Outlaw Cave – Middle Fork of the Powder River Recreation Area
This area is located about 20 miles southwest of Kaycee, Wyoming, (map) in a spectacularly scenic part of the Old West that is rich with legend of outlaw activity in the late 1800s. The area contains around 70,000 acres of public land with such notable sites as Outlaw Cave and the Hole-in-the-Wall, whose names were immortalized by Butch Cassidy’s famous outlaw gang.
Before you start, we recommend that you have a high-clearance vehicle as some of these roads are very primitive. We also recommend that you do not venture out into these areas in inclement weather.
Let’s Go! From Kaycee, Wyoming, take Wyoming Highway 190 about 15 miles to Barnum. Follow the BLM Bar C Road 5 miles south. This road is an improved all-weather access road.
The BLM Bar C Road turns into the BLM Outlaw Cave Road which heads west about 3 miles up the mountains to Outlaw Cave Campground on the rimrock of the Middle Fork of the Powder River Canyon. Outlaw Cave Road is closed in the winter from November 16 through April 15.
The Middle Fork area is very diverse, ranging in elevation from 5,000 to over 8,000 feet with numerous steep incised canyons, a red sandstone escarpment known as the Red Wall, and open grassland parks interspersed with ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and limber pine forests. The wildlife found here are just as diverse: elk, mule deer, antelope, mountain lions, eagles, among other small mammals and rodents.
The Middle Fork of the Powder River lies at the bottom of a fairly steep canyon. But, if you can make your way down, the fishing at the bottom is excellent! This is a “blue ribbon” trout stream containing brown and rainbow trout. Only artificial flies and lures are allowed; no natural bait. Other fishable streams in the area include Blue Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Eagle Creek. Fishing and hunting licenses are required and can be obtained from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
This area also contains sites dating back to the prehistoric period: stone circles, quarry sites, and work areas. Some of the more unusual sites, such as the Rock Art Cave and Bar C Cairn Line, can be seen here. The cave features some curious petroglyphs. The cairn line, which can be seen next to Outlaw Cave Road, is a prehistoric alignment of rock piles for which there is no known purpose.
The Outlaw Cave Trail provides access to the Middle Fork Powder River from the Outlaw Cave Campground. The trail descends steeply into Middle Fork Canyon, dropping nearly 1,000 feet in elevation before intersecting the river just opposite the infamous Outlaw Cave (map).
From Kaycee, Wyoming, take Wyoming Highway 190 about 15 miles to Barnum. Follow the Bar C Road approximately 4 miles south. This road is an improved all-weather access road and travels directly through the headquarters of the Hole-in-the-Wall ranch. Please respect private property rights and all posted signs. The road will continue west another 2 miles past the boundary to the Middle Fork Management area and is graded to the first fishing access. The road becomes quite rough past this point (high-clearance vehicles recommended) as it travels an additional 2 miles to the Outlaw Cave campground on the rimrock of the Middle Fork of the Powder River Canyon. The trail begins at the entrance to the campground.