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nature trail bridge over creek near rock formation at medicine lodge archaeological site in wyoming

Nature trail bridge at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site. Photo: Park Facebook page

Six miles from Hyattville, at the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains, lies a most unique Wyoming state park – Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site. This prehistoric Native American site is located only 108 miles from Cheyenne and 93 miles from Caspar.

Nearby Hyattville was originally called Paintrock because of the paintings and drawings on the rocks along Medicine Lodge Creek. There are hundreds of these drawings (petroglyphs and pictographs) on a 700 foot sandstone cliff located inside of the park.

Every year many visitors arrive to see the dinosaur tracks, disappearing streams, tipi-rings and rock arches inside the park. And the scenic mountains and miles of trails provide them with endless opportunities to hike, bike, ride horses and ride their ATVs.

Activities

With this ultimate trailhead and hundreds of miles of trails to explore it’s a hikers and mountain bikers dream come true. When you’re tired from all of that exploring you can take a break and have a picnic or set up camp and roast some marshmallows.

If you’re interested in learning more about the archaeological site here you can check out the museum, Visitor Center, library and get a guided tour. This unique state park has a lot to offer.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your stay at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site:

Hiking at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

There may only be 2 miles of trails inside of the park but they join the hundreds of miles of non motorized, multi-use trails that are part of the land surrounding the park. And there are several overlooks tucked away that allow for spectacular views of the Big Horn Mountains.

These trails are ideal for hiking, walking and horseback riding, as a lot of these trails are on wide open land. The Nature Trail and Deer Path Trail are both short and easy trails and a good place to start your journey.

Biking at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

Mountain biking is very popular here with the hills, mountains and plains all around. And many trails are maintained for year round use.

ATVs at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

This area is considered one of the best public road/trail systems for Off Road Vehicles in the entire state of Wyoming. And part of this is because of the ease of being able to just ride directly from your campsite and out into miles of prime territory.

You can ride year round. Many of the trails and roads are maintained throughout the winter except Dry Fork Canyon Trail which is closed yearly to motorized vehicles from December until June 1.

Fishing at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

Medicine Lodge Creek flows through the park and past most of the campsites here. There are 5 miles of creek prime for year round fishing and lots of brown trout just waiting to be caught.

Rainbow and brook trout can be caught at nearby streams (Paintrock Creek and Paintrock Lake) about a 2 mile drive outside of the park. And for those nervous about falling there are 4 areas along the creek that are ADA compliant and provide an easy navigable concrete path down to the creek.

Swimming at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

The 5 miles of creek allow for plenty of fun swimming and tubing. And so does the convenience of having access to the water right from your front door (of your tent, camper or RV).

Winter Sports at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

From December through February each year trails and roads are maintained for snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. 16 miles of groomed rideable trails adjoin the park and Dry Fork Canyon provides incredible scenery to those on skis or snowshoes.

Wildlife at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

Since Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site is surrounded by mountains, creek and wide open plains you’re sure to get a glimpse of at least a few different species while visiting. 100 plus species of birds have been sighted here including eagles, wild turkeys, sage grouse and many migrating varieties.

And many mammals roam here as well, so keep your eyes open and you may see deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mink, mountain lion or black bear.

Pets at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

Pets are welcome as long as they remain leashed and cleaned up after.

Camping at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

There are 28 campsites spread throughout the park that are suitable for tents, RVs, campers or trailers. Only a few sites have electric hookups though so make sure to ask when making a reservation.

Each campsite has a picnic table and there are restrooms and water nearby. There are also 2 playgrounds and horseshoe pits for additional things to do.

The Medicine Lodge Group Area is a group shelter (24×36) with lighting and electrical hookups and space around it to comfortably place 20 RVs, campers or tents. This is a great option for reunions, picnics, group camping and other special events.

There is also a horse corral located near the main parking area which can accommodate multiple horses for those wanting to stay overnight and keep their horses closeby.

Museum, Library and Visitor Center at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site

The Medicine Lodge Creek area has been continuously occupied by humans for at least 10,000 years. The archaeological site here has some wonderful examples of the many peoples who lived here and is one of the major rock art localities of the Northwestern Plains.

The area was purchased in 1972 by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and turned into a wildlife habitat. The park was then developed, in 1973, from a small portion of the habitat and around the Dig that had exposed 60 levels of human existence here. This is evidenced by fire pits, stone tools, beads and pottery shards.

The Frison Library is a small research library on site located inside of the red barn at Park Headquarters. This is a great place to take a quiet break and learn about archaeology, anthropology, wildlife and the history of the west. There is even a children’s section.

The Visitor Center has many artifacts on display and information on the history of the Paleo Indians, ranching, homesteading and other interesting historical facts. And the museum has 3 locations throughout the park, each with its own historic log cabin and interpretation of the site. Guided tours of these sites are offered during the summer.

Park Location

Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site
4800 Co Rd 52
Hyattville, WY 82428
Phone: 307.469.2234

Website
Reservations

Park Hours:

Open year round 6:00am–10:00pm

Visitor Center Hours:

Closed October 31–April 30

Please Be Aware:
Petroglyphs and Pictographs are fragile Do Not touch or chalk these figures

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site: