Heart Mountain Ranch is available for non-motorized travel and field trips. View All
Surrounded by sagebrush basin, Heart Mountain stands alone. Named by the Crow Indians, this mountain is one of the few identifiable features on the maps Lewis and Clark created.
With its unusual limestone cap, Heart Mountain is a puzzle. Geologists from around the world have studied it, yet its origin remains a subject of passionate debate. Somehow it became separated from larger masses of similar formations found sixty miles away in Yellowstone National Park. Moreover, older limestone lies atop younger strata, which is "upside down" in relation to how these strata are found elsewhere.
Heart Mountain Ranch supports one of the greatest concentrations of rare plants ever discovered on private property in Wyoming. Many native mammals also are often seen here, particularly elk, mule deer and antelope.
Heart Mountain Ranch, north of Cody, encompasses the north and east slopes of Heart Mountain and a portion of the surrounding plains.
Why the Conservancy Selected this Site
The Conservancy uses a rigorous science-based process called Conservation by Design to develop strategic plans to save Wyoming’s last great places. It helps the Conservancy focus its resources on the sites most in need to critical intervention. Under this system, Heart Mountain received the second-highest rating for overall biodiversity.
Although the Conservancy rarely buys land outright, this ranch was too important to pass up.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Innovation and collaboration bring scientists, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts together on Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve. As a site for advancing the field of rangeland management and ecology, the preserve hosts sustainable cattle grazing on its pastures, weed management projects and wildlife field research.
The rugged trail to Heart Mountain’s summit also attracts hikers. Horseback riders are welcome to enjoy the lower trails and take in the preserve’s undeveloped and wide-open vistas. The Heart Mountain Trail Interpretive Cabin offers information about the geology, cultural significance and ecology of Heart Mountain and the surrounding land.
What to See: Plants
Heart Mountain Ranch supports one of the greatest concentrations of rare plants ever discovered on private property in Wyoming. Of particular interest are several cushion plant communities found on cliffs near its summit. Shoshonea (cushion plant), Howards’ Forget me not, Snake River Cat’s Eye, Aromatic Pussytoes, Absaroka Goldenweed.
What to See: Animals
Shoshone Indians called this land “Home of the Birds” because of the large number of bird species living here. Golden eagles and sage thrashers are commonly sighted. Recently, peregrine falcons have been spotted and are believed to be nesting on summit cliffs.
For several years, Wyoming Department of Game & Fish biologists have studied and inventoried a prominent sage grouse lek found on the preserve. Sage grouse—large, flamboyant birds that depend on sagebrush—are at risk.
Many native mammals often are seen here, particularly elk, mule deer and antelope. Mountain lion and bobcat are common predators, as is the ubiquitous coyote. Black bears sometimes roam its slopes. Grizzly bears may even visit the area from time to time, given the brushy corridors and rough country connecting Heart Mountain to the nearby Absarokas.
What to Do: Heart Mountain Trail
The hike up Heart Mountain is approximately 7 miles round trip and is fairly strenuous on the upper end.
Be prepared for a full day outdoors and have plenty of food, water, etc. Medical assistance is not readily available, and cell phone service on the mountain is limited.
Please abide by posted ranch rules and please leave your dogs at home
What to Do: Heart Mountain Trail Interpretive Cabin
Located at the base of Heart Mountain, the Heart Mountain Trailhead Interpretive Cabin offers information about the geology, cultural significance and ecology of Heart Mountain and the surrounding land. Installed in cooperation with the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the trailhead cabin offers a scale model of the mountain, interpretive panels, and photography from yesteryear and today. The cabin is open every weekend through September from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Heart Mountain Ranch is available for non-motorized travel and field trips. Please contact Heart Mountain Ranch for more information.
Heart Mountain Ranch
1357 Road 22
Powell, WY 82435
Phone: (307) 754-8446
Brian and Carrie Peters, Ranch Management
Drive to Road (not Lane) 19 located on the Cody-Powell Highway 14A. This is approximately 13 miles from Cody and 11 miles from Powell.
You’ll see the two big cottonwoods and also the brown sign for the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. Head west toward Heart Mountain on Road 19. It will bend sharply to the right and a little later to the left as Road 19 all the sudden becomes Lane 13 ½.
Stay on Lane 13 ½ heading west towards Heart Mountain. Do not turn again. The pavement will turn to gravel at Road 22 and you will see a large white sign welcoming you to the ranch (this sign is approximately 5 miles from where you turned off the main highway between Powell and Cody)—keep heading west past the sign.
You will cross several cattle guards and then you will cross a bridge over a large canal. Immediately after crossing the bridge, you will see an informational kiosk and a gate. Please sign in here before proceeding to the trailhead.
After signing in, you will travel through the sagebrush flat for approximately 3 miles. You will cross a couple more cattle guards.
You will come to a fork in the road but do not turn off. Stay on the main road and you will come to the trailhead where there is a parking area and a building. This is where the trail starts.