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Riverton - Wyoming

Weather Balloon Station

NWS Weather Balloon Station, Riverton - Wickipedia Commons

The valley of the Big Wind River is a fabled pioneer territory, with more history that one can absorb in a short visit. What was once part of the enormous Wind River Indian Reservation is now the town of Riverton. It lies in the center of a half-million acres which were withdrawn from the reservation for homesteading. The town was founded in 1906.

The Wind River Reservation is an important player in Wyoming's economy. It's home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes. Two million acres of land are Indian-owned.

The Shoshone live in the northern, western and southcentral portions of the reservation while the Arapahoe occupy the southeast segment. Annual pow wows are held at Fort Washakie, Crowheart, Ethete and Arapahoe. The grave of famed Chief Washakie is found at Ft. Washakie. He died in 1900 at the age of 102. Riverton is a modern agricultural community with accommodations for travelers including motels and RV parks.

What to See & Do

Riverton makes an ideal base for exploring the historic topwns and natural attractions of the area, including Lander, South Pass City and the ghost town of Atlantic City.

Lander is nestled beside the Wind River Ranmge foothills, on the banks of the Popo Agie River. It was a frontier military outpost and was the first permanent settlement in the region. People come from far and wide to explore the natural wonders of Sinks Canyon State Park, where the river cascades down a dramatic waterfall, and then disappears into a cave in the side of a mountain, and comess back to the surface a quarter-mile down the canyon. The park offers spectacular rock climbing possibilities, and is the scene of the annual International Climbers Festival, held each July.

Other activities available include wildflower viewing in the soporing, exploring the geology of Ree Canyonb, touring thev Wind RIver Reservation, and cross-country skiing in the wilderness or on groomed trails.

South Pass City, located southeast of Riverton on Highway 28, is one of the West's most important historic sites. The town was built in 1867 when gold fever struck the region. The outstanding find at the Carissa Mine brought hundreds of prospectors and within a year, the town's population boomed to 2,000. South Pass Avenue was half a mile long, filled with stores, hotels, saloons, banks, and other attractions for miners. More than 30 gold mines were opened. The nation's first female judge, Esther Morris, was appoionmted by the town, the vanguard of Wyoming's women's suffrage movement. The town boomed but the bust came in 1872 leaving the region to ranchers. South Pass City is now a remarkable historic site, with 24 old buildings, picnic sites and a visitor center. The center has demonstrations, lectures and audio-visual shows during the summer months. The celebration on July 4th draws people from every part of the state -- and beyond.

To get to South Pass City, drive southwest from Riverton on Highway 789 to Lander and then take Highway 28 south to a sideroad which leads through Atlantic City (a semi-ghost town) to the historic site. Atlantic City was a gold mining camp and now mostly ghost town although a few rustic homes are occupied. The businesses which are open in the original buildings cater to travelers. There are still a few operating gold mines in the area. South Pass City is 35 miles southwest of Lander and 59 miles from Riverton. Sink's Canyon State Park is six miles southwest of Lander, providing a handy picnicking stop or a campsite when visiting nearby South Pass City.

Where to Eat

Lander has the best eating places in the area and makes a good stop while visiting South Pass City. Try Cowfish (steaks, fresh seafood, pasta dishes) at 148 Main, or Middle Fork a quaint, small breakfast and brunch place at at 351 Main Street.

Camping

Wind River Good Sam RV Park
1618 E. Park Ave, Riverton, 307-857-3000
The RV park has 60 sites, all for RVs, no tenting. Some pets restricted for breed and size.

Boysen State Park Campgrounds
There are five campgrounds in this large public park, set on the shores of the Boysen Lake reservoir. For information, call 307-876-2796. Lower Wind River Campground (50 sites, 10 reservable) is found below the lake's dam near the tunnels. The Upper Wind River facility has (50 sites, 10 reservable) is just below the dam beside the river. Brannon and Tamarask are at the north end of the lake. Tough Creek Campground is located on a peninsula with about 65 sites and a boat launch.

Additional camping is available at Loop 1 and Loop 2. both on the west side of the reservoir. Loop 1 has 20 sites; Loop 2 has 30 sites.

Owl Creek Kampground
11124 US Hwy 26E-789, 5 miles northeast of Riverton
307-856-2869
This campground was completely renovated several years ago —it's been here for more than 50 years—and as a result the area is beautifully shaded with very mature trees. The RV sites have full hookups, and the tenting sites are grassy. Amenities include showers, rest rooms, laundry, free WiFi, playground with horseshoes, a game room and camp store.
Dog friendly.

For more information on services in the Wind River area,
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