The Bighorn Mountain Foothills may just be the best-kept secret in the American West. Rich in wildlife and scenery, the abundance has lured people from the time the Plains Indians lived here. Since then, its bounty has influenced all who visit and convinced many to stay. Crazy Horse, of the Oglala Lakota Sioux, spent a large part of his life in this lush, coveted environment that so many have sought to experience. While the Plains Indians inhabited the region, so too did all their horses.Not only is the land along the Bighorn Mountains a special place for people to live, work and play; it’s also some of the finest horse country in the world. This country along the Bighorns produced some truly amazing ranches that have been a part of the unique culture and have also protected the landscapes and wildlife habitat from widespread development found so frequently in other areas of the Intermountain West. Together, people and horses have established a longstanding relationship that molded into a world-class destination.
When outdoor recreation consisted of hunting and fishing, horseback riding and polo, rodeo and hiking, the dude ranches sprinkled along the foothills were the place to take part in these activities. In fact, this is where dude ranches began, with the first being Eatons’ Ranch. Others followed, and over the years, some disappeared, but many still remain today and are just as vibrant in a dude ranch renaissance. A dinner bell would ring, alerting everyone it was time to gather for a meal, either before breakfast and before the day’s adventures, or after the fulfillment was done.
Today, we may not answer to dinner bells anymore, but the call of the Bighorn Mountain foothills still lures the hearts and souls, near and far to experience this great place. We experience far more types and forms of recreation living and playing here, but the “cowboy-cosmopolitan” culture still underlies the the spirit here in this great gift from God- the Bighorn Mountain foothills.