See Wild Horses in the Pryors

September 21, 2012 @ 10:00 am by scott

Billings is close to a lot of different mountains.  Most prominent ones are found in the Beartooth Mountain range.  Just outside of Red Lodge is the closest part of them to Billings.  They are large, majestic, and they dwarf their neighbors just to the east.  But just because they aren’t as big, the Pryor Mountains have a beauty that is all their own.  They are unique and very different from the Beartooths.  And they have been being used for thousands of years by the people who have passed this way before us.


These mountains encompass 145,000 square miles, and consist mostly of the Madison Group Limestone.  This means that whenever there is rain, the water and acidity in it etch away a little more at the rocks forming canyons and caves that are found throughout the mountains.  Unlike the Beartooths, which are mostly a temperate forest climate, the Pryors have a wide variety.  On the south side of the mountains it is nearly a desert, while the other side is forested.  With such a range of climates, there is no shortage of adventures to be had.


If you go, you will first want to explore.  That is the joy of being in the mountains.  Finding trails, seeing different sights, and discovering places where few, if any, people have been before.  In the Pryors you can explore the caves, traverse the canyons, or just watch the wildlife that passes you by.  There is no shortage of deer and other common creatures around, and if you are lucky you will see bighorn sheep or even black bears.  Certain areas are also home to the famous wild Pryor Mustangs.  These wild horses are abundant, and easily become the subject to some magnificent pictures.


During your explorations, whether they be on foot or on one of the many four wheeling roads, make sure to take some time to hunt for fossils.  The arid environment was perfect for preserving ancient ocean creatures.  If you know where to look, they are not hard to find.  If you stumble across arrowheads or other artifacts, legally you need to leave them alone.  Set up camp in one of the many open fields on the mountains and have a little picnic and enjoy the last of the fall weather before winter comes to the mountains.


In order to get to the mountains start out as though you are going to Red Lodge.  At Fort Rockvale take highway 310 south through the town of Bridger.  Just after you go through Bridger, watch for Pryor Mountain Road.  It will sneak up on you, so keep a lookout.  This is your first access to the mountains.  From there you will need a map (better than this one from Google) or a guide.  There are numerous roads through the mountains, but they are easy to get lost on if you do not know where you are going.  Make sure to take a four wheel drive vehicle, many of the roads can get pretty rough.  And pack your phone.  You can get signal in most places, so if there is an emergency you will be able to call for help.  Take your camera, take lots of pictures, and enjoy your trip.

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