If you don’t know about it, you could easily miss experiencing the country’s third largest canyon, dotted by wild horses, bighorn sheep, boats and cliff dwellings.
Just an hour east of Cody, Wyo., head to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area where you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes and pedal boats at the Horseshoe Bend Marina. Or let someone else navigate and go on guided boat tour or fishing charter with Hidden Treasure Charters. During Hidden Treasure’s two-hour sunset cruise, enjoy heavy appetizers or a meal as you watch the sun transform the colors of the canyon walls and your captain shares the history of the area.
“The colorations are incredible on the limestone walls,” says Mark Garrison, lead captain and co-owner of Hidden Treasure Charters, noting Hwy. 14A (which brings you to the recreation area) is the shortest and most scenic route to Yellowstone in that corner of Wyoming. “They are basically Wyoming’s skyscrapers. We are a great stopover from Cody to Rushmore and Rushmore to Yellowstone.”
Soak in the scene on the deck of The Rusty Anchor at Horseshoe Bend Marina, also run by Hidden Treasures Charters. It serves breakfast, lunch or dinner. Along with burgers and BBQ options, there are vegetarian options like veggie burgers. Next door is the Sea Store where you can purchase marina supplies, ice cream, soda, beer and other sundries.
The Horseshoe Bend Marina opens the Friday before Memorial Day and closes Labor Day (but some years will stay open longer). Two campgrounds in the area are first-come, first-served. The Horseshoe Bend Campground offers 20 improved lots with water and power for $20/night and 46 unimproved lot equipped with fire rings and tables and flushing toilets for $10/night. Eighteen miles away is the Barry’s Landing Campground with a number of campsites equipped with fire rings, picnic tables and pit toilets.
Find the Horseshoe Bend Marina about 15 minutes from Lovell, Wyo.