Environmental Research Opportunities at Spear-O

Intellectual Merit:

The Bighorn Mountains represent an exceptional system for study, largely because the mountains offer protected, wilderness and geographically-isolated populations.  The Bighorn Mountains are an isolated range of the Southern Rocky Mountains and are situated between the arid Bighorn Basin to the west and the Great Plains to the east. The Bighorns have diverse and unique ecological systems, including fens, kettle ponds, meadows, alpine tundra, and high elevation lakes. Lodge-pole pine and fir dominate the local forest, with opportunities to study fire ecology and the dynamics of old growth stands. Betewen patches of forest are vast meadows filled with a striking diversity of wildflowers. Opportunities abound to study the effects of grazing and human recreational activity on these ecosystems. The area surronding Spear-O supports populations of pika, red squirrel, yellow-bellied marmot, moose, black bear, elk, and a variety of amphibian and bird species. Even with these attributes, the ecology of the Bighorns remains conspicuously understudied.  Although the region, including the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, is open to public access, there are many areas within the permit that never or very seldom have a human visitor, making it a pristine research locale. Researchers from around the nation are invited to establish research activities at the field station, whether it involve natural history, ecological diversity, climate change, human impacts on mongane environments, or other areas of interest.

Beaver Lakes Field Station:

As a part of the Mountain Campus, the field station is a remote location in close proximity to the surrounding Cloud Peak Wilderness Area and the associated high alpine areas. The primitive camp includes tent-cabins for sleeping and a central cook tent-cabin. A shower house is available. There is no electricity or cell phone service. The camp has a satellite phone for emergency purposes.  Access to Beaver Lakes Field Station from the Spear-O-Wigwam Campus is by horseback or by foot, either through the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area (approximately 15 miles), or by road/trails that circumvents around the wilderness. There is also motorized access to within one and a half miles from the camp.

Educational Center Special Use Permit Area:

Permit boundary is indicated by the yellow line. Cloud Peak Wilderness Area is represented by the darker shaded area. “Mountain Campus” is the Spear-O-Wigwam site. Beaver Lakes Field Station is indicated by the second arrow.

Spear-O Forest Service map 2014 yellow line

Apply to do your Research at Spear-O-Wigwam/Beaver Lakes:

Applications are due by March 15, 2016.  Applicants will receive notification of acceptance no later than April 15, 2016, at which time a 50% deposit will be required to hold your place.

Please complete the application and email to


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