of the area and the center of activity in town is the Arvada Bar and Grill. Drop by for live music and potluck dinners and a true taste of quintessential small town living.
Leiter, Wyoming has a historical legacy tied to the late 19th-century gold rush and mining boom. Established in the late 1800s, the town flourished briefly as a mining community, drawing prospectors in search of precious metals. However, as the mining industry declined, Leiter gradually declined in population (current population is 3).
Clearmont is a charming small town nestled amid picturesque landscapes, offering visitors a tranquil retreat with its stunning views of the Bighorn Mountains. Rich in Western heritage, Clearmont features historic sites such as the Clearmont Town Jail and Branding Iron Park providing a glimpse into the area’s cowboy history, while its natural beauty, including nearby creeks and rolling hills, adds to the town’s allure.
5. Spotted Horse
Spotted Horse, Wyoming, has a history rooted in the railroad industry, serving as a key stop along the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in the early 20th century. Though the town has diminished in size (its current population is 2) its historical significance remains evident in the remnants of old railway structures. The Spotted Horse Store was built in teh and visitors can appreciate the region’s prairie landscapes and the nearby Powder River, offering a peaceful and historically resonant atmosphere.
Scenic Drive Travel Tips
Wyoming is known for vast landscapes, varying weather conditions and wildlife encounters. Follow these tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
- Look up weather conditions.
- Check vehicle maintenance before travel.
- Pack appropriate clothes, food, and water.
- Bring chains, tires suited for potential snow.
- Map out your route and points of interest.
- Call 511 or visit WY Dept of Transportation for road condition updates, closures.
- Bring camera or phone to capture landscapes.
- Ensure your gas tank is full before setting off.
Discover More Pretty Drives Near Sheridan
Beauty abounds around Sheridan County; hit the pavement (or gravel) and discover your own scenic route or consider a tour through the wooded community of Story or the scenic backroads around the town of Big Horn. The roads and possibilities are endless.