Afterbay Contact Station, Fort Smith, MT: call 406-666-2351.
Cal S. Taggart Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center, Lovell, WY: call 307-548-5406
The Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range is home to Montana's only herd of wild horses. The range was established in 1968 by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall and encompasses 39,650 acres straddling the Montana-Wyoming border. A quarter of the range lies within the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The range is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The nonprofit Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center in Lovell, Wyoming, assists with educational outreach, advocates for preservation of the genetically distinct herd, and operates a museum and visitor center in Lovell.
The range's establishment followed years of controversy over the proper management of the nation's free-roaming herds of feral horses, thought to be descendants of the Spanish Barb breed imported to North America via the early-1600s expedition of Spaniard Juan de Oñate. In 1900, as many as five million feral horses roamed the American West, but their numbers declined rapidly due to government policies designed to remove the horses from competition with grazing livestock. Historically, feral horses were frequently slaughtered. As of 2012, the range has an established carrying capacity of 90-120 horses, and a population of 170 horses. Fertility control and private adoption are employed to manage herd size.
In Montana, the range is 115 miles south (by car) of Billings, between the eastern slopes of the Pryor Mountains and the western edge of the southern reaches of Bighorn Canyon. Access to the range is via Hwy. 37 paralleling Bighorn Canyon. Alternately, from Laurel, Montana, drive south on U.S. Route 310 and take the gravel Forest Service Road to Dryhead Overlook. Another good horse-viewing site is the Forest Service's Penn's Cabin, accessible with four-wheel-drive vehicles. From Penn's Cabin, the dirt Burnt Timber Ridge Road and Sykes Ridge Road access Bighorn Basin and circumnavigate the range. Parts of the range can also be accessed through the adjacent Crow Indian Reservation with a tribal trespass permit.
Hiking and camping are permitted on the range, though it contains no marked or maintained trails. Bighorn sheep, black bears, blue grouse, cougars, elk, gray wolves, mule deer, ring-necked pheasant, and sage grouse share the remote landscape with the horses, along with 10 species of bat.
BLM's annual wild horse "gather," whereby the herd is culled for adoption, is open to public observation.