Medicine Lodge: Etchings of the Past

medicine lodge wyoming
Sandstone bluff containing petroglyphs and pictographs at Medicine Lodge

The obvious feature along Medicine Lodge Creek is the 750 foot long sandstone bluff containing a fascinating display of petroglyphs and pictographs. Petroglyphs are images carved into the stone with a sharp object. Pictographs are painted onto the surface. I imagine the bluff has caught the attention of both Native Americans and European settlers for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that an organized archeological study of the area was undertaken.

In 1969 then Wyoming State Archeologist, George Frison, began a methodical dig and inventory of the site. It was discovered that the site has been occupied continuously for over 10,000 years. The layers of relics and artifacts discovered have given us modern visitors to Medicine Lodge a look into how Paleoindians, and more recently the Native American Crow tribe, have lived, including what they ate, the tools they used, and some insight into how they moved across this landscape through the seasons.

The site is now a Wyoming State Archeological Site. It is located  alongside Medicine Lodge Creek; a beautiful mountain stream brimming with brown trout. Located at the western foot of the Bighorn Mountains, this is prime winter range for elk and deer. Its five vegetation zones and perennial water source provide habitat for a diverse population of wildlife. Along with the larger ungulates, birds, rabbits, marmots, beaver, weasels, badgers, porcupines, muskrats, fox, coyote, bob cats and mountain lions are common residents, making Medicine Lodge one of the best wildlife viewing areas in Wyoming.  (Click on images to see larger version).

pictograph medicine lodge wyoming

Pictographs in red paint. You can clearly see a horned animal (bison?) on the far right. Click on image to view larger.
Petroplyph Medicine Lodge
Petroglyph carved into the sandstone bluff.
wyoming rock art
Petroglyph with some later blackish paint? Or maybe it has just weathered to make the upper area darker. You can see the person is holding an arrow.

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