A Lazy Day of Mountain Hiking at Sheep Mountain, WY

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Go West, Young Lad • Tags: mountainsbird photographydams • Places: Wapiti Campground Sheep Mountain, Snoshone National Forest Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center Fat Racks BBQ, Cody, WY

Hello, friends!

Welcome back to another exciting episode of Go West, Young Lad in which our intrepid narrator, "Steve" makes their way from Pennsylvania to Seattle, alone in a station wagon.

A pickup truck makes its way into the Cody Mountain Tunnel on US Highway 14/16/20
A pickup truck makes its way into the Cody Mountain Tunnel on US Highway 14/16/20

Last time, "Steve" did probably a solid 500 miles of driving in a single day. This time "Steve" decides it's time for some R&R.

Except, for this "Steve" character, R&R actually means... climbing up a mountain.

Mom, you are welcome to skip reading this one.

Anyone else, read on.


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Plans for R & R

Having deeply enjoyed my last day, especially the stretches in the Bighorns, I really wanted to take my time and go on a longer hike. With this in mind, I drove out of Greybull, through the town of Cody, Wyoming, and away from cell reception and restaurants.

I was not too interested in checking out the Buffalo Bill show or trying to have a wild west experience, so I wasn't too interested in Cody itself.

The date was the 18th of September. My campground reservations for Yellowstone National Park began on the 19th. I thought it might be an interesting idea to stop and stay somewhere close outside the park boundaries, and maybe explore an interesting and less popular area.

The Snoshone National Forest was home to a number of campgrounds, with first come first serve sites open. I picked the Wapiti campground because it had the nicest, greenest, most pleasant site I came across.

After that, it was time to choose a hike. I consulted pre-downloaded maps from the janky National Forest app, and vague memories of looking at AllTrails reviews the night before.

My lack of reception helped me choose Sheep Mountain. My sources showed a trail that seemed easy to find, and well-traversed. In other words, a place where I could find the trailhead, and subsequently find the trail, and probably find my way back without issue...


Sheep Mountain

The trailhead was some distance from where I parked, traversed by a gravel track that consisted more of potholes than actual road. The trail, consisted of two parallel tracks used by horseback riders, which made its way up & up.


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Trail Information
Name Sheep Mountain
Type supposedly a loop
Location Snoshone National Forest
State WY
Country USA
Miles 6
Check out the trails index for information on more trails!

The sparse vegetation made for clean, beautiful views of the way down.


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Eventually, the trail dispersed into quite a few unruly forks, all of which were potentially valid options, thanks to the National Forest's "open hiking policy."

I picked one and continued up it, thankful to be using a trekking pole.

Eventually, the going got pretty darn steep and the spur I chose seemed to disappear. I figured it was best to turn back.


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I was curious if I could grab the other parallel track on my way down, so I took a slightly different, less-well worn path down for some duration.

And there, I heard the distinctive warning sound of a rattlesnake, somewhere. I stopped in my tracks, hear racing.

With care, I backtracked. And I stuck to the more well-treaded pathway for the rest of my route down.


Buffalo Bill Dam

With that excitement done for the day, I checked out the Buffalo Bill Dam. (And hoping I could check my phone for messages with some WiFi while I was there...)


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The dam was originally constructed in the early 1900s as part of a scheme to irrigate the surroundings and allow for agricultural production. It also serves as a source of hyrdroelectric power.


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Apparently in normal times you can walk around atop the dam, but those pathways didn't seem to be open when I was there. Even just admiring the reservoir at ground level, I very nearly lost my hat in the heavy winds.


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"Relaxation"

Though I didn't want to spend a fairly long drive backtracking, I did want a hot meal. Using the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center WiFi, I decided to stop at a barbeque joint back in Cody before returning to my campground for an evening's sleep.

It was... merely satisfactory.


Back at the campground, I enjoyed taking a breath and taking in the scenery. Robins fluttered about back and forth, and grouses ambled through the bushes.


After taking some bird photos (most terrible & blurry), I hit the hay, excited to start my visit to Yellowstone the next morning.