Guest Blog by Mike Kuffel
As I scrolled through news feeds while riding the bus to work one day in early 2018, a headline caught my eye about a treasure worth millions hidden in the Rocky Mountains in 2010. I was skeptical, but read about Forrest Fenn hiding a chest full of treasure he had collected over the years that could only be found by solving a poem he wrote. My curiosity grew, so I did a little more digging, and found a few trustworthy sources, such as dalneitzel.com. A vast online world of treasure hunters shared ideas. Many followed their theories into the mountains and a few tragically died trying.
After hundreds of hours analyzing Forrest Fenn’s memoir, The Thrill of The Chase, and other resources, I finally pieced together the location of Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure. In addition to his first memoir, I bought and read many of Forrest’s books, and looked for other publications that included information from Forrest. In addition, I spent much of my time scouring satellite maps for site names and plausible search areas that aligned with the poem.
I started recognizing mountain regions without checking names and landmarks. I read through the The Thrill of The Chase many times, sometimes analyzing every image with a magnifying glass, other times researching references in the book, such as Billy The Kid’s .41 caliber revolver was named “Thunderer” like a mountain in the Lamar Valley. Periodically, I discovered deliberate hints that would narrow the search area and ultimately lead to the final solution.
After diving down many rabbit holes, I eventually used the vague poem as guardrails that could only be clarified by aligning geographic references and GPS coordinates found in Forrest’s books and other content. There may be other ways, and no doubt I missed more hints than I found, but the references below led me and my mom to the end of Forrest’s rainbow (44° 51′ 57″ N, 110° 08′ 48″ W).
Forrest has yet to reveal the location, but I have extensive corroborating evidence that demonstrates the validity of this location, IMHO. I am contemplating the best way to share more detailed information that led me to this location.
- “Begin it where warm waters halt”
- Start at Ice Box Canyon, NE corner of Yellowstone National Park
- “And take it in the canyon down,”
- Drive down highway 212 along Soda Butte Creek
- “Not far, but too far to walk.”
- Continue driving a few miles
- “Put in below the home of Brown.”
- Park and cross Soda Butte Creek on foot at the Lamar Bridge
- This location was identified via geographic references, not by the meaning of Brown
- Home of Brown could refer to the Lamar Valley Ranger station once occupied by Ranger Brown, the Buffalo Ranch, Bison of Lamar, Brown Trout, Brown Bear, Moose, basically anything big and brown in the area.
- “From there it’s no place for the meek,”
- Hike off trail into the wilderness angling (pun intended) toward the left end of the big cliffs near the bridge
- “The end is ever drawing nigh;”
- Hike toward a narrow draw between the hills at the left end of the cliffs (the location was determined by analyzing drawings, photos, and paintings)
- “There’ll be no paddle up your creek,”
- Hike uphill alongside the stream, avoiding steep switchback areas, forging through downed trees, dense forest, and rocky areas
- “Just heavy loads and water high.”
- Look for the large boulders on the right upstream
- “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Look quickly down, your quest to cease,”
- If you found GPS coordinates (44° 51′ 57″ N, 110° 08′ 48″ W), you will find a small shelf below a boulder with an overhanging ledge where the chest once sat.
- “But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Just take the chest and go in peace.”
- Don’t stand there marveling, enjoy the thrill of finding the location the chest once occupied, then make a lot of noise before a bear sneaks up on you!
- Seriously, do not make this trek without being fully prepared to encounter wildlife.
For anyone who has purchased The Thrill of The Chase, the best example of hints within art is the drawing of a bombing run. Hints include geographic references of the Lamar Valley, including the Soda Butte cone (bottom middle). The hills in the background have an arrow pointing down in a narrow canyon (top middle). Also, find GPS number 51 in the stones in the bombing area on the right. There are numerous 8s and/or 88 (8.8 minutes is 8 minutes 48 seconds). (p.99 The Thrill of the Chase chapter My War for Me)
In October 2019, I believed I had enough evidence to confirm the chest was within this field of boulders. However, we had just returned from Yellowstone that September and snow had arrived. We planned our trip for June 2020, but on June 6th Forrest announced the treasure had been found. We were shocked and in disbelief.
Ah well, we had always been more interested in solving the challenge than collecting the reward, so we kept our plans and continued our adventure to our own thrilling conclusion. Could we find where the chest had been?
We knew confirming the location would be harder without a treasure chest as confirmation. I wanted to correlate satellite shapes in the boulders, but none of them panned out in person. GPS signals drifted, making the task more difficult as well. We searched high and low in the rocks until my mom noticed a small flat shelf beneath an overhanging ledge that formed a triangle. I had seen this shape multiple times in Forrest’s books, including roof lines with extended overhanging roofs and attic doors, particularly a small building among boulders.
We found where Forrest hid the treasure. The chase was over.
My mom and I made five trips to Yellowstone since May 2018, and almost bagged the prize. We enjoyed the “Thrill of the Chase” and crossed the finish line. We had great adventures and will always cherish the memories and photos of our adventures in Yellowstone. Thanks Mom!
Thank you for visiting!
Mike Kuffel (firstname.lastname@example.org)