Lander & Riverton, Wyoming
Page Summary: Discover the communities of Lander & Riverton, Wyoming and traveling to these destinations.
Page Index:Lander & Riverton, WY
Travel backwards through history as you head east to the towns of Lander and Riverton. Turn left (north) onto County Road #353 at Boulder which is 11 miles southeast of Pinedale on Hwy 191. This road will turn to gravel after about 15 miles and then join the Lander Cutoff/Emigrant Trail at Buckskin Crossing where the early travelers forded the Big Sandy River. Markers show the route of the wagons all through this section. One side trip is up to the Big Sandyng Trailhead (FR #850). Mountain climbers heading up to the Cirque of the Towers and other peaks in the southern Wind River Range use this as their starting point. The historic guest ranch/lodge here was once home to Finis Mitchell, a local legend and author of “Wind River Trails”, the little green guide to fishing and hiking in the range.
Continue on the Emigrant Trail (BLM #446) to join up with Hwy 28. Turn left (NE) and travel a few miles to the right-hand turnoff to South Pass City and Atlantic City. These living ghost towns combine the early emigrant history with a slightly more recent gold mining boom heritage. South Pass City is a State Historic Site with an interpretive center highlighting its gold rush days of the late 1800’s and a self guided tour of over 20 original structures. Willie’s Handcart Historic Marker is just 13 miles SW on the Lewiston Road. The Willie’s Handcart Company lost 67 of their 404 member party while trapped by a winter storm in October 1856. Over 350,000 emigrants traveled through this area between 1841 and 1866, along the Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express Trails.
Heading on into Lander on Hwy 28, you’ll view the spectacular geology of Red Canyon, a designated National Natural Landmark. Sinks Canyon State Park is known for its world-class rock climbing, and for the Popo Agie River (pronounced “Po-Po-zsha) which disappears into a cavern and then reappears ¼ mile downstream. Or take the gravel road to “Louis Lake” which turns north at the parking lot at the top of the pass and brings you through Sinks Canyon, turning into Hwy 131 on the way into Lander. The Lander Chamber website is at http://www.landerchamber.org/, and tourism info for the county at http://www.windrivercountry.com/.
The Wind River Indian Reservation, with its center in Riverton, is home to over 8,000 members of the Shoshone and Arapahoe tribes and is home to the Wind River Heritage Center. Additional museums and heritage centers are located in nearby St. Stephens Mission and St. Michael’s Mission. The “1838 Rendezvous” reenactment is held each year during the third week of June on the original site of that historic meeting. Check out their Chamber website at http://www.rivertonchamber.org/.