Big Horn Mountain Ride, featuring Paintrock Canyon

Big Horn Mountain Ride

Featuring Paintrock Canyon

Click here to view a PDF Map of the Big Horn Mountain Ride

The hot sun of July sends us off to the high country, to escape the heat. We will saddle our horses, riding from Ten Sleep to the Cloud Peak Wilderness, in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. We start out in the red dirt, and end up on top of granite mountains, with sparkling streams, lined with wildflowers, leading to trout-filled lakes.  The smell of pine trees is refreshing in the cool mountain air.  Blue ribbon trout fishing and world-class mountain climbing are there for the taking.

Arrival Day: Guests are picked up at the Worland Airport, or Cody and transported to Ten Sleep, pop. 280.  There you will be taken to Belinda’s house, 2.8 miles south of town.  There are 2 bunk rooms which sleep up to 2 people each.  There is also a cabin out back with a double bed.  We will get settled in and have orientation, and get to know each other a little better.  We will also have a look at the horses and the tack.  Delicious meals will be home-cooked, or catered, at the house. The views of the sunset are great from the deck, in the backyard. The view of the horses in the front yard is excellent, too!

Day Two: After everyone is assigned a horse, the wrangler will demonstrate saddling and help riders to tack up and familiarize themselves with western or ‘neck’ reining.  We will be packing a lunch.  Horn bags are provided for each rider, however you need to bring your own water bottles; 2 – one quart or liter bottles.  We begin the ride from the house. We will be riding in some rough country with hidden cutbanks and some rocky ridges.  It is a good place to familiarize yourself with some of the natural hazards we will encounter during the week.  There are also some fabulous views of giant red cliffs and the Big Horn Mountains rising beyond them.  It reminds you of a western movie, at times.  The pace will vary according to terrain, but there are some great places to open up the horses and make some fast tracks.  There are also some places that are steep and brushy with junipers and sagebrush, that might make you want to hang on to the saddle horn.

Day Three:  Today, we saddle up and head for the Brokenback Ranch. This ranch owned by the Mills family,, has been homesteaded since the 1800s. Terril Mill’s grandfather used to raise horses for the Army.  Today, Lynette Mills, Terril’s sister, raises quality quarter horses.  There is a good chance we will spot her mares and colts running in the rough, rugged hills leading up to camp.  The Brokenback Ranch also raises Angus and Angus-cross cattle.

By the time we ride into camp, we will have climbed about 2,500 feet! We start out below, but pass above the red Chugwater cliffs. On we ride,  climbing up through ancient ocean ocean beds, layered in striations of reds, ochers and grays. The draws are deep here, and lead up to limestone canyons, topped with ponderosa pine forests.  We will camp near a hunting cabin, on the Brokenback Ranch. There is a beautiful spring, bubbling out of the ground nearby. The cool water is delicious and refreshing.  The views across the Big Horn Basin are incredible.

Our food and camping gear will have been left ahead for us.  However, we still need to set up tents, care for the horses, etc.  Everyone is encouraged to help out.  We camp in dome style tents.  There is foam pads and sleeping bags for everyone.  The cabin. with bunk beds is also available, if you don’t mind sharing.

Day Four: We use pack horses for the first time today.  We continue our ride, up and up we go. The mountains are covered with pine forests, dotted with groves of Aspen,  and open, sagebrush covered hillsides, climbing ever up. 

We ride until we meet the Battle Park road.  We follow this road, to camp, at battle Park.  Battle Park is a horse friendly trail head. There is usually quite a few horse campers there, with their big horse trailers with living quarters.  We camp at Battle Park for the night.

Days Five and Six:    It takes a while to pack all of our gear for the next three days. It is a five mile ride to camp in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. 

We have several options today and tomorrow.  There is excellent fly fishing and mountain climbing in the area. There are several trail rides available from camp.  We are camped in the Paintrock drainage. The headwaters of Paintrock Creek begin at the foot of Cloud Peak. At 13,165 ft, it is the highest peak in the Big Horn Mountains. Riding is required to get to most fishing or climbing locations. Fishing locations are closer.  The streams tend to have brook trout. The lakes may have brook trout, rainbows and golden trout.   We will stay at camp for two nights.  If you wish to fish you must get a fishing license, which can be purchased in Ten Sleep.  Bring your own fishing gear, or rentals are available.

The mountains are very beautiful. The weather is cool, the pine trees are welcoming, and riding above timberline is phenomenal.  Giant granite peaks, with sheer cliffs, beautiful lakes, alpine tundra carpeted with wildflowers, are a balm to your soul.  We won’t want to leave.

Day Seven: Today, we ride out of the mountains.  It is a big, long, downhill ride.  It will also be one of the most scenic rides you have ever done.  We are riding down Paintrock Canyon.  Have your camera charged for this ride.  The huge, deep, limestone canyon winds down, out of the mountains, for several miles.  Pale tan and cream cliffs rise straight up, for 1500 ft,  on both sides of Paintrock creek,  which rushes along the bottom.  It is an impressive canyon.  Mother Earth humbles you here. 

The ride ends way down in the juniper and sandstone country, at the foot of the mountains.  The small town of Hyattville is visible in the distance, notable by all the huge, green cottonwood trees, clustered thickly along the creek, past all the green irrigated fields. It is about five miles away. There is a cafe/bar with cold drinks, which we will definitely want to take advantage of, on our way back to Ten Sleep (20 miles).

Day Eight; Time to pack up and head to the airport.  You should be ‘walking like a cowboy’, by now.  You put on a lot of horseback miles that most people only dream of.  Most riders leave with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, knowing they did a special ride. After the ’Renegade Experience”  other places are just pony rides.

Included are all meals at the house, with a complimentary glass of wine at supper.  Horses and tack are included.  Not included is lunch the day of arrival or breakfast on the departure day and any other alcohol you may wish to have.


*Please note that routes or itineraries may vary due to unforeseen events or circumstances.  This may include inclement weather, change in the ‘ranches’ plans, etc.




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