Thursday, September 17, 2015

Medicine Lodge Creek

In browsing around the internet and RV Park Reviews, I noted an entry for Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site  with some interest. I didn't think much more about it until we visited with a gentleman named Bill ("Just Bill") from Powell Wyoming who was staying across from us at Buffalo Bill State Park west of Cody. Bill was a great conversationalist and was telling us about all of his favorite camping places and he said that Medicine Lodge near Hyattville is his favorite.

Decisions, decisions. We had a choice between going north and hitting I-90 to go back west or going south towards I-80. The new territory south won out so on Monday we zig-zagged south east of Cody through cattle country and very small towns to find the park.

Google maps correctly locates the park, if only we had cell coverage in the area. Our Good Sam GPS led us to the red X on the map.

At which point we dropped the jeep in order to back up. I took the jeep to scout out where the park actually was. Note: there are somewhat misleading signs to the park and there is no evidence of a campground until you get to it.

A few pictures of the neighborhood.

I didn't get a picture of the three horses in the road that I had to gently coax out of the way with the jeep.

The park likes in and past the clump of trees you see at the base of the cliff in the distance.

It's a choose-your-own campsite kind of place. Twenty-five (they claim) sites in a loop then spread along the creek. Most of the sites are not clearly defined except by a table and fire pit. You can just park in the grass anywhere.

We were lucky to fund a site with a level gravel pad, a terrific cliff view,  . . .

. . .  and its own swimming hole. It was quite warm once we finally got set up and we put the creek to good use.

After parking, we registered up front where we met a couple from Cody also filling out their form. They originally wanted our site but we nabbed it first. Meredith (we later learned her name) wondered how we had found out about the park so Tom told her the story of Bill from Powell. I think that the Wyoming people want to keep some of their parks secret.

A few more views of "our" cliff and creek.



Huxley and I found a great trail up the hill on Monday evening. We won't discuss the fact that I was in sandals and Huxley helped me fall while going down the hill. Ouch. The next morning I talked Tom into coming with me for a hike up the trail, with hiking boots and our trekking poles.

Wind Caves

Elk paths leading down to the creek.

A cotton tail that we startled.

Tracks of various kinds. The small tracks were about the size of a nickel.

In the park there was no Verizon coverage for either data or phone. So after the walk we headed into the town of Hyattville to mail some items and check messages.

The Post Office is open only from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. No store. There is a restaurant and bar and a few houses.  Just past town, the road turns to gravel and crosses over Medicine Lodge Creek. We decided to drive up the road a little farther and explore.


 The Bighorn Mountains in the distance.

On our way home: horses with friends. Note the birds on their backs.

Back at the park: archaeology time.

The main cliff which has been discovered and uncovered is unusual in that contains both petroglyphs and pictographs.

The jeep in the photo for scale.


For the most part the pictographs (painted images) are higher in the cliff than the petroglyphs (chiseled images).  

Some more recent images including quite a few from Speed Martin around a century ago.

 A bird.

This appears to be an elk pierced by multiple arrows. 

 Perhaps a man with a buffalo headdress.

Many of the designs are circular. Compare to the squares and lines of the Rio Grande petroglyphs. 

A rabbit perhaps. 

 And one of the oldest.

Views up the face of the cliff.

The signs appear to be a few years old but still put things in perspective especially for school field trips. The signs read in order:

9 Years Ago: Most of today's 4th graders were born at this time
36 years Ago: Man walked on the moon
65 Years Ago: World War II begins
115 Years Ago: Wyoming became a state
230 Years Ago: Revolutionary ware Ended, American Independence Day
400 Years Ago: Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
800 Years Ago: Inca Culture flourishes in Peru
1,500 years ago: Old Mayan Culture flourishes in Mexico
1,900 Years Ago: Roman Empire at its peak
2,000 Years Ago: Jesus of Nazareth is born
2,800 Years Ago: First Olympic Games held in Greece
2,900 Years Ago: Olmec Culture flourishes in Mexico
4,500 Years Ago: Egyptians build the Great Pyramids
5,500 Years Ago: First Indications of written language

10,000 Years Ago: Medicine Lodge Site - Dr. George Frison uncovers artifacts indicating humans inhabited this site around 10,000 years ago.

12,000 Years Ago: Colby Site - Dr. George Frison uncovers Clovis projectile points at a Mammoth kill site east of Worland dating back almost 12,000 years

A nature trail leads farther up the creek. 

More beautiful, colorful cliffs and rocks.

Restored hunting cabins contain exhibits of natural history and of elk management. Below is just a sample.

 More nature trail and creek:

Back at camp we loaded up the dogs for another short jeep ride.

A thunder storm caused us to scurry home.

I hope that we can spend more time in the Medicine Lodge area in the future. It is truly a hidden gem.