River foothills are carved into deep canyons sided with steep
dolomite cliff bands that attract rock climbers from around the world to test
their skill. And just a few miles away lies the Red
Desert with its whimsical badlands,
white sand dunes and wild horse herds. Open to the public with no admission
fee, all these areas can be explored from your car, on a short day hike, or on
a multi-day wilderness excursion.
Some of the area’s best hikes aren’t even on the main
trails. Head out to the BLM lands and wander between salmon-colored Nugget Sandstone cliffs or
past Limestone Mountain
near South Pass to catch the early summer wild flowers. Scenic
Red Canyon is
transformed each spring with a blanket of yellow arrowleaf balsamroot that
provides a dramatic backdrop for a scrambling hike along the canyon’s slickrock
rim, and the badlands around Dubois allow for hours of aimless exploring up and
down draws and scree slopes.
The Shoshone National
a well-developed trail system that takes you up into the high country of both
the Wind River and the Absaroka mountains. Within a few
miles you’ll leave the sagebrush behind and enter the cool lodgepole forests of
the mid elevations. Rushing streams pour out of the mountains offering challenging
fishing opportunities for anglers. Higher up, you leave the forests behind and
break out above tree line for dramatic views of waves of mountains and basins
falling away in all directions.
The hiking opportunities vary from a five-minute walk along
a paved path between the Sinks and the Rise of the Middle Fork of the Popo
to multi-day, even multi-week backpacking trips into the mountains.
Wild Iris Mountain Sports in Lander is a good place to start your hiking
adventure. They have guidebooks to the
surrounding area, plus the staff is knowledgeable and can help set you off on
an adventure that will meet your needs and suit your abilities. Or you can
follow the path of thousands of others and get your first wilderness experience
on a course with the National Outdoor
Leadership School, which offers two-week to 30-day adventures in both the
Wind River Mountains and the Absaroka Range, as well as other parts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
that surrounds Wind River Country.
National Geographic Geotourism Map Guide