National Register of Historic Places


Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark

Big Horn County

Date Added to Register

Wednesday, April 16, 1969

Smithsonian Number

48BH302

Read all about it

The Medicine Wheel is located in the Bighorn National Forest on the western peak of Medicine Mountain at an elevation of 9642 feet in the Bighorn Range east of Lovell, Wyoming. The 75-foot diameter Medicine Wheel is a roughly circular alignment of rocks and associated cairns enclosing 28 radial rows of rock extending out from a central cairn. This feature is part of a much larger complex of interrelated archeological sites and traditional use areas that express 7000 years of Native American adaptation to and use of the alpine landscape that surrounds Medicine Mountain. Numerous contemporary American Indian traditional use areas and features, including ceremonial staging areas, medicinal and ceremonial plant gathering areas, sweat lodge sites, altars, offering locales and fasting (vision quest) enclosures, can be found nearby. Ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archeological evidence demonstrates that the Medicine Wheel and the surrounding landscape constitute one of the most important and well preserved ancient Native American sacred site complexes in North America. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is considered the type site for medicine wheels in North America. Between 70 and 150 wheels have been identified in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources