- Located in western Wyoming, between Lander and Pinedale.
- Stretches over 100 miles, north to south, and covers 2.25 million acres.
- 13,804-foot tall Gannet Peak is the highest point.
- Home to the famous climbing spot Cirque of the Tower.
- Wyoming’s premier backpacking location.
The Wind River Range, or the Winds, may not be as well known as the Tetons or the Colorado Rockies, but this Central Rocky Mountain chain in western Wyoming is well-worth visiting. With the largest glacier system in the American Rockies (at least 183 named and unnamed glaciers), over 40 13,000 foot peaks, three wilderness areas and two National Forests within the 2.25 million acres of the 100-mile long mountain range, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had.
What can I see and do in the Wind Rivers?
Hiking and Backpacking
Considered Wyoming’s premier backpacking area, the Wind River Range offers more than 600 miles of maintained trails and millions of acres far from any signs of civilization. Hundreds of small lakes, countless peaks, acres of forest and even more acres of above-timberline alpine terrain make the Winds a backpacking dream come true. Starting at Elkhart Park Trailhead near Pinedale, popular hiking trails lead to Photographer's Point (4.5 miles) or Seneca Lake (8.5 miles) and beyond.
While the Wind River Range may be Wyoming’s go-to area for backpacking, every year the numerous cirques – formed over thousands of years of glacial activity – and technical ascents draw in climbers of all abilities and backgrounds who want to escape to their own wilderness nirvana. The Cirque of the Towers, in particular, is a famous climbing area in the Winds that has seen increased visitation in recent years.
The tallest point in Wyoming and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 13,804-foot tall Gannet Peak is located in the northern section of the Wind River Range. Its remoteness, the surrounding large glaciers and technical difficulty make it a trip for strong and experienced mountaineers only.
Cirque of the Towers
Unlike Gannet Peak, Cirque of the Towers is an area that is enjoyed by climbers and backpackers of differing abilities. Just 10 miles into the southern section of the Winds, this huge cirque is surrounded by rugged granite peaks and towers, offering a lifetime of climbing routes at every level of difficulty. Cirque of the Towers is also very popular with backpackers, as the natural beauty of the area of the area is unsurpassed.
Where are the Wind River Mountains?
Pinedale, on the western side of the range, and Lander, on the eastern, serve as popular starting points for trips into the Winds. Since there aren’t any roads that cross the Wind River Range, excursions into the heart of the Winds are true wilderness experiences.
When can I visit the Wind River Range?
While the Wind River Range can be and is explored year-round, most visitors come during the summer months from mid-July to mid-September when the high alpine areas have melted out enough that they are open to hikers and climbers. Abundant backcountry skiing and winter camping is available during the winter months, as well. As with any mountain range, visitors should be aware that snow and cold weather can and does occur in the Winds at any point of the year.