Big Horn Lake Celebration this weekend!

Triathletes enter the water in the 2012 Bighorn Lake Triathlon.
Triathletes enter the water in the 2012 Bighorn Lake Triathlon.

Free boat rides, an intro to kayaking and a triathlon set the stage for another fun-filled Big Horn Lake Celebration on Saturday at Horseshoe Bend in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. This is the seventh year for the annual event, co-sponsored by Friends of Big Horn Lake and the Bighorn Canyon NRA.


The day will begin bright and early with a triathlon starting at 7:30 a.m.

The triathlon course for adult participants includes an 800-yard swim, a 12-mile bike ride, followed by a three-mile run. As in previous years, the youth division course will be half the adult course distance.

“This is a good course for all ability levels,” said race organizer Ben Zeller. “It’s fairly short, but most will find it very challenging.”

Zeller reported earlier this week he had around 80 signed up for the triathlon and expects a few more entries to trickle in before the deadline for entries, which is midnight on Friday.

A triathlete himself, Zeller said he tested the water with a practice swim earlier this week and that the water was warm and the conditions were just right for a good swim.

Information about the event can be found online at

Or call Zeller at 307-254-0344 or email

Boat rides

Friends of Big Horn Lake will be offering free boat rides again this year from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The rides are around 30 minutes in length and 15 boats have been volunteered to provide the rides, giving everyone attending the event an opportunity to enjoy a leisurely ride through the canyon.

Triathlon participants and their families are invited to take advantage of the free boat rides and to enjoy the picnic areas and supervised swim beach, which will also be open.

Hidden Treasures Boat Tours will also be offering their regular tours of the lake on a fee basis on both Saturday and Sunday.

Canoe and kayak rentals are also available at the marina for those who want to create their own adventure.

The campground is also open but is expected to be full.

Intro to kayaking

The Park Service will also be offering an introduction to its new guided kayak program on Saturday, with demonstrations, information and park service personnel available to take people out on short 15-minute paddles. The kayak program will take place on the beach following the triathlon from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information contact Christy Fleming at 548-5406.

Excellent lake conditions

Event organizer Bob Croft said the lake is almost full and should be completely full by Saturday due to extra water that is being released from Buffalo Bill Reservoir this week.

“We are a foot and half away from being completely full right now,” said Croft. “We’ll easily have a full lake for people to enjoy by Saturday. Everyone is going to be really happy.”

Croft said he thinks the Bureau of Reclamation managed the lake well this year.

“In light of minimal snowpack in the Wind Rivers, I think the Bureau handled things really well this year,” he said. “The lake is full, the water is fairly warm, the fishing is great and we expect it to be another exciting time for everyone who comes on Saturday.”

Croft said he is expecting a good turnout including a number of foreign visitors from China, Japan, Germany, France and other parts of the world.

“Many people passing through the area have discovered the canyon and return on a regular basis to enjoy all it has to offer,” said Croft.

by Patti Carpenter