Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring Sioux Nation Forts

History of Medicine Lodge

Homesteaded over 100 years ago by B.F. Wickwire, the Medicine Lodge Wildlife Habitat Management Area consists of some 12,100 acres. It was purchased from Harry and Sadie Taylor in 1972 by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department to insure adequate winter range for the extensive elk herd that summer in the Big Horn Mountains. The sale also guaranteed protection of valuable mule deer and trout habitat and provided recreational access to surrounding federal lands.

In 1973 the Wyoming Game & Fish Department and, what was then the Wyoming Recreation Commission (now absorbed into the Wyoming Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources), entered into a cooperative agreement whereby the Recreation Commission would maintain, develop, administer, and interpret that small portion of the habitat area known as Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site.

Travel Directions & Site Overview

Located on the western side of the Big Horn Mountains at the mouth of Medicine Lodge canyon, at an altitude of approximately 4800 feet. Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site can be reached by taking WY highway 31 twenty-two(22) miles east from Manderson, or, if you come by way of Ten Sleep, WY. turn north onto the lower Nowood Road just west of Ten Sleep and follow it for twenty-three(23) miles until it hits WY. 31, then turn east and follow it to Hyattville. Just before going down the hill into the town of Hyattville, turn north onto Cold Springs Road. Follow this asphalt county road for about 4.5 miles until you come to a large yellow and brown sign that says MEDICINE LODGE WILDLIFE HABITAT MGT. AREA AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE. Turn left onto a gravel road at that sign and follow the 1.5 miles right into the site.

Archaeology Makes Medicine Lodge Unique The Medicine Lodge site has long been known for its Indian petroglyphs and pictographs, but hot until 1969 did the full archaeological wealth of the site come to light. In that year, Dr. George Frison, then Wyoming State Archaeologist, began a series of digs that uncovered a human habitation site that has been continuously occupied for over 10,000 years. Medicine Lodge has thus become a key to the interpretation of the archaeology of the entire Big Horn Basin area.

The archaeological investigation involved digging through approximately 26 feet of soil and rocky sediments, discovering over 60 cultural levels spanning some 10,000 years of human occupation. This important aspect of the site enables the archaeologists to examine particular life-styles and to study how these styles changed over time. Some of the material items found during the dig included fire pits, food storage pits, manos and metates (grinding stones) and projectile points.

The information gleaned from the archaeological investigation provides interesting educational and interpretive insight into the life of this area's inhabitants throughout the years. Interpretive signs located at the base of the petroglyph cliff and exhibits in the log cabin visitor center give an overview of the information accumulated by the archaeologists. They also explain some of what you see around you at Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site.

Accommodations and Camping

The site includes approximately 25 camping spots with fire grills, picnic tables and vault toilets plus a visitor center and nature trail which is located on the grassy areas along the Medicine Lodge creek. All these sites are available for either tents, R.V.'s, or for picnicking. To have a campfire though you must have a grill. There is a large group area available on a reservation basics. There is also a handicaped/accessible concrete sidewalk, fishing path with turnouts for access to pools in the stream. This area was paid for with ADA funds and "Fish Wyoming" grant from the Wyoming Game and Fish Deparment.

In the town of Hyattville is a post office, a cafe/bar, and an Inn/grill/bar. Some food staples can be obtained at the cafe along with fishing licenses. There is no gas in Hyattville, the closest gas is it Ten Sleep, WY.

Annual & Current Events

The Hyattville Old-Timers Picnic is held at the site on the last weekend in July. This is held to honor the "old-timers", and their families, who were born, or lived in Hyattville. The Hyattville old Timers Assoc. Provide free coffee and roast beef to all who attend, while families and visitors bring their own salads and dessert. The 4-H club usually puts on a small program for fun and entertainment.

The Ten Sleep 4th of July rodeo is a nice local event held on the Forth of July.

Some Important Park Rules

Camping is permitted for a maximum of 14 consecutive days.
Any campsite left unattended more than 24 hours will be impounded by sheriff.
Quiet shall be maintained in all areas of the park between the hours of 9 p.m. And 6 a.m.
Fires are permitted only in fireplaces or grills as provided and must be completely extinguished before leaving.
All pets must be kept on a leash.
The discharge of firearms and fireworks is prohibited.
Motorized vehicles shall be operated only on roads, trails or areas designated for such use.
All trash must be deposited in containers designated for that purpose.
All other rules in the Wyoming State Park & Historic Sites rule book apply. Ask park staff to see a copy of the book.
Respect our history! Please don't touch or alter the petroglyphs.

Things To Do

Medicine Lodge--Wildlife Haven/Heaven Within a twelve mile radius of Medicine Lodge five distinct vegetation zones can be found, ranging from the desert basin to the high mountain meadows. These environments, in conjunction with the availability of water, has provided this area with a veritable Noah's Ark" full of animals. This, coupled with the easy access to the area by the public, makes Medicine Lodge one of the finest wildlife viewing areas in the state of Wyoming.

Mammals, such as the mule deer, Jack rabbit, cottontail rabbit, and marmot, can be seen in abundance. There is also an excellent chance to see beaver, mink, fox, coyote, weasels, badgers, prairie dogs, porcupine, White-tailed deer, elk, bobcat, mountain lion, and smaller mammals including mice, moles, muskrats, packrats, and bats.

There are over 100 species of birds that can be seen at one time or another. Reptiles are not as abundant, but there are several snake species including rattlesnakes and two types of lizards. Fishing is excellent with good populations of both Brown and Brook trout. As for insects...well, there are a lot of them too!...from butterflies to beetles...grasshoppers to ant lions. Medicine Lodge is even home to a few scorpions. Relaxing is the most common activity incurred by visitors at the site, but there is a plethora of recreational activities and opportunities available at or near Medicine Lodge. Camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, walking, bird-watching, wild-life viewing, rock-hunting, fossil hunting, mountain biking, 4-wheeling, photography, and museum hopping are some of the more popular attractions. Many people use Medicine Lodge as a "hub" and take day trips into the mountains and sdurrounding public lands. A fossil dinosaur "track" site with hundreds of dinosaur tracks has been discovered near Shell, Wyoming.

Medicine Lodge Web Site

Have you visited this historic location?

Help out other Fort Tours readers by sharing a rating, then describe your experience below.

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this historic site.

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments