See Wyoming’s Medicine Wheel National Monument Up Close
“For the first time, I stood in awe of everything that God made. I couldn’t look at a tree anymore and see so many board feet of timber. I couldn’t look at a beaver lodge and see so many pelts; now I saw little miracles. We have a wheel that takes you from here to there - but they have a wheel that takes you to the stars.”
If you've never been to Wyoming's Medicine Wheel, getting to the Wheel requires not just driving into the Bighorn National Forest near Lovell, WY, but once parked, you also get to take about a mile and a half wander on a gravel road. If needed, certain persons will be permitted to drive the distance instead, at the discretion of park rangers. And I say "wander", but it's a pretty healthy walk in the end.
At the end of the walk, a large display made of white limestone is laid out, mounds of stone and trails are in the pattern of a center wheel, spokes, and the outer rim. The entire feature is fenced in and a ranger keeps watch. A notice at the parking area below reads that only celebrating Natives are allowed inside the Wheel, and no non-Natives are allowed to leave offerings. The gifts left behind are sacred and only for those whose culture and beliefs are connected to the Wheel.
When I visited, a couple First Nations women from Washington had also just arrived, and spent several moments praying and offering sprinkles of earth or a small fan of sage. They said they were on a road trip through the country, and the Medicine Wheel was one of their goals.
The Wheel is massive, incredibly old (dated anywhere from 200 years to 10,000), and powerful. Imagining the people hundreds and thousand of years ago who moved those rocks, and with such intention that the rocks and structure has never moved since, is incredible.
For a closer look at the Medicine Wheel National Monument and details on the meaning behind it and the offerings left behind, check out the gallery below: