Pryor Mountain WSA
The Pryor Mountain WSA includes public lands in both Montana (12,575 acres) and Wyoming (4,352 acres). This information encompasses the entire WSA.
|Carbon County, MT|
| ||Big Horn County, WY|
|BLM Acreage: |
12,575 acres (MT)
4,352 acres (WY)
Recommended for Wilderness:
|12,575 acres (MT) |
| ||822 acres (MT outside of WSA) |
| ||4,352 acres (WY) |
Primitive & Unconfined Recreation: The foothills and canyons in the WSA offer excellent opportunities for hiking, backpacking, nature and wildlife photography, rock climbing, nature study and viewing geologic features. Hunting opportunities would not be outstanding in relation to the higher forested areas to the north. Horseback riding opportunities would be excellent, but only on a short-trip basis due to the lack of water and forage. The WSA is located in the central portion of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR) and wild horse viewing is a major recreational use of the area.
Description: The WSA is located along the mid-elevation, south-trending slopes of the Pryor Mountains in Montana and Wyoming. Elevations range from 3,780 ft. at the southern end of the WSA to 8,480 ft. in the north. Vegetation at the lower elevations is characterized by the Red Desert/salt shrub community. The mid-elevations of the WSA are characterized by the mountain shrub community, including Utah juniper, mountain mahogany and big sagebrush. Douglas fir and limber pine occur in patches at the highest elevations of the WSA, along with occasional open parks with big sagebrush, shrubby cinquefoil and a variety of grasses.
Naturalness: The majority of the WSA is in a natural condition. Topography severely limits any possibility of cross-country vehicle travel and the WSA does not exhibit significant evidence of human use. The limited evidence of human presence within the study area is not concentrated in any particular area and mostly is well screened by topography and vegetation. The area contains one range management exclosure, one water catchment, one reservoir, three wild horse traps, 45 miles of fence, and six miles of vehicular ways. There are at least twenty-three prospecting pits for uranium within the study area, mostly located along or near boundary roads. The overall influence of human features within the study area as perceived by the average visitor is negligible.
Solitude: Opportunities for solitude throughout the majority of the WSA are outstanding. The intricate drainage patterns and topographic relief offer individuals or groups ample opportunities for isolation.
The WSA is 13 miles in length and one to three miles in width. The topography varies from an arid Sonoran landform in the south, to mountain foothills in the central region, to densely forested mountains in the north. Each portion offers excellent opportunities for solitude.
The expanse of the southern portion compensates for its lack of vegetative screening. Patches of juniper and eroded hills provide some screening. The central portion is more broken with many patches of timber. The mountain topography in the north is characterized by steep cliffs, dense timber and excellent opportunities for solitude.
Big Coulee is the major north-south drainage near the center of this WSA. This deep channel with an array of rugged side drainages would tend to spread users and increase opportunities for solitude.
Special Features: The designation of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, the first in the United States, is a noteworthy feature. The presence of wild horse herds, in association with native wildlife species, enhances the wilderness qualities of the area. Approximately 120 wild horses roam the PMWHR.
Several archaeological sites have been found in this study area. Dominant site types are lithic scatters, some of which also contain hearths, and discarded or lost stone tools. Also, both vertebrate and invertebrate fossils have been found in the area. The Crooked Creek Natural Landmark is a National Register site for vertebrate fossils.
The primary big game species found in the study area are mule deer, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and black bear. Mule deer are the most abundant of these species. Black bear are also quite abundant in the northern portion of the WSA; this area provides the necessary hibernating, forage, and cover requirements.