Located in Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming, the medicine wheel is a Native American sacred site that has been in continuous use by various groups since the pre-contact period.

Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark Bighorn National Forest, Lovell, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Constructed in pre-Columbian times, this native stone structure consists of twenty-eight spokes radiating from a central cairn. The circular shape is meant to represent the sun, and the twenty-eight spokes correspond to the length of a lunar month. Around the perimeter of the wheel are several additional cairns, which archaeologists and astronomers believe were placed in order to indicate the location of certain key astronomical events, the timing of which were important for various religious observations.

Today, the Medicine Wheel is still considered a sacred site by various native groups who visit it for vision quests, healing ceremonies, and as part of religious observations connected with solar and stellar activity.


Astronomers at the Stanford University SOLAR Center have written extensively about how they believe the wheel was used to calculate astronomical events.