My Public Lands Roadtrip: The Hole-in-the-Wall and Middle Fork of the Powder River Recreation Areas
The Hole-in-the-Wall is a spectacularly scenic part of the Old West. A red sandstone escarpment dominates the area which is rich in legend of outlaw activity in the late 1800s. It was a favorite hiding place for the infamous Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Gang. The "hole" is a gap in the Red Wall that, legend has it, was used secretly by outlaws to move horses and cattle from the area. This remote area is located about 40 miles southwest of Kaycee, Wyo.
The Middle Fork Powder River is located about 20 miles southwest of Kaycee, Wyoming. The Middle Fork Powder River Management Area contains such notable sites as Outlaw Cave, rumored to have been used as a hideout by various folks attempting to avoid the law, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The region contains diverse topography and vegetation, ranging in elevation from 5,000 to over 8,000 feet with numerous steep incised canyons, a red sandstone escarpment known as the Red Wall, and open grassland parks interspersed with ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and limber pine forests. The wildlife found here are equally diverse: elk, mule deer, antelope, mountain lions, eagles, among other small mammals and rodents.
The Middle Fork of the Powder River lies at the bottom of a fairly steep canyon. But, if you can make your way down, the fishing at the bottom is excellent! This is a "blue ribbon" trout stream containing brown and rainbow trout. Only artificial flies and lures are allowed; no natural bait. Other fishable streams in the area include Blue Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Eagle Creek.
Cumulatively, the Hole-in-the-Wall and Middle Fork region contain approximately 80,000 acres of public land, including lands managed by the State of Wyoming and Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Photo by Claire Nicholson Taylor, Chicago Botanic Garden Intern