top of page

Medicine Wheel

A National Historic Landmark used by many different tribes and is one of the largest stone medicine wheels in North America.

None noted. Visitors are expected to walk on the road from the lower parking lot and Interpreter’s cabin to the Medicine Wheel, which is roughly 1.5 miles each way (3 miles total). Physically-challenged individuals may drive or be driven to the small parking area next to the Medicine Wheel. Please contact the Medicine Wheel Ranger District to make a request for this. Restroom facilities are located in the parking lot. Please bring your own water bottle and snacks.

Pilgrimage Focus

Suggested Spiritual Practices

Suggested Spiritual Practice: Around the medicine wheel, there are 5 cairns that touch the wheel; there is a 6th cairn that does not touch the medicine wheel. As you enter the path, walking mindfully, walking consciously, walking with intention, allow yourself to be attuned to your senses. What do you smell? What do you see? What do you feel (wind, rain, snow, warmth)? What do you taste? What do you hear? As you walk mindfully along the path, let go of these outer sensations (or not) and allow yourself to go within, breathing in, breathing out. At each cairn, pause and offer up your intention or your burden, your joy and gratitude. Consider writing down your experiences, reflections and thoughts before the day is done.

History of the Site

The NHL is managed by the Bighorn National Forest under a signed Historic Preservation Plan. Formal Signatory consulting parties include the Medicine Wheel Alliance (Tribal), Medicine Wheel Coalition (Tribal), Big Horn County commissioners, Bighorn National Forest, Federal Aviation Administration, Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, and the Secretary of Interior’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Spiritual Significance

This is an active Native American sacred site, so please be respectful at all times. “The wheel was constructed by Plains Indians between 300-800 years ago, and has been used and maintained by various groups since then. The central cairn is the oldest part, with excavations showing it extends below the wheel and has been buried by wind-blown dust. It may have supported a central pole. The star alignments are most accurate for around 1200 AD, since slight changes in the Earth's orbit have caused perturbations since. The solstice alignments remain accurate today.
“The Bighorn wheel is part of a much larger complex of interrelated archeological sites that represent 7000 years of Native American adaptation to and use of the alpine landscape that surrounds Medicine Mountain. Numerous contemporary American Indian traditional use ceremonial staging areas, medicinal and ceremonial plant gathering areas, sweat lodge sites, altars offering locales and fasting (vision quest) enclosures, can be found nearby. Ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archeological evidence demonstrates that the Medicine Wheel and the surrounding landscape constitute one of the most important and well preserved ancient Native American sacred site complexes in North America. Between 70 and 150 wheels have been identified in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan” (

Please also see this site:

Nearby Church

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Powell, WY
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Sheridan, WY



Camping abounds in the Big Horn National Forest. On the Lovell side, 5 Springs Campground, picnic ground (BLM); Porcupine Campground (U.S. Forest Service); Bald Mountain Campground (U.S. Forest Service). For more information, contact: Town of Lovell 307-548-6551, National Park Service 307-548-6541, or Lovell Chamber of Commerce, 307-548-7552
Other Lodging: Travelodge by Wyndham, Lovell; Cattlemen Inn, Lovell, Western Motel, Lovell; Travelodge by Wyndham, Powell, Super8 by Wyndham, Powell; Wyoming High Country Lodge ( or 307-529-0914 (must plan ahead).



Please note U.S.-14 Alt. is closed at the 5 Springs Campground to Burgess Junction during the winter months, as is Medicine Wheel (late October – Memorial Day Weekend). This is all dependent on snow conditions. So, depending on snow removal, U.S.-14 Alt. tries to open by Memorial Day Weekend. Contact WYDOT for updated information.

From Lovell, WY, take U.S.-14 Alt. for 21.9 miles. You will see signs for the 5 Springs Campground. Continue on U.S.-14 Alt. to climb the mountain. Once you reach the top, look for FR 12. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 12. Travel approx. 1.2 miles to the parking lot for Medicine Wheel. Once you park, there is a U.S. Forest Service cabin that is operated by USFS personnel. There is a 1.5 mile walk on a dirt road to reach the Medicine Wheel.

From Sheridan, WY: 1 hr 29 min (69.5 miles) – via US-14 W and US-14 ALT W. Get on I-90 W from WY-336 W – 2 min (0.6 mi). Follow I-90 W, US-14 W and US-14 ALT W to Forest Service Rd 12 – 1 hr 21 min (67.1 mi). Follow Forest Service Rd 12 to your destination – 7 min (1.7 mi)

Contact Info

Medicine Wheel Ranger District, 95 Highway 16/20, Greybull, WY 82426, 307-765-4435 USDA Forest Service, Bighorn National Forest, 2013 Eastside 2nd Street, Sheridan, WY 82801, 307-674-2600

bottom of page