The South Big Horn/Red Wall Scenic Backway is a horseshoe-shaped, 102-mile route that explores the southern end of the Big Horn Mountain Range. It begins and ends by leaving U.S. 20/26 in central Wyoming west of Casper and east of Shoshone.
The Backway is mostly a gravel road, passable for most high-clearance vehicles in the summer and fall. Trailers, fifth-wheelers and motor homes are not suited for this Backway.
Wide Open Spaces
Slow and methodical, the oil field pumps (locals call them “cow scratchers”) add a bit of motion to the otherwise docile, vast prairie. The antelope watch you pass. They return to grazing. The sage rustles in the wind.
This is the vast interior of Wyoming, the open range land of ranchers and of solitude. You’re more likely to encounter a flock of sheep on this Backway than another vehicle, so be prepared to stop—open range means open range.
As you slowly gain elevation through Fifty-Mile Flat, the landscape begins to change. Ponderosa pines spring up from the prairie, along with wind-carved rock formations. The red mesas begin to gain in prominence, and soon you’ll find yourself face-to-face with Red Wall. A long, northwest-to-south-east escarpment of red sandstone and shale, Red Wall is not just a geologic marvel. It also marks an interesting historic site. Not far to the north is the famous Hole-in-the-Wall, hideout of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Butch and Sundance
History books say Butch Cassidy, born Robert LeRoy Parker, and the Sundance Kid, born Harry Longabaugh, went down in a blaze of glory during a gunfight with local law enforcement near San Vincent, Bolivia, on November 6, 1908. They left Wyoming in 1901 in an attempt to evade the Pinkerton Detective Agency, known today as the FBI.
There is much debate over whether this was the duo's true fate. Some believe instead the story told by Butch's sister, Lula Parker Betenson, that the outlaws faked their deaths and returned to the States, living anonymously for years before both dying in the 1930s. No matter which story you believe, one thing is certain: They leave behind a legacy of mystery and intrigue that entices thousands of people to retrace their footsteps throughout Wyoming.