Posts From The Road: Shell Creek Canyon On Big Horn Scenic Byway In Wyoming

Red Rocks & Green Pastures: Sheep graze in lush green pastures as the red rocks landscape and Big Horn Mountains rise in the background near Greybull, Wyo. Photo by Gary Warren/

Redlands: Red rocks and redlands welcome visitors as they approach Shell Creek Canyon on the Big Horn Scenic Byway a few miles east of Greybull, Wyo. Photo by Gary Warren/

Formerly of Los Alamos

On a trip to Wyoming three years ago we drove a portion of the Bighorn Scenic Byway which crosses the Bighorn Mountains in the north central area of the state. However, we did not drive the southern leg of the byway. Earlier this month on a return trip from Montana, we returned to the Bighorn Mountains to travel and see the rest of the Scenic Byway.

We drove the byway from the western end beginning in the Bighorn Basin and wandering east through the canyons and mountains. Traveling east from Greybull, Wyoming, the first few miles of the drive crosses the eastern side of the Bighorn Basin before winding through Shell Creek Canyon and onward up the mountain.

Shortly before entering Shell Creek Canyon, travelers see the landscape change from irrigated farmland and arid desert basin terrain to beautiful red rocks. These colors continue for a ways up the canyon until the road rises over a ridge on the scenic byway.

After a brief drive across the ridge, the star of Shell Creek Canyon appears. Shell Falls is a powerful waterfall that flows over a granite base before falling 120 feet with force.

The mountainous portion of the Bighorn Scenic Byway is spectacular but driving the route from the west through Shell Creek Canyon was a thrill. The colors and size of these magnificent canyon cliffs are amazing. Shell Creek flows from the Bighorn Mountains and runs to the Bighorn River near the town of Greybull.

Wyoming has a diverse landscape but the northern mountains are really special. If traveling north through Wyoming, a little extra time to explore the Big Horn Mountains and the scenic byway would not disappoint.

Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn were traveling around the country prior to the pandemic and he has been sharing his photographs, which appear in the ‘Posts from the Road’ series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Shell Creek Canyon: The scenic byway passes over Shell Creek just before entering the colorful Shell Creek Canyon. The canyon creates an impressive entrance to the Big Horn Mountains.

Shell Creek: The massive canyon walls overlook Shell Creek as the waters flow through the canyon. The creek begins high in the Big Horn Mountains and flows into the Big Horn River near the town of Greybull. Photo by Gary Warren/

Canyon Roadway: The roadway winds through Shell Creek Canyon on the Big Horn Scenic Byway. The creek and canyon walls create incredible scenery through the canyon. Photo by Gary Warren/

Shell Falls: A few miles up the road visitors are treated to the star of this portion of the Big Horn Scenic Byway, Shell Falls. Water in the granite lined falls drop 120 feet before flowing through the canyon and onto the Big Horn River. Water falls at a rate of 3,600 gallons per second over Shell Falls. Photo by Gary Warren/

Rushing Water: A wide view of the falls and the bend in Shell Creek show the massive amount of water flowing through the granite canyon. To gain perspective, the white boulder in the middle of the creek just after the falls and sharp turn in the creek is about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle! Photo by Gary Warren/