Riding herd at Heart Mountain Ranch
Riders at Heart Mountain Ranch Riding herd at Heart Mountain Ranch © Will Van Overbeek

Places We Protect

Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve

Wyoming

Innovation and collaboration in the shadows of a Wyoming landmark.

The trail had been closed due to bear activity in the region. It re-opened on June 16 with some special precautions. At this time, we are requiring hikers to travel only in groups and it is mandatory that they carry bear spray.  Hikers must also remain on the trail at all times. Please no cross-country treks! These conditions are necessary for the protection of both people and wildlife. Thanks for your understanding.

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. The preserve is also home to managers Carrie and Brian Peters, who are raising their children close to nature.

Make a special gift - Honor a loved one with the purchase of a bench and commemorative plaque placed along the preserve trail. Contact us to find out how!

Location
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 Trailhead Interpretive Cabin offers information about the geology, cultural significance and ecology of Heart Mountain and the surrounding land.

What to Do: Heart Mountain Trail

While the risk of an encounter is low, Heart Mountain is in bear country. In order to be fully prepared, we recommend that visitors hiking the preserve carry and know how to use bear spray.
The hike up Heart Mountain is approximately 8 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 Trailhead 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 8 a.m. to 5p.m. Thursday through Sunday from May through September or by appointment.

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. Species found there include 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.

 

Heart Mountain Ranch is available for non-motorized travel and field trips. No dogs allowed.

Please contact Heart Mountain Ranch for more information.

Contact
Heart Mountain Ranch
1357 Road 22
Powell, WY  82435
Phone: (307) 754-8446
Email: cpeters@tnc.org
Brian and Carrie Peters, Ranch Management