Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Byway

Thousands of feet atop northern Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains lies an 80-foot-wide mystery made of stone. There are as many legends surrounding its origin as there are theories regarding its purpose. Some are sure it’s a monument built in tribute to a leader. Others maintain it serves as a calendar, its 28 components aligning with the sunrise at summer solstice. And then there are those who believe it is a navigational tool, pointing the way to anyone who holds the key. While we may never know the full story behind the carefully placed pieces of limestone, we do know the Bighorn Medicine Wheel was and continues to be a powerful and sacred place for Native Americans of dozens of different tribes throughout history. The best way to view this archeological wonder is on the Medicine Wheel Scenic Byway, a 27-mile route through the Bighorn National Forest that pays homage to the Bighorn Medicine Wheel. An ancient trail leads to the ceremonial site, but know that a visit to the Wheel calls for a moment of reverence, a time to slow down and connect with a culture that might be unlike your own. Wind through steep canyon terrains, watch as the sagebrush-covered desert turns into dense mountain forest, and breath fresh alpine air as prayer cloths wave in the Medicine Mountain winds. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is one of the largest and best-preserved medicine wheels on the northern Plains, and no drive along the Medicine Wheel Scenic Byway is complete without a visit to this important and spiritual site.

From the Ancients, Preserved in Time

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