March 10, 2022
Yellowstone National Park is a bucket-list destination you can’t miss, especially as this year is it’s 150th anniversary. When you’ve had enough of the crowds and need Room to Roam, it’s time to Go Beyond Yellowstone to Wyoming’s Wind River Country.
Take highway 287 to highway 28 for an authentic, scenic route home.
Togwotee Pass, Wyoming’s Centennial Scenic Byway
From the southeast entrance of Yellowstone is a stretch of absolutely stunning miles until you reach Wind River Country. The uncrowded drive over Togwotee Pass is nonstop mountain vistas, wildlife viewing opportunities, and day-hike trailheads. Cross the Continental Divide on Wyoming’s Centennial Scenic Byway on your way to Dubois, your first stop in Wind River Country.
National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, Dubois
Whiskey Mountain outside of Dubois is home to the largest wintering herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in the lower 48. This center is dedicated to these remarkable creatures and their local habitat. If you visit in the fall (also a great idea for a less crowded Yellowstone experience), staff will take you on a wildlife tours to spot the herd in person.
Torrey Creek Falls, Dubois
Spend some time getting to know the tight community of Dubois before continuing southeast on Hwy. 287.
Approximately four miles east of Dubois, take a drive on National Forest Road 411 past Torrey, Ring and Trail Lakes. All the lakes have fishing, camping and picnicking, and you’ll get the chance to check out ancient Native American petroglyphs and maybe a herd of bighorn sheep on the way. From the Trail Lake Trailhead, you can hike to the waterfall of Torrey Creek.
Crowheart Butte Scenic Overlook, Crowheart
Many variations of the story have been told over the generations, but it is generally agreed that a battle between the Shoshone tribe under Chief Washakie and the Crow tribe took place at this landmark in 1866. The tribes fought a long battle until the chiefs agreed to a duel to determine the outcome. The victory went to the Shoshone and affirmed their hunting grounds. Crowheart Butte was so named in memory of that event.
From Crowheart, you’ll stay on highway 287 to Lander. Be sure to stop in Fort Washakie to check out local art. You can also take a detour to learn about Sacajawea and see her final resting place.
Sinks Canyon State Park, Lander
Learn about Sinks Canyon at the visitors center, then go explore this geological wonder on your own. Take a self-guided walk to check out the cave into which the Popo Agie River disappears and the pool in which it reemerges a quarter mile down the stunning canyon. Bring quarters so you can buy some food to feed the enormous trout in the Rise pool. Stick around and learn about the other things you can do in Sinks Canyon State Park.
Explore the unique town of Lander a bit before continuing on Highway 287/28 south. You can learn the history of Lander at the Fremont County Pioneer Museum and the Museum of the American West. Stroll historic Main Street and enjoy numerous art galleries, unique shops and a variety of restaurants offering local beef, micro brews and more. Or stop in at one of the local stores and pick up equipment for fishing, rock climbing or hiking.
South Pass City State Historic Site
South Pass City, now a State Historic Site, was home to the an early gold rush. This city has 40 preserved original structures from those days. America’s first female to hold judicial office served here: Justice of the Peace Esther Hobart Morris. The Wyoming Territorial Representative who drafted the bill giving women in the Wyoming Territory the right to vote resided in South Pass City, as well.
After your final stop in Wyoming’s Wind River Country, enjoy all that Wyoming has to offer on the rest of your drive home.Posted in Notes From the Field