RVing Wyoming – Lakes, Mountains and Waterfalls

May 2018 – Wyoming is best known for the eye-popping beauty of its National Parks on the western side of the state. Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton blew us away with easy to see herds of big animals, and seeing Jenny Lake glittering in the middle of the towering snow-capped Tetons is an image we will always cherish.

But when we took our RV across the northern part of Wyoming recently, we found some wonderful lakes, mountains and waterfalls that are less well known just a bit off the beaten path.

Cliffs on the shore of Keyhole State Park on RV camping trip to Wyoming-min

Keyhole Reservoir, Wyoming

Keyhole Reservoir is a horseshoe shaped body of water that is lined with rocky cliffs, and we had a ball strolling on the hiking trails along the shore and taking pics as we walked.

Rock cliffs at Keyhole State Park Wyoming RV trip-min

The steep rock cliffs on the water’s edge were an unexpected surprise.

Even though it was early Spring, there were lots of boats out on the water. There were pleasure boats zipping around and there were fishermen slowly trolling and reeling in the catch of the day.

Boating at Keyhole State Park Wyoming RV camping trip-min

Lots of boaters were out on the lake.

We were within earshot of the fishermen drifting past in their boats, and we called out to the guys in one boat. We had seen fish jumping clear out of the water in a small cove nearby, and sure enough, these fishermen had a big fish to show off for us before they threw it back in the water.

Fishing at Keyhole State Park on Wyoming RV trip-min

Buddy looks down at the fishermen below.

Fishing at Keyhole Reservoir Wyoming-min

Nice catch!

Around the lake signs of Spring appeared in patches here and there on the ground in beautiful sprays of purple flowers.

Wildflowers in rural Wyoming RV trip-min

Spring is here!

But having flowers on the ground didn’t guarantee sun in the sky, and the sky was overcast for most of the day! Finally, in the late afternoon, the sun made an appearance just above the horizon and cast a yellow glow across the cliffs.

Steep rock cliffs Keyhole State Park Wyoming RV trip-min

The landscape took on a glorious golden glow in the late afternoon.

Golden hour Keyhole State Park rock cliffs RV camping trip in Wyoming-min

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Keyhole State Park Wyoming RV trip shee rock cliffs-min

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The next morning we awoke to a wonderfully mystical layer of fog.

Keyhole State Park RV trip - stone cliffs with fog-min

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Foggy morning Keyhole State Park RV trip-min

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About 120 miles west of Keyhole State Park we found Lake De Smet. The water was mirror-calm and the eerie light of an impending rain storm made for some beautiful reflections.

Cloudy sky reflections De Smet Lake Wyoming RV trip-min

A wonderful moodiness sets in at Lake De Smet, Wyoming.

De Smet Lake State Park RV camping in Wyoming-min

No rock cliffs here, but lots of wonderful reflections.

There were a few fishing boats on the lake and quite a few birds were out fishing too.

De Smet Lake Wyoming RV camping trip-min

A cormorant takes off.

And the fishing went on until dark!

Lake De Smet fishing at sunset-min

A fisherman keeps fishing even as the sun sets around him!

Around the lake and in nearby gardens, we found some lovely flowers blooming.

Bleeding heart flowers in Spring in Wyoming-min

Bleeding hearts.

Lupine with rain water droplets on each petal-min

Lupine glisten with droplets of rain.

Silvery spring flowers in Wyoming-min

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Spring blossoms in Wyoming-min

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We had taken I-90 to get between Keyhole State Park and Lake De Smet, but on the next leg of our journey we traveled on the fabulous Big Horn Scenic Byway that crosses the Big Horn mountains between Sheridan and Ten Sleep on US-14.

Scenic drive on RV trip in rural Wyoming-min

We headed out on the Big Horn Scenic Byway.

What a great drive! We had been a little concerned about tackling all the hairpin turns and steep climbs at the beginning of the Big Horn Scenic Byway, but they are big sweeping gentle turns that are easy with a big rig, and the gradients are not difficult if you have a strong tow vehicle or motorhome engine.

