Sunday, September 2, 2018

Big Horn National Forest and Medicine Wheel

Bighorn National Forest and Medicine Wheel

 (Photo is  a resource found at

On the recommendation of a good friend, while we were in eastern Montana, we took a day trip to northern Wyoming to see the Medicine Wheel.  All she told us was "you won't regret it, it's an amazing experience."  And so it was.  The drive up was the first amazing thing.  No straight lines for us!  Highway 14 took us up a steep grade and around curves with breathtaking views all along the way.  From Dayton, Wyoming at 3,921 feet to Medicine Mountain at 9,642 feet was 48 miles of views and more views.

The drive up to Medicine Mountain is beautiful.

While on the way up we saw this guy soaring around from his launch site at about 6500'

Finally, we arrived at the Medicine Wheel:

There is no charge to enter the site.  There is a parking lot with bathrooms about 1.5 miles from the wheel site.  The walk has some pretty good up hill sections in both directions, and being over 9,000 feet in elevation, was a pretty challenging trek.  The wheel is at the top of the mountain and is fenced.  Only Native Americans are permitted within the fenced area.  Photographs are not allowed if someone is performing any spiritual practice within the wheel.

Walking the perimeter of the wheel, we felt some different energy sensations.  It was a spiritual and energetic experience we were glad we did.

The Medicine Wheel in the Bighorns attract quite a diverse group of people.  Some make the pilgrimage daily, others yearly and some like us visit for the first time.  When coming to the wheel there is a interpretive ranger at the gate who will explain the significance of the wheel and the mountain. There are also some informational kiosks there. 

The walk from the ranger station is about 1.5 miles each way. If you can't make the walk and have disabled plates on your vehicle they will allow you to drive to the top of Medicine Mountain but you may have to wait a bit as there are only three parking spots at the top and the rangers regulate who drives up and when.

History of the Medicine Wheel 

The Wyoming State Historical Society website states that the wheel was constructed 500 to 1500 years ago, and is 80 feet in diameter, consisting of 28 alignments of limestone boulders.  The area around the wheel has been used by Native Americans for centuries and has been a venerated site.  Go-Wyoming website states that the wheel's spokes are astronomically aligned with the rising and setting sun of the summer solstice, with three stars that fade as the sun rises on a summer morning, and the days of the lunar month.  There are about 100 medicine wheels in North America, and the Bighorn Medicine Wheel is considered the type (model) site.


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