Bighorn Medicine Wheel

Prehistoric Site

DATES OPEN: Mid-June to September, weather permitting—closed periodically for Native American ceremonies.

HOURS: 8 AM to 5 PM

FACILITIES: Pit toilets

HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes, visitors with disabilities may use a motorized vehicle to access the site. All other visitors must walk 1.5 miles on a gravel road from the parking area to the site.

LOCATION: Bighorn National Forest—32.6 miles east of Lovell. From Hwy 14A, take Forest Service Road 12 to the parking area (approximately 3 miles).

Bighorn Medicine Wheel

Situated atop Medicine Mountain at an elevation of 9,642 feet, Bighorn Medicine Wheel attracts thousands of visitors each year, and it is easy to see why.  The wheel itself measures nearly 80 feet in diameter and consists of 28 alignments of limestone boulders radiating from a central cairn associated with 6 smaller stone enclosures found around the wheel’s perimeter.  While the exact purpose of the wheel, its age, and the identity of its makers are unknown, researchers believe the wheel was constructed over a period of centuries from about 500 to 1,500 years ago. The land surrounding the wheel has been used by prehistoric Native American groups for at least 7,000 years.  In fact, the wheel appears to be part of a much larger network of prehistoric trails, sites, and important landmarks encompassing over 23,000 acres.  On the short hike up to the Medicine Wheel, visitors can look out over the beautiful Bighorn Basin and spot many of these trails and landmarks and experience the awe-inspiring power of Medicine Mountain.  Once at the wheel, an interpreter is available to provide background information and answer questions. 




Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions,
   Andrew Gulliford (University Press of Colorado, 2000).

Protect Our Heritage!
Enjoy your time at the Medicine Wheel and feel free to take photographs. Do not collect artifacts from the area or disturb cairns or rock structures. Removing artifacts is not only against the law, but takes away from the experience of other visitors to the area. Report vandalism to Forest Service officials or call the numbers provided below. Please respect the sacred nature of the site and do not disturb any offerings. Additionally, visitors are asked to walk around the wheel in a clockwise direction to comply with Native American tradition and to tread lightly on fragile vegetation nearby.

To report vandalism, call:

Archaeological Resources Protection Act Hotline

Bighorn National Forest Office

Medicine Wheel/Paintrock District Office