Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hiking the Bighorn Mountains: Firebox Park via Bud Love Wildlife Habitat Management

Just six miles northwest of our month-long home base in Buffalo, WY lies the Bud Love Wildlife Habitat Management Area. Created in 1970 to provide crucial winter habitat for big game species, it also has an excellent trail for summer hiking or horseback riding.

We hiked about three miles up a canyon alongside pretty North Sayles Creek, among striking sandstone formations of many colors, to large meadows overshadowed by massive rock formations with views further into the Bighorns. Though we turned around in the meadows, one could continue hiking well into Bighorn National Forest from here.

Sandstone ridges jut dramatically out of the meadow.

With all the rain this spring and early summer the grasses are a vibrant green and very tall...
we worried about snakes but did not encounter any.
Our trail goes right up the canyon in front of Hans.

More enormous, jagged sandstone slabs.

The trail climbed the sides of the canyon and took us up to a wonderful viewpoint.
A huge red sandstone ridge capped the opposite canyon wall.

We could also see down into the valley where we started the hike.

The trail continued on up the narrow canyon.

We crossed North Sayles Creek several times.

At one point we popped out of the trees to see giant layers of sandstone ridges overhead.

At the top of the canyon we emerged onto a meadow.

Looking back more sandstone ridges guarded the canyon opening and a view to the plains beyond.

As we rose across the meadow we could see more massive sandstone formations poking out of the hillside ahead.

Looking back into our canyon...

And looking ahead at the cows dwarfed by the exposed sandstone.

This enormous ridge of rock just grabbed our attention!

Cows hang out by giant sandstone boulders.

We decided to turn around after three miles, once we reached the high point of the meadow.

Both coming and going we had to navigate through and around many cows!

Back near the trailhead the sandstone was well lit by the end of our hike.

Hans wades through the meadow.

A view back to the canyon we hiked as we drove out.

This guy hitched a ride on our windshield!

There is not much written about this particular trail, but it is well used by the locals. If you do a search on: firebox park bud love, you will find an excerpt from the book Hiking Wyoming's Cloud Peak Wilderness. The book is fairly old but the directions offered are accurate.


  1. I can't believe how green everything looks - in August! I miss those outcrops of red rocks, a staple in that part of the country. I'll be traveling back to Rapid City to visit family on Aug 29th and I'm looking forward to seeing familiar country.

    1. We're now in the time of rain only in the mountains. Every time it looks like it's going to rain it peters out by the time it reaches the East edge of Buffalo! Temps in the 890's most days...so glad we have the mountains so close to escape to!

  2. Another beautiful hike...the green meadow and jagged rocks sure make for nice terrain to explore. I love creek crossings!

    1. Isn't the sound of the water while you're hiking just delightful?!

  3. Love the sandstone ridges, they give character to all the green! Always nice to have water next to the trail :-) The views from the top are so pretty, definitely a sweet hike. Grasshoppers give me the creeps :-(

    1. You would be kind of freaked out around here...walking through grass there are hundreds of grasshoppers springing away from you!

  4. I thought that grasshopper was ready to hop on you! Another gorgeous hike!

  5. What a beautiful hike -- those sandstone ridges rising out of the undulating green grasses are so striking. Glad to see Hans wearing colors that contrast nicely with the landscape! :-) I would be concerned about snakes, too -- we carry our hiking poles on trails where we think we're likely to encounter slithery critters.