Farming in the Desert for 100 Years

Powell Interpretive Agriculture Tours in the Big Horn Basin

At the base of Heart Mountain, next to Yellowstone National Park, sits Powell, to clarify, that is in northwest Wyoming. The area is known as the Big Horn Basin; however, you may not know this, but it has undergone climate change. We know this because fossils tell us the Basin was once lush with vegetation. The Shoshone irrigation project allows this high desert to bloom again and provides food for our nation.

Engineering Feats in The Big Horn Basin

Buffalo Bill Dam holds water that releases into miles of tunnels, canals and smaller dams that deliver water to farms in Powell, Wyoming. Firstly, this monumental effort started construction in 1904 and was completed in 1910 as a part of the Shoshone Project, a Bureau of Reclamation venture. Moreover, the Cary Homesteading Act brought farmers westward to work the irrigated land for four districts: Garland (1907), Frannie (1917), Willwood, (1927) and Heart Mountain (1946).

City of Powell, an Agricultural Town in the Big Horn Basin

Incorporated in 1909, the town of Powell has subsequently been an agricultural community ever since. Farmers in Powell are innovative because they had to be. The Powell farmers have been a robust influence from the University of Wyoming Research and Extension Center as well as the Northwest College agricultural programs positions our large family farms, most importantly, to be leaders in the industry.

We put in the hard word over the last century and as a result, our grass-fed beef is lean, our barley is golden, and the local foods are just better in Powell, Wyoming. You can learn the secrets of farming in the desert and how our local irrigation and farming practices makes your food look better in addition to tasting better. The Powell Visitor Center hosts agriculture and local foods tours. For example: bus tours, custom tours, and self-guided tours.

Contact the Powell Visitor Center 307-754-3494, [email protected]

  • Bus Tour Rates - Contact Powell Visitor Center (May 15 - Sept 15)
  • Custom Tours are 3.5 hours and are a flat rate of $300 (May 15 - Sept 15 except Park County Fair week July 23-27)
  • Community Tours available through PVCE (May 15 - Sept 15)
  • Self-Guided Tours coming soon with our Agriculture and Local foods app John Wesley Powell Agriculture Tour (anytime)

Take a Big Horn Basin, Powell Agricultural Tour today — pick your experience.

Bus Tour

Custom Tour

Community Tour


Explore the Big Horn Basin

Homesteading Experience in the Big Horn Basin

Do you have what it takes to be a Homesteader?

Imagine, you travel by wagon, over mountains and across a high desert; however, the terrain is made up of dry silty earth held in place only by a wiry sage brush. The wind blows dirt relentlessly, your face and your hands are covered, similarly, the dust is caked in your hair from sweat.

Meanwhile, weary from the journey, you have arrived at the Homesteading office. You acquire a parcel of land, moreover, the federal government tells you, you have five years to make it productive. After that, you take ownership of a small dwelling called a sod house. The workers who built the dam and irrigation canals that you rely on, today, once lived in this second-hand structure.

Receive more information and visit the Homesteader Museum here.

Photo of man standing in the cabin at the Homesteader Museum
Overhead photo of Homesteader Days Big Horn Basin

Shoshone Irrigation Project in The Big Horn Basin

Not to be left out, Powell was an integral part of the Shoshone Project — a federal Reclamation Project in 1904 that brought irrigation to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. For example, it allowed the farmers to expand productive farmland westward. The people who settled here were rugged and hardworking Homesteaders. Incorporated in 1909 and since then, the town of Powell has been an agricultural community for over a hundred years.

Highlight of the Homesteader Museum in The Big Horn Basin

Beaver Homestead is a favorite for visitors from all over the world. In the backyard of the Homesteader Museum in Powell, Wyoming it sits surrounded by antique farm equipment, as a result, there is a sense of extraordinary faith and fortitude. Most importantly it evokes faith in oneself, faith in one's family, faith in the town because that is the kind of overwhelming faith it takes to toil in the desert.

Visit the Homesteader Museum and take a tour. The Homesteader Museum is the steward of the stories of Powell’s ancestors — the people of our nation who chose to move west.

Way to the Hot Springs

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Native Experience

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Way to the Big Horns

Way to the Big Horns content is not yet available; however, you can contact us and we will provide you with the needed information! For example, we can mail you maps, guides and you can explore more online through the National Forest Service.