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Saturday, July 11, 2015

7-11 Bighorn Canyon

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area                                  8 miles           608 Total

Driving to the Big Canyon was an experience.  We traveled the scenic byway through Bighorn National Forest.  The drive just kept getting higher and higher, 14 miles to the top.  Our ears were popping and my water bottle kept popping!!  The view from the top was incredible and a bit scary.  We passed a few runaway truck ramps.  We decided the only thing scarier than a runaway truck would be a runaway truck behind you!  The towns in this area of Wyoming are incredibly small.  The populations are posted on some - 255 was one!  And don't expect a town even though it may be lists on the map.  We saw the town of Carlile on the map and thought we'd look for a grocery store.  Well, there was a store, but it had closed down!  Wyoming has lots and lots and lots of land, and very little people!

There's nothing around as you drive into Bighorn Canyon area.  In my research, I had found a charter boat that went through this canyon and it only mentioned that kayakers could launch here too, we went to check it out.

This little known spot was absolutely an awesome paddle!!! We put in at Horseshoe Bend Marina which is at Mile Marker 58.   The marina structure is very small - no bigger than a trailer.  There's a beach there and many people were swimming.

We saw lots of boats throughout our paddle, many of them waterskiing.  Now let me tell you about the canyon.  The canyon walls surrounded us all throughout our paddle.  The rock colors varied from red to gray to white.  The sky was a clear blue and there were puffy, white clouds everywhere.  The wind was very strong and it helped some as we went up the canyon to Crooked Creek.  We went past Crooked Creek which is at Mile Marker 55, and we went up just past Mile Marker 54.  Every time the river had a bend, the wind seemed even stronger so we turned around.  It was much harder paddling coming back!  When a boat went by, we paddled over its wake, then the waves would hit the canyon will and come back at us from the other direction.   I can see now why the charter boat calls itself Hidden Treasures.  It was SO cool paddling through a canyon!!

We think the blue is some kind of pollen or dust coming off the sage here....

We would have driven up to Devil Canyon Overlook which apparently gives an incredible view of this canyon, but the roads were blocked off due to a fire there.  The area did look very dry around us, the temperature read 93 degrees.  Surrounding the canyon are fields designated Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge although we didn't see any horses.  I was so sad to leave this paddle, here is my parting shot - an unexpected river in the middle of a dry, arid landscape.

We got to Cody, Wyoming and stayed at the Holiday Inn here.  It was heaven!  We walked around town, ate at a restaurant along the main street and watched a gun shoot in front of the Irma hotel.  We had thought about going to the rodeo, but were so excited about sleeping in a bed and not a tent, that we went back to the hotel!
I really would need a cowboy hat if I stayed in Cody for much longer.

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