An Afternoon at Porcupine Falls
Escaping to the Bighorn Mountains
Billings is Montana’s Trailhead. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick around in Montana. We’re so close to Wyoming that you can spend a good portion of your time across the border.
Within two hours of Billings, we have a whole bunch of mountain ranges ready to be explored. While we often zip down to the Beartooths, because they’re big, impressive, and have the most beautiful highway in America meandering up and over them, if you want to avoid the crowds that can tend to accumulate simply opt for a different area.
A different area like the Bighorn Mountains. South East of Billings the Bighorn River flows north out of Wyoming. It is dammed near Fort Smith creating the Bighorn Reservoir; 71 miles of amazingly scenic cliffs, awesome fishing, and a boaters paradise. Now just hop over to the other side of the reservoir, and you’re into the Bighorn Mountains.
Exploring the Bighorn Mountains
The Bighorns, which stretch over 200 miles from Northern Wyoming and into Southern Montana are home to a ton of great peaks, lush valleys, and high alpine lakes. Some of the peaks in this less-popular-than-the-beartooths mountain range are actually taller than the highest point in all of Montana.
From alpine peaks, to dusty hills that drop into the Bighorn Canyon, these mountains hold a lot.
One of the easiest ways to get a feel for them is to take a short drive from Billings and a quick hike down to Porcupine Falls.
A Short Hike to Porcupine Falls
It’s not even a half mile from the parking lot to a nice little beach area by the falls. But don’t let the short distance deceive you. You drop about 400 feet in that .4 mile stretch. To keep people from slippity sliding their way down to the falls, the trail maintenance crew has put in close to 100 steps along the way. Despite the stairs, it’s still pretty steep; go slow to keep your footing.
The reward is a spectacular waterfall that drops into the canyon. It’s fairly open, so even when the trail gets crowded with people (let’s face it, even though the mountain range isn’t as popular, this one is an easy hike and people will come) you’re not packed in there shoulder to shoulder. These words don’t do it justice, so just look at the pictures and stuff.
Enjoy a warm afternoon as you relax near the creek that eventually meanders its way down into Devil’s Canyon and drops into the Bighorn Reservoir. Best of all, it’s so close to Billings you don’t have to get up early and plan for a full day excursion into the mountains.
History, Hikes, and Hot Spots in the Bighorns
For thousands of years people groups have lived in the area we now call home. The evidence abounds with nearby historical sites like Pompey’s Pillar along the Yellowstone, the Pictograph Caves just east of Billings, and the Medicine Wheel high up in the Bighorn Mountains.