Sculpted Masterpiece

Would you like to camp and ride where humans have lived and evolved over the last 10,000 years? How about standing where previous people have stood and painstakingly scratched messages into rock? Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site ( is unique. Riding opportunities here will take you through different vegetation zones, including lush canyons and open ridges with incredible vistas. You’ll also see glimpses of what life was like for those who’ve walked thousands of years before us.

Medicine Lodge History
Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site is located near the western edge of the Bighorn Mountains, six miles northeast of Hyattville, Wyoming.

This area was first homesteaded more than 100 years ago. Local ranchers were well aware of the abundance of pictographs and petroglyphs. However, it wasn’t until 1969 that the full archaeological wealth of the area came to light.

A series of digs has uncovered a human habitation site at Medicine Lodge that has been continuously occupied for over 10,000 years. Archaeological investigation involved digging through 26 feet of soil, discovering more than 60 cultural levels spanning thousands of years of human occupation.

Take time to study the pictographs and petroglyphs on the rock wall across from the corrals. Pictographs were made with natural dyes. Juice from berries was mixed with animal blood or iron oxides from the soil and brushed on by fingers. Petroglyphs were scratched into the stone.

Interpretive signs at the base of the petroglyph cliff and exhibits in the log-cabin Visitor Center provide insights into the lives of people who have gone before us. It’s both educational and humbling.

Today, the park consists of camping areas surrounded by manicured lawns, a wall of petroglyphs on one side, and a meandering stream on the other. Nearby are large corrals for public use.

Enjoy this bonus photo album from our trip! (For more on the region, see “Sculpted Masterpiece,” Postcard From … Wyoming, The Trail Rider, January/February ’10.)

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