The dust bellows as we go up the road, hitting sections that are rocky and rutted. Cars would have a difficult time proceeding. We continue up. Part of the land is private, some is tribally owned. Other sections are public lands open for recreational use. Hiking is unrestricted, but there are no maintained trails.
We have taken the 4 wheelers and ridden the roads around the Pryor Mountains. I ride the more easy trails. Refusing to go up higher. The shadows take on sinister foreboding as I wrestle with inner demons. Looking down into the ravines literally takes my breath away.
One time we rent a double up so I can ride behind my husband. During the scary parts of the ride I squeeze my eyes closed. As we ride, the tires crunch and spin along the rocky paths. I feel like we are tipping, about to roll and tumble to the bottom. My heart jack-hammers until we reach more level ground.
The mountain was named for Nathaniel Hale Pryor, a member of the Corp of Discovery. The Absalooke (Crow) consider this mountain sacred. Their name for the mountain is “Arrow Shot Into Rock”.
Traveling through the Pryors, the lucky viewer may catch a glimpse of wild horses. The wild horse refuge in the Pryor’s was established in 1968. Lots of caves can be found in the region, the most visited one is “The Big Ice Cave”. Several species of bats live in the area including some that are listed as “species of concern”: the pallid bats, spotted bat, and the Townsend’s big-eared bat. You might even see a Bighorn Sheep.
Nearby on the Crow reservation is a small community that takes its name from the Pryor Mountains. Just outside of Pryor is the Chief Plenty Coups State Park and museum. During the fall a "Day of Honor" is celebrated to remember him.
I believe Chief Plenty Coups was a great trickster. During the time that the US government was taking Indian land, he donated his land back to the government to be used by all people. How his spirit must have laughed as this piece of land caused the government many frustrating moments, even as they became stewards of the land. Eventually establishing a State Park commemorating Chief Plenty Coups’ vision that it would become a Place of Peace.