Lander Trails - TravelStorys

Lander Trails

Sponsored by Bureau of Land Management

  • Location: Wyoming
  • Travel Type: Driving
  • Trip Time: 2 hours
  • Language:

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Tour Introduction

Butch Cassidy

Devil's Gate

The Bureau of Land Management Bureau of Land Management presents this driving tour through Wyoming's public lands around Lander, Wyoming. Along the drive, you will hear stories about this vast landscape today, hundreds of years ago, and even millions of years ago through its geological record.

Most of the open space along this route is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management for the American people. The BLM protects the historic settings of this emigration through what are known as the California, Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails.

The route goes by Independence Rock, perhaps the best-known landmark on the entire Euro-American crossing of the continent in the mid-1800. You will hear accounts of this irregular rock formation from pioneers, civil war soldiers, and travelers like yourself. Thousands of their names are carved into the rock, making it a memorial to the largest mass movement of people in American history.

Some of these emigres never made it to the Pacific coast and instead stayed in Wyoming. You will hear about the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Desert Land Act of 1877, which allowed adult citizens to claim government land at little or no cost. Meanwhile, the Shoshone Indians had given up ownership of the Sweetwater Valley in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger.

This route is a portion of the Sand Creek Massacre Trail—a 600-mile trail from the Wind River Indian Reservation to the 1864 massacre site in southeastern Colorado Territory. The path is a state-designated memorial to the Arapaho and Cheyenne people.

Two notorious travelers to learn about on this route are George Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh. You might know them by their more famous name: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Keep your eyes alert for wild horses as you will pass through the BLM wild-horse herd management area—a program you will learn more about. The BLM manages the populations to maintain the horses' genetic diversity and their overall health. The BLM is working with partners to study and develop better ways to control wild horse populations on the range.

Another animal species you may come across, also managed by the BLM, is the sage grouse. At one time, sage grouse were candidates for the threatened and endangered species, but recent sage grouse conservation efforts involving ranchers, environmentalists, the Wyoming Game and Fish, and the BLM have avoided the need for further protection.

The Lander Trails tour will notify you at multiple junctions to add a loop or spur to see and learn more about the region. For example, the adventurous traveler can take the Green Mountain Loop Road through high-elevation conifer forests with views of distant sagebrush steppe, sand dunes, and wild horses.

There is an adventure from everyone in Lander. The town has several museums, attractive motels and restaurants, and free camping on the river at City Park. It is internationally known as a climbing mecca. More recently, it has become popular for mountain biking opportunities, such as the Johnny Behind the Rocks Trail System, east of Lander on Highway 287.

Six miles south of Lander is Sinks Canyon State Park Sinks Canyon State Park is famous for visitors and residents alike. The park contains the Sinks, where the Popo Agie rushes into a small cavern and disappears underground.

Less populated towns, but with no fewer stories to tell, on this tour are the ghost town of South Pass City (now a state historic site), Atlantic City, and Jeffery City. They are part of the South Pass-Atlantic City Mining District, best known for the gold mining in the late 1860s--and sporadically in the century and a half since.

The geology along the Lander Trails has produced gold, uranium, and Wyoming's first commercial oil well. It has also created some of the most spectacular scenic overlooks in Wyoming, such as Red Canyon and the many views of the Wind River Mountain Range.

Enjoy this trail through Western Wyoming's public lands. BLM's protections will help ensure that the Lander Trails' open vistas remain intact for you and many travelers to come.

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Tour Excerpts

Tour Introduction

Butch Cassidy

Devil's Gate