Epic Things to Do in the Wind River Range
If you haven’t heard of the Wind River Range in Wyoming, you need to get this place on your radar. This 100 mile stretch of the Rocky Mountains is full of spectacular beauty. There are impressive peaks, thousands of crystal clear alpine lakes, and trails galore. It is a backpackers paradise, except for the mosquitoes, we could do without those. We did several day hikes and drives in the six days we visited. Below we’ll list the highlights of our trip.
The Cirque of the Towers
This is probably the most well known area of The Wind River Range. Overnight backpacking trips of this iconic loop are common. Unfortunately we do not carry backpacking gear in our van so we were only able to squeeze in a day hike. The 16 miles that we did see were stunning and have left us itching for more. We will definitely be back to this region when we can stay in the back country! Head over to our post on Day Hiking the Cirque of The Towers for more information on this leg of our visit. And if you are planning a backpacking trip of The Cirque, check out our post on essential backpacking gear.
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Pinedale is the gateway to the west side of The Wind River Range. It is a cute small town whose motto is “All the Civilization You Need.” There are several gorgeous lakes you can drive to as well as trail heads to start trips into the mountains. Be sure to check out The Great Outdoor Shop. They have an awesome selection of anything you need for hiking and camping and the staff is super knowledgeable. We normally like to go to the ranger station whenever we get into a National Park or National Forest area, unfortunately the station was closed due to COVID. The guys at The Great Outdoor Shop were able to give us some awesome suggestions for hikes and knew a ton about the area. If you’re looking for coffee, Pine Coffee Supply has delicious coffee and these guys are super passionate about what they’re doing. Though we did not go to the brewpub, we were able to get try Wind River Brewing Company beer from the store, it is delicious and they have a huge patio!
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This is one of the more popular hikes in the Pinedale area. That being said, it has nowhere near the crowds of the National Parks. The hike begins at the Elkhart trailhead. It is 9.4 miles out and back with a very gradual 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The overlook offers a stunning panorama of the mountain range- hence the name Photographer’s Point. We enjoyed this hike but read on for our favorite view in the area!
This hike wasn’t even in our plans until it was suggested by the guys at The Great Outdoors. The hike begins at the Elkhart Trailhead. There were not many people on the trail and we ended up having the outlook all to ourselves for sunset. We thought this spot was prettier than Photographers Point, it was less crowded, and the hike was shorter at only 4.2 miles. The trail is dog friendly so we were able to bring Joni along, she had a blast! Watching the rocks light up with the sunset was a magical experience. Highly recommend this hike!
As a swimmer, I have some appreciation for a beautiful body of water. This was one of the coldest but one of the most pleasant places I have ever swam. I was freezing my butt off but grinning ear to ear at the landscape surrounding me. There is an awesome swimming beach on the south side of the lake. Unfortunately the beach is not dog friendly as the city water supply for Pinedale comes from this lake. The CCC ponds down the road are dog friendly so we were able to take Joni there.
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Green River Lake
Located in the northern part of The Wind River Range, this area is known for Squaretop Mountain and its fishing. There is a ton of dispersed camping along the river on the way into Green River Lake. We got lucky and got an epic spot with a view of Squaretop Mountain. This place is super busy on the weekend in the summer however. The mosquitoes are bad everywhere in The Wind River Range but this area definitely took the cake. They don’t care much about DEET either, they will still bite you. This is definitely a place to wear long sleeves and pants.
The Wind River Range is full of stunning sights. Whether you are a backpacker, day hiker, fisherman, or nature enthusiast, there is something for everyone in this area! If this has inspired you to make a trip, we hope these tips have helped you. Be sure to subscribe by email so you don’t miss a post. Now get out there and Create Your Own Roadshow!