WY-14-A | Medicine Wheel Passage

  • Distance: 78.3 Miles (126.01 km)
  • Rating: 2-C, Climbing and ascending to the top of the mountain can be quite technical depending on your rate of forward velocity. The top portion that has the most scenery is very gentle. Ratings Explained »
  • Travel: Either direction for best results
  • Start: Lovell, Wy
  • End: Dayton, Wy
  • Fuel: On either end, nothing along the way.
  • Along the Way: The Big Horn Medicine Wheel, an 80-foot wheel like structure located at near 10,000 feet at the top of the pass is amazing if you don’t mind two miles of dirt road to access the site.
  • Highlights: Climbing/Decending the west side of the pass offers amazing scenery, the climbing/descending on the east side offers spectacular cornering though infinite switchbacks.
  • Advisories: The western slope has little vegetation, so water runoff seems to damage the road on a regular basis. Be prepared. During the first week of August, during the Sturgis bike week, expect to see thousands of Harleys on their pilgrimage to or from chrome mecca.

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Leaving Lovell, Wyoming, the world looks like Wyoming does. Flat, barren and windy. But in the distance you will notice a massive mountain range that looks all but impenetrable. After a few miles of typical Wyoming straight roads, you’ll cross Big Horn Lake and start your ascent. Its unimpressive at first, but soon you’ll be rallying through tight switchbacks and climbing intensely steep grades. Be on the lookout for any four-wheel vehicle that will be struggling to climb, and will be going fairly slow.

As you near the top, be sure to look to your west and take in the enormous, empty expanse, on a clear day you’ll feel like you can see all the way to California. Crossing the top of the Big Horns, the road becomes a very gentle of long sweeping corners through lush green meadows. Tree’s are sparse as they struggle to grow at this elevation so you’ll enjoy vast views of the world below.

The road will fork, turn left to head to Dayton (the better route) or turn right to head into Greybull (to the west). Continuing east, the road will start its descent and cornering opportunities become much more plentiful.

The final drop into Dayton is spectacular, red asphalt carries you through a long series of technical switchbacks that will not only drop you do the valley floor, but carry you down into much warmer climates. If you were cold up top, you’ll be cold no more. If you were warm up top, be prepared for sweltering heat.

This mountain pass is the best way to cross Wyoming. It’s 80 mile helps break up the two enormous plains on either end between South Dakota’s Black Hills to the east and the Bear Tooth Range and Yellowstone National Park to the west.

Road Rating System

The first part of our rating describes how technical we feel that road is. Numbers one through five with five being the most technical and one being a more mellow road with few challenging corners. The second half of the rating is a letter grade. A rating of “A” would be a road that is in great condition and a grade-F would be a crumbly, slippery or degraded surface.

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