After we left the Tetons I really wanted to go check out the Wind River Range. I had planned a backpacking trip to the Cirque of Towers(Google some pictures!) years before and it didn’t end up happening. So this was my chance to get a look. We stopped at Rim Station for a night on the way to dump, shower, and refill our water and propane (The only night we’ve paid for in over a month now!). It was a nice park right on the border of the national forest. From there we drove into Pinedale to stock up on groceries again.
From there it was back to the boondocks 🙂 We stayed at a spot about half way up Skyline Dr(740) and the road lives up to it’s name with some pretty spectacular views. Our spot was at the Nordic Ski area, during the summer there are 5 to 7 spots there all very well spread out and several of them would fit almost anything. I found the spot indirectly through FreeCampsites.net. The road was mentioned as having nicer spots than down by the lake. We confirmed this with the ranger whose station is actually on the way up(convenient or what?). Even better it’s a paved road all the way up to the nordic ski area (and beyond to Trails End), then it’s a good dirt road. Unfortunately there was construction along Skyline Dr but the delay wasn’t more then 10 minutes and you couldn’t hear it from the spot.
After getting situated we decided to ride our bikes up to Trails End. It was a long uphill ride but the views were spectacular. It took us about two hours to ride up and about 15 minutes down. I forgot to start my GPS but I’m pretty sure we hit 35-40 mph, it was amazing. The next day we went back up to Trails End to do some hiking. Again the views were stunning, much like the Tetons but with a lot fewer people. The forest can be difficult to access so it’s mostly backpackers in the area and even then the trail-heads are usually down long gravel roads. Luckily not the case on Skyline Dr.
However the next day we drove about an hour from 191 to 352 and finally to 650 to get to another trailhead where you can hike some of the CDT(Continental Divide Trail). 650 is a 10 mile gravel road that runs along the Green River all the way to green river lakes. There are boondocking spots all along both 650 and 600 also, with many on the river. From there you can hike the CDT to views of Flat Top a stunning mountain with a…… flat top. The view across the lake and on to Flat Top is on the cover of the map for this ranger district if that tells you anything. Speaking of maps, whatever you do, do not buy the official map for this ranger district. It was next to useless Benchmark Wyoming book had much(much!) more detail. None of the trails in the wilderness area were on the map?? Also be aware that the maps at the trailhead list the trail numbers but on the trail they have names?? Anyways we were able to find our way despite all of that.
I will definitely be coming back to the Wind River Range, I still haven’t done the hike to the Cirque de Towers. It was too cold to go without getting a new sleeping bag for Victoria (I ended up buying a used Western Mountaineering bag in Moab for $150!). If you like to hike or backpack this has to be one of the premier areas in the country. Plus since it’s a National Forest we can take our dog with us. Yes she can hike 10-15 miles a day in the mountains no problem.
Up next Dinosaur National Monument.