July 17, 2017
Wyoming’s Wind River Country is authentic cowboy life and dude ranches. It’s home to some of the most remarkable wildlife viewing in the Rocky Mountains as well as whimsical giant jackalopes. It’s home to the history and modern culture of Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Native American tribes, as well as millions of acres of public lands for endless outdoor recreation.
Wind River Country is also going to experience 100% totality of the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21. This is the heart and soul of America’s Eclipse, and you’ll find an assortment of events and packages that are along the lines of what you might expect: Native American dancing and reenactments, mountain man camping, backcountry trail rides, and races in Sinks Canyon. But there’s more. Here are some of Wind River Country’s more unique total solar eclipse viewing locations and experiences for the adventurous:
- First contact: Breccia Peak This is the first landmark in Wyoming’s Wind River Country that the moon’s shadow will touch, situated in the Bridger Teton National Forest. Escape the crowds of Jackson and Grand Teton National Park by traveling east over the Continental Divide and scenic Togwotee Pass. For experienced hikers and off-trail navigators, this dramatic face of Togwotee Pass offers an unrivaled chance to stand at the edge of our world and watch it go dark.
- From the saddle on a horse. For a twist on a sunset picnic, head into the Wind River Mountains on horseback. Join a local guide or dude ranch, and you and your small group will be treated to a mountain-top picnic, complete with champagne and eclipse safety glasses. Learn more about high country eclipse rides.
- From the saddle on a jackalope. Pair your celestial experience with a mythical creature in the heart of Dubois, Wyoming. Home to two huge, saddled state caricatures primed for photo-ops, the Dubois Exxon Country Store will be near the center line of totality, affording you a completely absurd viewing experience—if the line of kids waiting to take an Instagram snap atop the giant jackalope don’t push you off to take their own turn.
- Crowheart, Wyoming. This village of 141 souls, located on the outer edges of the Wind River Indian Reservation, typically hosts one big event each year: The Festival of the Cowboys. This year, they are near the center line of totality for eclipse viewing. Find something special at the sole place to buy anything—the character-rich Crowheart Store—and settle in in the figurative shadow of the nearby storied Crowheart Butte*. Visible from town, this butte was the sight of an epic battle between Indian tribes in the 1800s, one you can learn more about while in town.
- Pull a Cheryl Strayed. The book “Wild” has been done, even overdone. So pack your backpack right and head deep into the mountains on the Continental Divide Trail. We don’t know where you’ll go, but be sure you stay within the path of the total eclipse. Find an unnamed lake, then name it after the eclipse (or after yourself for that matter)!
- Midday sunset over a color-changing lake. A total solar eclipse brings sunset (or sunrise) colors to the horizon on all sides in the middle of the day—in this case, at 11:38 a.m. Why not pair that colorful sky with colorful Ocean Lake and the birds who call it home near the town of Pavillion?
- Walk like a mountain man. The 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous site in Riverton was once where legendary mountain men converged after a long year of surviving and trapping in the mountains to trade for supplies and socialize. Camp and stand in the footprints of the likes of Kit Carson and Jim Bridger while this historical eclipse moment transpires over your head, then, of course, try your hand at throwing a tomahawk.
- Bring back the sun. The Northern Arapaho tribe and Wind River Hotel & Casino will host an eclipse celebration that includes a tribal reenactment to “bring back the sun.” The event will include singing, dances, and firing arrows at the moon to encourage it to move on.
- Geronimo in the dark. In 1979, Bart Vroman painted a giant portrait of Geronimo on the side of what was then the town of Shoshoni’s Gambles Store on Main Street. The fading Apache chief’s face still stares out from the abandoned street, and this will be the first total solar eclipse he witnesses. Join Geronimo in a town that shares a name with the Native American tribe that lives nearby for an artistic perspective on a tiny Wyoming town eclipsed by flocks of excited astronomers.
*Crowheart Butte is on the Wind River Indian Reservation and closed to the public. Please do not trespass on this land.