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Exploring The Wind River Mountains
Too Busy to See.
Sometimes life can get so busy that you overlook what is right in front of your eyes. For myself I find that I often take for granted the awesome beauty that is all around me. Wyoming is full of natural wonders and yet I just don't take the time to explore them the way I should. I see the mountains before me, but don't take the time to really look at them. I have just recently began rediscovering this incredible place that I call home. Literally right out my front door I can see part of the Wind River Mountain Range and I think it is time to really see them up close and personal. Because this incredible mountain range is spectacular from every angle, whether you are hoping to scale Gannet Peak, or just spend a little time in meadow full of wild flowers.
An Overview of "The Winds"
Part of the expansive Rocky Mountain Range, the Wind River Range runs through western Wyoming for approximately 90 miles. On the east side of the range is the Shoshone National Forest and on the west side is the Bridger-Teton National Forest. There are over 1300 named lakes and the single largest glacier in the Rockies in this amazing range of mountains. I think it is a common assumption that the more famous Teton Mountains have the highest peaks in the state, but that is not true. The Wind River Range actually boasts the highest peak in Wyoming. Gannet Peak rises up to an impressive elevation of 13804', the Wind River Range actually has over 40 peaks topping over 13000'.
The Shoshone National Forest
While I am not that close to those breathtaking peaks, I am still less 15 minutes away from some pretty incredible mountain views. Plus one entrance to the Shoshone National Forest is only about 40 minutes away, just outside of Lander and right above the Sinks Canyon Campgrounds (the Sinks are a whole other article coming soon)! This area is especially close to my heart because it the closest to my home and the one that I have spent the most time exploring as an adult.
The Shoshone National Forest has an interesting history and you can feel some of this rich history as you are exploring this expanse of wilderness. The Shoshone National Forest was named for the Shoshoni Indians that once, among other tribes, lived and hunted in this area. The first nationally protected forest that was set aside by Congress in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve the forest encompasses 2.5 million acres of land.
Not only home to part of the Wind River Range there are other mountains in this expanse of wilderness, including the Absaroka and Beartooth mountains.
Flora and Fauna
Wyoming is often synonymous with wildlife and the Wind River Range is no exception. There are bears, both black and grizzly roaming the mountains and while the bears are the biggest predators on these mountains, we also have wolves and mountain lions. I am not a bear expert, but would encourage visitors to do their homework on traveling in bear country. Of course there is an abundance of other wildlife in these mountains, we also have moose, deer, elk, and bighorn sheep just to name a few.
Sometimes spotting wildlife in the mountains can prove elusive, I know as I have missed my share of great pictures, by not having my camera ready at just the right time. However the scenery has never let me down. There is a variety of trees, plants and my personal favorite, wildflowers just waiting to be "captured" on film
Something For Everyone
The Wind River Mountains and Shoshone National Forest can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to be wowed by Mother Nature. For those who really want to dig in and explore it is possible to climb Gannett Peak. But you don't have to be an expert mountain climber to enjoy the Wind River Mountain Range. There are an innumerable number of different types of campgrounds all around these mountains that offer a little more comfort for the traveler. A quick Internet search will get you started and I will be posting more tips as I continue to explore the beauty in my own back yard.