There’s something magical about backpacking. Perhaps it’s knowing that you’re miles away from civilization and solely depending upon whatever it is you can carry on your back.
Or, maybe it’s just being able to access wilderness areas that are only accessible by foot. No matter what inspires you to hit the backcountry trails, Wyoming offers some of the best backpacking destinations in the United States.
Here are some of Wyoming’s top backpacking routes.
Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Mountain Range
If you’re looking for an adventurous weekend the Cirque of the Towers near Pinedale is a favorite for both backpackers and climbers, who set up a basecamp and spend time climbing the Cirque’s granite towers.
You can start your trip from the Big Sandy trailhead, where you’ll follow the trail approximately 6 miles to get to Big Sandy Lake. From there you’ll begin your ascent through Jackson Pass into the Cirque de Towers. Most people camp in the Cirque the first night and then traverse through Texas Pass to Shadow Lake the second day. The final day will loop you back to the trailhead.
While this is a fantastic route, navigation can get tricky through Texas Pass, so a good topographic map and backcountry navigation skills are important. This is also a very popular trail and can get busy on weekends. But the wildflowers, crystal-clear high mountain lakes and scenery make the trek worthwhile.
Teton Crest Trail
Views from the Teton Crest Trail are simply unforgettable.
There are several route options for the trail, and most hikers complete it in 3-4 days, making it a perfect option for a long weekend.
A great place to start this trip is from the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, accessing the trail via aerial tram. From there, simply follow the trail until you get to the intersection of the official Teton Crest Trail. Continue on the trail hiking past Marion Lake in Grand Teton National Park, into Death Canyon, through the Alaska Basin and up through Hurricane Pass. There are designated campsites at the South Fork of Cascade Canyon making it a good stop for the night before you travel on to Lake Solitude, through Paintbrush Divide and down Paintbrush Canyon, completing the trek at Leigh Lake or String Lake.
This trail crosses through some of the most beautiful places in the state, including the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area, Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests and Grand Teton National Park.
While the views are stunning it does take some preparation to plan the perfect route, secure permits to camp in the park and to arrange a shuttle since it isn’t a loop hike.
You’ll see everything on this trail from pristine alpine lakes, endless wildflower meadows, granite peaks and canyons cut through the granite by glaciers. Wildlife is abundant and you’ll be in grizzly bear country making safe food storage crucial.
Continental Divide Trail
For the most adventurous, the Wyoming section of the Continental Divide Trail will take backpackers through the most diverse terrain that Wyoming has to offer.
It doesn’t matter if you complete the trail from north to south or south to north, the 550 miles of the Wyoming section of the trail won’t disappoint.
This section of the CDT will take you through the scenic Sierra Madre Mountains in the south up through the Great Divide Basin and into the Wind River Range, Teton and Absaroka Mountain Ranges and Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re looking for a short overnight trip, Battle Pass to the Deep Jack trailhead in the Sierra Madre offers spectacular views from Bridger Peak, the highest point in the Sierra Madre.
Whether you’re looking to get away from it all for a weekend or looking to challenge yourself with a longer thru-hike, Wyoming’s scenic trails offer something for everyone.