Wyoming Big Horn Mountains scenic drive Route 14 RV trip-min

Parts of the Big Horn Scenic Byway passed between towering rock walls.

We loved the rolling hills and views as we climbed, but it was the waterfalls that really got our attention. We noticed one as we rounded a bend and quickly pulled over to hike down a berm to get a few pics.

Waterfall in Big Horn Mountains RV trip-min

When we spotted a waterfall we quickly pulled over.

This first waterfall was like a warmup for the magnificent waterfalls we found at around the midpoint of the Big Horn Scenic Byway at Shell Falls. These falls have been beautifully developed to allow visitors to view the falls and surrounding canyon from many viewpoints.

Shell Falls Big Horn Mountains RV trip Wyoming-min

Shell Falls, Big Horn Scenic Byway, Wyoming

Shell Falls Big Horn Mountains RV trip Wyoming-min

There are several levels of walkways at beautiful Shell Falls

The sound of the falls was a thunderous and never ending roar.

Waterfall at Shell Falls Big Horn Mountains Wyoming RV trip-min

What a rush!

Shell Falls waterfall RV trip in Wyoming BIg Horn Mountains-min

Hear me roar!

I imagine that later in the summer season the falls are a little more tame, but with the snow melt in the mountains filling the streams leading here, the volume of water was enormous.

Shell Falls waterfall Big Horn Mountains RV trip in Wyoming-min

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Shell Falls Canyon Wyoming RV camping trip-min

Looking deep down into the canyon.

We had driven the southern scenic drive across the Big Horn mountains along US-16 last year after spending time in the charming town of Buffalo, and it was lovely, but this northern route via US-14 has quite a few jaw-dropping moments that make it particularly stunning.

After we left Shell Falls, the mountains closed in around us in sheer rock cliffs and then slowly subsided as we descended into the town of Ten Sleep.

Big Horn Mountains scenic drive Route 14 Wyoming RV trip-min

Views on the Big Horn Scenic Byway in Wyoming.

If you are traveling through northern Wyoming with your RV, a stop at Lake De Smet or Keyhole Reservoir makes for a delightful waterfront excursion, and the Big Horn Scenic Byway is an exhilarating drive that is very doable with an RV. Just keep your eyes on the road because the views will knock your socks off!

RV camping trip to Wyoming Big Horn Mountains-min

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16 thoughts on “RVing Wyoming – Lakes, Mountains and Waterfalls

  1. Beautiful part of Wyoming! Love going places that aren’t that well known – 0ne of the huge benefits of RVLife!

  2. we stayed at Lake Desmet (named after the priest) last September on our way to the sugar beet harvest in MN. The water was clear, clean, perfect temperature for swimming which we did a lot of since we rarely find swimmable waters! We also kayaked into 2 little bays and up the creek. Then We went all the way accross and watched the cows on the other side. Loved our trip there and plan to return this summer on our way to Idaho from the east coast. I really enjoy your blog, pictures, and fun adventures you post.

    • How neat that you discovered the lake too, Sherry. It wasn’t warm enough to swim when we were there, but we could imagine it being a fantastic spot for summertime fun and having kayaks must have been very cool. Thank you for following our blog and have fun on your travels this summer. Going from the east coast to Idaho will be a wonderful trip!

  3. We enjoyed the ride. More fantastic photography and a story so well written that it places the readers on location. You did it again! Buddy is almost big enough for a backpack now!
    (I knew cut-and-paste would never work…)
    Jeff

    • We are so happy to have you along for the ride, Jeff. Thank you for appreciating the pics and story! Buddy seems to be nearing his final size and will definitely be able to help us out by carrying a backpack on the hiking trails (how cute!)!

    • Thank you, David & Sharon!! Mark took that lovely pic of the bleeding hearts. Such a graceful flower! Enjoy your travels out west. I’m glad we’ve inspired you with ideas of places to go that aren’t necessarily featured in the big glossy brochures!!

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