Wind River Indian Reservation Trail
The Wind River Reservation Trail offers a cultural peek into the history of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, who share the beautiful wide-open spaces northwest of Lander and Riverton.
Shoshone Hot Springs
Full Day Driving Tour- 70 Miles Round-Trip from Fort Washakie
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 Eastern Shoshone moved to what they call the “Warm Valley” from the Great Basin area and the Arapaho are originally from Colorado.
Fort Washakie, a former U.S. military outpost set up in 1870 as Camp Brown and renamed in 1878, is now the headquarters of the tribes’ government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Wind River Agency and the center of community of life for the Shoshone people.
From the Shoshone Tribal Service Station on the corner of Hwy. 287 and North Fork Road, turn towards the mountains (west) on North Fork Road less than 1 block to the former military compound where some of the original buildings are still in use.
Continue on North Fork road for one-half mile to the Fort 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. Bear left onto South Fork Road and travel south 1.4 miles to Cemetery Lane. Take a left and you will see Sacajawea’s cemetery on the right. A monument and a life-sized bronze statue honors the famous guide of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who many believe is buried here. Also on the grounds is the log building that housed the first school for Indians in 1878.
Continue down Cemetery Lane to Trout Creek Road and turn left. On the right you will see the Roberts Shoshone Episcopal Mission, founded by Reverend John Roberts, pioneer missionary to the Shoshone people for 66 years. In 1889,, Chief Washakie gave Reverend Roberts 160 acres of land for the site of Mission and a boarding school for Shoshone girls. A plaque at the entrance describes the history of the mission.
Travel east on Trout Creek Road for 2 miles and you will come to the intersection with Hwy. 287. On the right is a grocery store, bank, and businesses that sell Natie American arts and crafts. To continue the tour, cross Hwy. 287 onto Ethete Road.
Drive one mile east on Ethete road and you will see Fort Washakie elementary School on the left. At the east end of the school building in the Rupert Weeks Traditional Center, also called the Eastern Shoshone Culture Center. Featured are exhibits of tribal culture arts and crafts, and historical information and photos. Adjacent to the Center is the Fort Washakie Community Library and Technology Center that has a virtual high school and distance learning lab on site. Travelers are welcome to use the online computers.
Follow 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 if you take a right onto Hwy. 132/Blue Sky Highway, you will see (on the left) original buildings of St. Michael’s Mission, where in the mid 1900s many Arapaho children attended school at Faith Hall.
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/Blue Sky Hwy. In 2 miles, you will come to 17-mile Road/Hwy. 137, which may not be marked. Turn left, heading east for 17 miles. At the junction of highways 138 and 137/ Rendezvous Road veer left onto Rendezvous Road. You will see the St. Stephen’s Elementary School in the shape of a tepee. Take a right on Mission road and follow the road past the school and left into the Mission.
The original buildings still exist and Mass is held in the historic remodeled church. There is a gift shop and Heritage Center where you will find historic photographs and arts and crafts. 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.
The Northern Arapaho Experience Culture Room is located in the Wind River Casino at 10269 Hwy. 789, just south of Riverton. You will learn about the past, present and future of the Northern Arapaho Tribe through exhibits and tribal artifacts. A tribal elder is present to guide you. The casino also offers weekly Native American dance exhibitions in the summer.
Half Day Driving Tour- 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.