Sunday, September 8, 2019

Lander, Wyoming

Sleeping Bear RV Park
Lander, WY
July 30-Aug 5, 2019

Lander, WY was the last stop for our summer vacation.  

Getting to Lander from Island Park had us back-tracking as we headed south on Hwy 32 through Idaho.

It was a gorgeous drive...
Those beautiful Tetons.

 over Teton Pass between Victor, ID and Wilson, WY...
We were above the clouds! 

with a quick peek at The Tetons...
Teton NP is the only NP with an airport.

before heading southeast through the Shoshone NF on Hwy 26 (a section of the Oregon Trail Historic Byway) from Moran to Lander.

Our home base for the week was Sleeping Bear RV Park.

We first heard about Lander in 2016 from MonaLisa and Steve's blog.  We love small towns, had a week to spend somewhere before Joe's MOHs surgery (in Salt Lake City on Aug 7) so why not go to Lander.   

Lander was established in 1884.  This small town is located in central Wyoming along the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River.  It is named after Gen. Frederick Lander who explored the Oregon Trail's Lander cutoff.  Lander also claims to have held the first paid rodeo in annual tradition they still celebrate.
Wyoming history of the bucking bronco dates back as early as 1918.   It is popularly known as the "Cowboy State".

1. Popo Agie Falls (July 31)
Our first hike in Lander had us following the Popo Agie River in the Shoshone National Forest.  It's an in-out, 3.5 mile (RT) hike through some gorgeous vistas.

The first part of the trail is lined with huge boulders on the right...

 and the Popo Agie River on the left.

As we followed the trail (with a steady elevation gain) we could see a huge cascade that plummets into the river.  But, this is not the end !

The falls is not one big fall, but is a combination of cascades ending with a swimming hole. 

It is quite "the thing" for the adventurous,to slide down the rock into the very cold swimming hole. 
2. Sinks Canyon State Park
(Aug. 2)
is situated in the Wind River Mountains on the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie river.  

The park is named after a distinct geological phenomena in which the Popo Agie River disappears into a limestone cavern...
The Sinks

...and reappears a 1/4 mile down canyon in a pool filled with rainbow trout.

The Rise
3. Sinks Canyon Trail 
(Aug 2) is a 3.3 mile loop, but we included the Popo Agie Nature Trail for a total of 5 miles RT.  It's a nice hike along the river, through aspen groves, and canyon meadows.  Walking through the meadow was especially rewarding.


Lazuli Bunting

Western Tanager

A hungry Robin
4. Louis Lake Road (Aug 3) begins where Sinks Canyon Rd. ends.  The locals refer to this 70 mile scenic drive to some of their favorite fishing spots as Loop Rd.  

Our first stop was Frye Lake.  This popular camping and fishing lake is also a storage reservoir for irrigation water.

Shortly after Frye Lake, the pavement changes to a gravelly/washboard road.  The forest is denser, except in places where logging has been allowed.  It wasn't very spectacular, but we wanted to reach Fiddlers Lake which is at the highest elevation (9411'). 

Fiddler's Lake

There is one in every crowd...reminds me of my Kindergarten days!

 At this point, we turned around.  But there is more on Loop Rd. to see. If we return to Lander, we hope to enjoy a hike and finish the loop. 

5. Bus Loop (Aug 4) is a hike we read about in Pam and John's blog from their visit to Lander this past June.  The trail is named for a small, rusty bus that is laid to rest there.

The area is primarily used for hiking and biking and the trials are not marked.  You can hike as long and as far as you want to.  There is no shade on this trail as it meanders  through pasture land...  

and over slick rock.  I love slick rock !

One last look back at the slick rock reef as we continued up the hill.

Thanks Pam and John for including the Bus Loop in you blog and especially for the great directions !

6. South Pass City (Aug 5), a former stop on the Oregon Trail and a booming gold mining town, is now Wyoming's largest historic site and a State Park.  

This impressive state park has 24 historic structures, more than 30 "period" room exhibits, a visitor center, picnic areas, and nature trails.

Our first stop was the Dance Hall/Theater/ Community Center/ and Sunday school building.  We watched a short video and were given a walking guide pamphlet.   

Beginning in the 1860s,  Pony Express stations and trails created by emigrants heading west were established.  South Pass City was born after gold was discovered there in 1867. While some came for the gold, others settled in the area to farm on public lands open to homesteading, and others saw opportunity as merchants and professionals and so a town boomed.  

The blacksmith shop had remains of tools, billows and old wagon wheels.

Up the hill from the structures is a cemetary.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but there were only three graves and they were all children.

Also, South Pass City was home to Esther Morris, the first woman to serve in a judicial office in the U.S..  She was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1870 and served as judge.

This is the last post from our summer adventure.  Exploring new places, awesome weather, great hikes, and gorgeous landscapes made for a very nice get away.  

Until next time...


P.S. Kudos to Wyoming...We loved their signs !


  1. Love your photos Gay and Joe--Lander is a gorgeous area and sits at an elevation which makes summer very nice.

  2. Such a gorgeous area! Frye Lake is so serene. Love the Pass City sign :-) We really want to get back to Wyoming, the wide open spaces and historic little towns are wonderful.

  3. So glad you had lots of time in Lander. We were surprised by how much there was to. We tried South Pass City but didn't get out of the car because we forgot our wadders!! The town was literally a giant pond after all our rain. We didn't get to drive the road to lakes either...darn!! Gates were still down because of deep drifts. Looks like you hit at the proper times. Glad we could help with ideas. Lovely photos!