Wind River Indian Reservation Trail
FULL DAY DRIVING TOUR
70 miles Round-Trip From Fort Washakie
Once a U.S. military establishment frequented by members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, Fort Washakie is now the headquarters of the tribe's government and the Bureau of Indians Affairs agency. The 1.7+ million-acre Reservation is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes and was established in 1864 through the Bridger-Teton Treaty with the U.S. government. The Arapaho are originally from Colorado.
Begin at the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center at 31 Black Coal Street, where you will get an in-depth look into the history and culture of the Shoshone Tribe. From the Shoshone Tribal Exxon Station on the corner of Hwy. 287 and North Fork Road, head south on North Fork Road less than 1 block to the former military compound. Following the signs, take the first right into the compound. The second building on your left, a large white house adjacent to the Wind River Agency, is where you will find the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center. After touring the center, go back onto North Fork Road and take a right. Head south for one-half mile, to the Ft. Washakie Cemetery on your right. The last chief of the Shoshone Tribe, Chief Washakie, is buried in the older section of the cemetery. A large headstone marks his grave.
Upon leaving Ft. Washakie Cemetery, turn right onto North Fork Road and travel for 2 blocks. At this point North Fork Road and South Fork Road divide. Bear left onto South Fork Road and travel south 1.4 miles to Sacajawea Cemetery, where many say the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition guide is buried. Take a left onto Cemetery Lane, and you will find Sacajawea's monument in the cemetery on the right, which is open to the public. Continue down Cemetery Lane to Trout Creek Road and turn left. On the right you will see the Shoshone Episcopal Mission, founded by the famous Reverend Roberts. A historic plaque describes the history of the building. In 2 miles you will come to the intersection with Hwy. 287. There are several locations in Fort Washakie to look for fine Native American art and crafts. To continue the tour, cross Hwy. 287 onto Ethete Road.
Chief Washakie Hot Springs
In 2.2 miles, you will see the Chief Washakie Hot Springs on your left, which offers an outdoor hot springs pool and private indoor baths for your relaxation.The Shoshone Indians have long believed in the healing effects of mineral hot springs. If you plan to visit the springs, inquire about hours and rates at the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center or call 332-9106.
Continue down the Ethete Road for 3.4 miles to the heart of the Northern Arapaho community, Ethete, which means "good" in the Arapaho language. At the 4-way intersection there is a stop light where you will take a right onto Hwy. 132 and then a quick left into St. Michael's Mission. The old buildings were once part of an Episcopal mission. Faith Hall, the large building toward the back on the side of the mission, was the school building. In front of Faith Hall you will find the Northern Arapaho Cultural Museum, which houses traditional tribal artifacts.
St. Stephen's Mission, a Catholic mission founded in the early 1900s, can be found by going back out of St. Michael's and turning left onto Hwy. 132. In 2 miles, you will come to 17-mile Road, which may not be marked. Turn left, heading east for 17 miles. At the end of the road, take a left at the junction of highways 138 and 37 Rendezvous Road. You will see the St. Stephen's School, in the shape of a tepee, where you will take a right onto Mission Road.
Follow the road past the school and to the left into the mission grounds. The original mission buildings still exist and Mass is still held in the old, recently remodeled church. A gift shop and heritage center are open to the public in the building to the left of the church and the North American Indian Heritage Center is located above the youth center in the yellow building to the right of the church. Stairs to this center are on the far end of the building, in the back. The center offers historic photographs of tribal members and has printed several publications.Once you've toured the mission, follow the same route to get back to Fort Washakie or take a right from Mission Road onto Rendezvous Road to the intersection with Hwy. 789. From here you can go right to Hudson and Lander or left to Riverton.
HALF DAY OPTION
Less Than 30 Miles Round-Trip
For a half-day tour, visit the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center, the two cemeteries, the Shoshone Episcopal Mission and St. Michael's Mission in Ethete. These stops will give you the historical background of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Or visit the Shoshone Tribal Resource Center, St. Michael's Mission and the Chief Washakie Hot Springs on way back to Fort Washakie if you'd like to relax in the thermal hot springs.
SHOSHONE HOT SPRINGS
Long, long ago, a young chief and his maiden friend were walking in what white men now call Wind River Canyon. The legend says a strong wind picked an eagle feather from the Chief's hair and wafted it down the canyon. Since the right to wear the feather had been won with much danger to his life in attacking an enemy, the young warrior and his sweetheart ran, following the feather. They found it beside a vent where steam issued from the earth. Knowing that the Great Spirit had led them, they were not afraid. They bathed in the warm springs and told their tribe about them. The tribe camped nearby, everyone bathed, aches of the old were cured and young warriors became even more strong and vigorous.