Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
- Things to See, Lakes and Rivers, Watchable Wildlife, Wilderness Areas, Things to Do, Boating/ Boating Tours/ Water Craft Rentals, Camping, Scenic Drives, Fishing/ Fishing Access Sites, Hiking/Backpacking
- General info
At first glance, time seems to have stopped at Bighorn Canyon. The lake and the steep-sided canyons provide a peaceful setting for those seeking a break from the daily routine. The focus of the area is 71 -mile-long Bighorn Lake, created by Yellowtail Dam near Fort Smith. Dedicated in 1968, the dam provides electric power, water for irrigation, flood control, and recreation. Boating, water skiing, fishing, swimming, and sightseeing are the main attractions.
While you enjoy the play of light and shadow on rock and water, take time to contemplate the changes that the land and the life upon it have undergone. Time and water are keys to the canyon, where the land has been shaped by moving water since upheavals of the Earth’s crust built the Pryor and Bighorn mountains millions of years ago. For 15 miles upstream from the dam, the lake bisects a massive, arching anticline, exposing fossils that tell of successive times when this land was submerged under a shallow sea, when it was a tropical marsh, and when its conifer forests were inhabited by dinosaurs. Humans arrived here more than 10,000 years ago, living as hunters and gatherers. In modern times people have further altered the
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