Star Gazing in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Going off-grid in the Bighorn Mountains for a weekend was literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. Even though we do our share of exploring and adventuring, we balance work, camper maintenance, raising a toddler, laundry, grocery shopping, and all the general life things, so going to the mountains where we had nowhere to go and nothing to attend to was such a relaxing and much-needed change of pace.

On our way into Wyoming, Will and I recounted our favorite campsites to date, but as we pulled into Tie Hack campground and started setting up camp, we agreed this site jumped easily to the top. The sites were large and generously spaced from the neighbors (a far cry from the sardine-like site we had just left behind in the Black Hills), surrounded by large trees and a backyard of forest.

Each site is set up with a level pad for a camper, an area with a picnic table and fire ring, and a smaller pad for a tent. The tent pad was the perfect place for the hammock, which made for an amazing vantage point overlooking the entire site to comfortably watch Bird collect sticks and rocks.

As this was our first trek up any significant elevation while towing, we filled up with water on arrival, prior to going to our site. On the site, we had no hookups, which was daunting leaving a heatwave, but due to the elevation, the temperatures were simply perfect. While we had our generator, we used it only briefly during our stay.

Even though there were ample opportunities for hiking all around us, we opted for a low-key weekend of relaxing, paddleboarding for both Will and me, and a drive around in the evening looking for wildlife.

The reservoir just beyond the campground was a great place to paddle, in theory. However, being a weekend, it was rather busy, and being in Wyoming, the wind was rather unpredictable. Regardless, it is always a treat to jump on the paddleboard and just be with nature.

Going for evening rides in the mountains is one of my favorite past-times and brings back so many memories of my childhood. There is something incredibly special about driving around with your family, with no destination in mind, as the sun slips in the sky, casting everything in a beautiful evening glow. The anticipation of seeing wildlife just adds to the experience.

Looking for wildlife with Will is a little intimidating since he is an avid hunter and has eagle eyes. However, and not to brag too much, I was the one who spotted both the elk and moose on our little adventure, and I am still pretty proud of it. The elk trotted off into the woods fairly quickly after we spotted her, but we were able to watch the moose for some time, and even got Bird out of her car seat so she could see it. We also found some snow along the road and took a little family walk to play in it for a few minutes.

The truly spectacular part of being in the middle of nowhere was the stars at night. We had only 1 night that was really clear, but hammocks make for perfect stargazing, and I took full advantage. Even though I grew up camping in these mountains with this same view of the universe, the expanse and the beauty are breathtaking every single time. Having slow, quiet evenings around the fire with a glass of wine and millions of stars above, now that is living.

As with all dry camping experiences, this weekend in the mountains was the vacation we needed, but it also had to come to end so we could all shower. We had a busy few weeks ahead, visiting my hometown then meeting up with family along our journey, so taking this breath of mountain air was welcome and very hard to leave. The mountains called, we answered, and we cannot wait to go back.

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