Experimenting with the GoPro at Bighorn Canyon

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, just a few minutes north east of Lovell, WY gets just a tiny fraction of the visitors who hit Yellowstone National Park, just over one hundred miles away. Of those few visitors, most are in boats on the lake at the bottom of the canyon fishing or waterskiing.

Photographer Jeff Handlin and I spent a day exploring the Bighorn Canyon, and feeling pretty alone in the scrubby desert along the top of the high canyon walls. I decided to travel light, taking just my GoPro Hero 2 camera. Its ultra-wide-angle-lens did a great job of capturing the vast, open landscape.

big horn canyon wyoming montana lovell desert landscape flower national recreation area
Wildflowers bloom in a desert wash near the road. The Bighorn National Recreation Area is an arid landscape, even by eastern Montana / Wyoming standards, feeling more like visiting Moab than the prairie grasslands that surround it.
big horn canyon wyoming montana lovell desert landscape national recreation area wild horses mustang
The GoPro’s ultra-wide-angle lens make these wild horses look much further away than they actually were. The Area boasts a large population of wild mustangs, some dating back to the first horses brought over from Europe by the Spanish. The more generations the horses remain undomesticated, the more they look like zebras, with stripes appearing on their legs and a ridge down their backs.
big horn canyon wyoming montana lovell desert landscape flower national recreation area
Bighorn Canyon snakes between the Pryor and Big Horn Mountain ranges. Wandering the State Line Trail, I got amazing views of both the deep canyon as well as the desert landscape surrounding it.
big horn canyon national recreation area juniper tree desert landscape
Like the high desert of the southwest, Bighorn Canyon is line with the gnarled trunks of juniper trees, dry grasses and prickly-pear cactus.
big horn canyon national recreation area desert lake dam gorge boat water ski
The only sound, besides the wind, is the grumble of boat engines as they make their way up and down the lake, towing skiers or moving between fishing spots. The sound travels back and forth, echoing off the walls of the gorge creating a dull drone long after the boat is out of sight.
desert flower big horn canyon national recreation area gorge cactus flower landscape
The sun came out to hit this prickly-pear cactus in bloom. It’s hard to believe the misconception that the desert is a dead wasteland once you’re in it, seeing, hearing and smelling the plants and animals all around you.

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