THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS
When shooting an episode of The Backyard, we do only enough planning so that we can get to where we want to go and still be surprised, amazed, moved or inspired by the destination – much in the way you would be affected by visiting an iconic destination while on holiday. Most of the time, that works out great with regards to production of the show; the reactions we capture on film are genuine and earnest. When we get lost, it is often humorous and engaging, because we’ve all been lost before. Yet occasionally, we are reminded why it can be key to do at least a little in-depth planning. Take Episode 3, for example, when we went south in search of caves, gold, and ancient American artifacts.
We did not find any caves.
We did not find any gold.
We did not find any ancient American artifacts.
But we really, genuinely wanted to. After sitting on this episode for a few days, we decided that Outlaw Country deserved a revisit. We called up our friends at the local BLM office, and we received excellent directions to Rock Art Cave, as well as to legendary caves down along the river.
As for gold? Some secrets are just too good to give up…
It should be obvious to anyone and everyone tuning in to our program that we are not serious prospectors on the hunt for treasure or artifacts. It should also be obvious that we consider ourselves stewards of these incredible lands, and that we would never imagine disturbing a heritage site, or removing any ancient artifact, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. We believe in leaving every place we visit just as it was so that the next group of travelers can enjoy it. We trust that you will do the same, should you decide to explore the backyard, and the spectacular attractions of Bighorn Mountain Country. Also remember that many of these public lands are adjacent to private land parcels – please respect the property rights of all of our neighbors here in Wyoming.
Here is some handy information put together on prospecting from the fine folks at the Forest Service:
Most of the mineral bearing gravel on the Bighorn has been worked many times over the last century. still, to many people, searching for that big gold deposit is serious business. For others, it is simply an enjoyable recreational experience during the family vacation. Please note that you may not drive off of roads or trails for any of the activities described here.
Gold Panning is a common prospecting technique used to find small nuggets and flakes in stream sediments. A large shallow pan with sloped sides and a shovel are the basic tools needed. Stream banks are especially sensitive areas, and are easily susceptible to damage. These riparian areas provide critical water, food, and shelter to wildlife, and help protect the quality of the water. Please remove all litter and refrain from digging above the high water mark. Return any sand and gravel to the hole it was removed from. Simple panning, or the use of a sluice box that does not require mechanical means to operate are acceptable. In order to be acceptable, a dredge or mechanized sluice must be a small, portable unit with a suction hose diameter no larger than 3 inches, and no more than 10 horsepower.
Spillage of oil, gas, or grease must be avoided. All fueling & servicing activities, or storage of fuel and equipment should be well away from streams. Prospectors may only use methods & devices that do not cause resource damage, and are for casual collection.
For more information on prospecting, fossil collecting, rock hounding, and more, click here.
WHEN TO GO:
BLM recommends that you do not venture out into these areas during periods of inclement weather. Additionally, Outlaw Cave Road is closed during the winter from January 1 through April 14.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Outlaw Cave Campground
From Interstate 90, take exit 254 for Kaycee. Head west on Highway 191 for about 1 mile. Turn left onto Highway 190W for about 16 miles to Barnum. Turn left onto Bar C Road (sign for Middle Fork Powder River Management Area). This road is an improved all-weather access road and travels directly through the headquarters of the Hole-in-the-Wall ranch. The road will continue west another 2 miles past the boundary to the Middle Fork Management area, and then another 5 miles to the campground.
The campground is a no-fee site and is first come, first served. It includes 12 rustic camping spaces and one vault toilet. There is no water and no trash collection; please pack out all garbage.
Consider gearing up at one of our local shops or outfitters to keep Sheridan County’s outdoor industry thriving. Local outposts include Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, The Sports Stop, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Shipton’s, Tractor Supply Co., and Big Horn Trading.
WHERE TO STAY:
Not keen on spending a night in the woods? Consider one of the fantastic lodging options available in Sheridan County, and make a long day trip out of your Outlaw Cave Campground adventure. Visit sheridanwyoming.org for a full listing of local lodging properties.
For our full album of photos from this adventure, visit our archive here.
For all of our short films, videos, and other film-related content, follow us on YouTube by clicking here.
STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY:
At this time, there are no health and safety restrictions related to COVID-19 along this route. But please note that some retailers in Sheridan and Johnson Counties have implemented mask requirements (those that do offer masks for guests at the entrance). Click here for up-to-date COVID-19 information and resources. Observe Bureau of Land Management regulations when exploring these public lands.