Drive the Yellowstone Sweet 16 to Bighorn Mountain Country
The best and safest way over the Bighorn Mountains.
On your way to Yellowstone National Park, stop in the small Wyoming towns like Worland and Ten Sleep on U.S. Hwy. 16, known as the Sweet 16. It’s touted as the best and safest way over the Big Horn Mountains due to a less steep grade and gradual curves.
During summer, the towns come alive with festivals like the Nowoodstock Music Festival in Ten Sleep. It’s the longest running music festival in Wyoming. The annual Fourth of July Ten Sleep Rodeo features authentic western small-town rodeo. In August, Worland hosts the annual Pepsi WY State BBQ Championships and Bluegrass Festival featuring award-winning musical acts.
“I’ve been to Nowoodstock multiple times, and it has a feel good vibe that’s all it’s own,” says concert enthusiast Eric Robirds. “Good food from local trucks, crafts for sale and beverages from the Ten Sleep Brewing Company. It’s a relaxed crowd and some great eclectic music in an outdoor setting.”
For area history, head to the Washakie Museum and Cultural Center. You’ll see exhibits on Paleo-Indian mammoth hunters and Wyoming’s early settlers. The Last West exhibit covers cattle barons and the infamous Spring Creek Raid of 1909. There are plenty of hands-on activities for kids, too.
Beyond, check out the limestone walls of Ten Sleep Canyon, which attract rock climbers from across the nation. Climbers and other visitors always enjoy the Ten Sleep Climbing Festival held annually at the renowned Ten Sleep Brewing Company the last weekend in June. Head to Ten Sleep Brewing Co. for a beer and first-come, first-served camping sites for tents or small campers or vans. Check in at the brewery to pay for camping services and for where to park. Camping amenities include porta-potties, an electrical outlet, picnic tables and shower facilities.
For the camping enthusiast, the Bighorn National Forest has 32 different campgrounds and 14 picnic areas. Just 20 miles east of Ten Sleep on Hwy. 16, you can camp at the Lake View Campground, which sits on the northern end of Meadowlark Lake. It’s a gorgeous spot with clean pit toilets, potable water and a campground host on site. There are 11 single sites, 1 double site and 8 tent-only sites. You can reserve your spot in advance at 877-444-6777.The West Tensleep Trailhead is a great launching point to explore Cloud Peak Wilderness Area. You can hike to Mirror Lake and Lost Twin Lake in a 10.9-mile, out-and-back that takes you through beautiful meadows and alpine scenery. You’ll reach Mirror Lake first. Keep your eyes out for moose who inhabit the area.
Take US Hwy. 16 east of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, 18 miles. Turn left onto West Tensleep Lake Road Trail and drive seven miles to the end, which is West Tensleep Trailhead.
Cloud Peak Wilderness Area offers a ton of places where you can backpack and camp in the for an epic wilderness experience (you need to register with the forest service before going in to camp). There are more than 100 miles of trails to explore, lakes to fish in and more.
Off-road enthusiasts should check out the new Wyoming Backcountry Discovery Route, running from Baggs, Wyoming through the Big Horn Mountains and ends at the Montana border. It’s a rugged, multi-day adventure, so come prepared.
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Route through Worland and Ten Sleep, Wyoming