Published Aug. 14, 2011, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle: “Try the Wind River Canyon, by road or river.”
By Barb Gorges
It’s disorienting to have to have a river flow north, which the Wind River does. And after it goes through the Wind River Canyon it becomes the Big Horn River, which flows through Thermopolis and eventually flows into the Yellowstone River in Montana. What’s even more disconcerting is that as you drive up the river, you could swear you were dropping in elevation.
The canyon cuts through the Owl Creek Mountains, through10 different geologic formations. Look for the names on signs as the rock walls change color. The canyon stretches 15 miles long and 2,400 feet deep.
The safest way to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way is to drive south from Thermopolis. That way all the pullouts along the river will be on your right side and you won’t have to cut across oncoming traffic to access them.
The more exciting way to enjoy the canyon would be to make a reservation for a raft trip.
At the south end of the canyon, both the highway and the railroad tracks on the other side of the river go through several short tunnels.
If you go:
Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway
Directions: The 15 miles of U.S. Hwy. 20 south of Thermopolis. Distance ftrom Cheyenne: about 200 miles.
Open: Year round except when weather causes highway closures.
Admission: None. The highway is maintained by the Wyoming Department of Transportation and is within the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Attractions: Geologic formations and tunnels. Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Fly Fishing is the exclusive outfitter, http://www.windrivercanyon.com/.
Time: 20 minutes if no stops are made.