National Park Service

Greater Yellowstone Network (GRYN)

Inventory & Monitoring at
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Water Sampling at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Water Sampling at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Resource Briefs

Assessment Reports

Inventory Reports

Monitoring Reports

Protocol Documents

NPS LogoBighorn Canyon NRA Nature & Science Page
NPS LogoBighorn Canyon NRA Home Page
GRYN park map
Bighorn Canyon NRA lies East of the Yellowstone area and South of Billings, Montana. Click for larger image.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) includes approximately 68,000 acres between the Pryor and Bighorn mountain ranges on the Montana-Wyoming boundary. The park was established in 1966 to preserve the area’s natural and cultural resources and provide for public enjoyment after Yellowtail Dam was constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation on the Bighorn River. The resulting Bighorn Lake extends for approximately 71 miles (114 km) at full pool; the depth of Bighorn Canyon is approximately 1,000 feet deep at Devil Canyon and 2,500 feet deep on Bull Elk Ridge. Researchers have found Upper Jurassic Period fossils, bones, and fossil tracks in the park, and discovered the remains of Pleistocene animals in debris piles at cave entrances. Wildlife in Bighorn Canyon NRA includes bighorn sheep, wild horses, coyotes, mule deer, snakes, small mammals, mountain lions, bears, and more than 200 bird species. Vegetation communities in the park include desert shrubland, juniper woodland, mountain mahogany woodland, sagebrush steppe, basin grassland, riparian, and coniferous woodland.

GRYN monitoring efforts in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area focuses on climate, land use, water resources, and upland vegetation. The 39,000-acre Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, about one-fifth of which lies within Bighorn Canyon NRA, provides habitat for bighorn sheep and for approximately 160 wild horses managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Long-term vegetation monitoring will help compare areas inside and outside the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, and water resource monitoring will yield information about the valuable surface water sources in this semi-arid landscape. Many additional research studies and resource management activities take place in the park - to learn more please visit the park links above the map to the right.

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Last Updated: November 17, 2017 Contact Webmaster