Cattle Drive Vacation – Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Lovell, Wyoming isn’t just the home base of Dryhead Ranch’s Wyoming working cattle ranch vacations. It is also a small town located smack dab in the middle of an amazing showcase of Western cattle drive history. Located near the border between Wyoming and Montana, Lovell and dozens of small towns just like it dot the length of the Bighorn River like jewels on a necklace. During the post-Civil War cattle boom of the late 19th Century, outposts like this were essential to serve the needs of cowboys, merchants, and adventurers of all sorts during the annual Winter cattle drives.

Cattle Drive Vacation – A Proud Heritage

For a slender river valley clinging the edge of one of the West’s most dynamic mountain ranges, the Bighorn Valley is just plain jam-packed with interesting attractions. From the Medicine Wheel National Monument to the Bighorn National Forest, the Lovell, Wyoming area is teeming with interesting attractions to check out.

Though the cattle industry is no longer the behemoth it once was, the Bighorn Basin still maintains a proud cowboy heritage. Reminders of its vital past and its promising future are everywhere. Residents of this rugged and sparsely-populated land have endeavored to preserve its rugged beauty and rich natural resources. Perhaps nothing speaks more to their success than the spectacular Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

A New Park

The United States Bureau of Reclamation is not exactly known for their environmental responsibility. Responsible for hundreds of hydroelectric, irrigation, and drinking water reservoir projects throughout the United States, the United States Bureau of Reclamation has at times been criticized for the effects its dam projects have had on the landscape inevitably inundated by such an endeavor. There can be no doubt, however, that the construction of the Yellowtail Dam has placed Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area’s 120,296 acres under public protection for the foreseeable future. This means that, despite the dam and resulting reservoir, a vast swath of land straddling the border between Montana and Wyoming is now preserved in all its natural glory for generations to come.

Yellowtail Dam

The Yellowtail Dam itself has been embroiled in controversy since its construction was proposed in 1944. First proposed as a cooperative venture between the Crow indigenous peoples and the Reclamation Service (later the United States Bureau of Reclamation), the terms of the agreement that resulted in the park continued to shift up until the construction of the Dam. Accompanying factionalism eventually tore the Crow Nation in two. Even the name of the Yellowtail Dam is significant in this respect: Robert Yellowtail, the tribal chairman during the initial negotiations in the 1940’s, opposed the plan.

Historic Cattle Ranch Vacation Spots

Take some time out of your busy cattle drive vacation itinerary to explore the area around Lovell, Wyoming. In a place this big, there is no way you can see all that the Bighorn Valley has to offer… but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!


Of special interest to those planning a working ranch vacation are the four historic ranches located within the boundaries of the park. If not for hard-working cattlemen, there would be no ranches to water and no houses to power and thus no need for a dam and thus no need for a park. Out here, form follows function. We can thank the hard-working pioneer ranchers of the 19th century for Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area’s bounty and splendor. But, better than that, we can fall in love with the land they called home during a authentic ranch vacation at Dryhead Ranch. During our cattle drive vacation retreats, we follow in the hoof prints of those first cowboys. If you want to see what it was like to see the sweeping vistas and craggy peaks for yourself, book your own working ranch vacation with Dryhead Ranch today.

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