Most people go their entire lives without ever setting eyes on real bighorn sheep. Back in the earliest days of the “wild west,” bighorn sheep roamed the plains of the western United States. While their numbers have dwindled since then, they are still thriving in this corner of Wyoming; as few animals capture the spirit and majesty of the state quite like this. Dubois, which is located in the northwestern portion of the massive state, is also home to one of the largest herds of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Better still, the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center can be be found there. If you have a hankering to learn more about these incredible animals, then, a visit to northwestern Wyoming is definitely in order.
About the Dubois Area
The Dubois region was first settled around the year 1866. From that point forward, many explorers passed through this part of Wyoming, which is known as the Upper Wind River Valley. The nickname for this valley is “Valley of the Warm Winds,” mostly because heavy snowfall doesn’t generally occur in the lower elevations. This is an important fact, since it often drives bighorn sheep down from higher elevations where they can be seen more easily. Many different forms of wildlife can be found in the Upper Wind River Valley, but Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep have to be the most famous of them all.
The Whiskey Mountain Herd
Like many other animals, bighorn sheep travel in herds. If you’d like to see these gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat, the Whiskey Mountain herd of bighorn sheep, near Dubois, is a great option. If you’re on a tight schedule, you’re probably not going to want to drive all over in search of these sometimes elusive animals. Luckily, there’s a much more practical alternative: a visit to the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center. Within the center itself, you can learn more about bighorn sheep; outside it, you can take tours and see the creatures up close.
Visit the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center
If you are intent on seeing bighorn sheep up close in their natural habitat, you’re going to want to visit the Dubois area between November and March. That’s the time of year when the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center gives its tours. Tours have to be booked at least a few days in advance; for best results - and flexibility - try to book even more in advance. Setting aside the time to do this is well worth it, since you’re probably not going to get another great chance to see bighorn sheep like this.
On average, tours to view the Whiskey Mountain herd of bighorn sheep take anywhere from three to five hours. Make sure to keep a decent window of time open on the day of your planned tour. Guides will drive you and your companions around in four-wheel drive vehicles, in search of these stunning creatures. If you get lucky, snow will have fallen recently in the higher elevations; if it has, you’re going to be able to see a larger number of bighorn sheep during your tour. Either way, it’s bound to be a delightful experience for all involved.
While viewing bighorn sheep in person is great, the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center is chock-full of hands-on exhibits and other features that make learning about these animals a whole lot of fun. Even if you are traveling with young kids, they’re sure to have a great time here. In the center, you can learn more about how bighorn sheep live their lives and how they survive on a day-to-day basis. You can also learn about the history of the herd itself.