Home Forums Campfire Forum Backcountry in the Bighorns/Wind Rivers

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    • jpcarlson
      Member
      Post count: 218

      To all ye mountain men out there,

      Since I can’t just meet up with you at the summer rendesvous of old and spin some yarns I figure I will ask the modern way. I am trying to do some research on finding a really nice area to go backpacking/flyfishing/scout for future trad hunts out in Wyoming in the middle of this summer. I am having a hard time finding good info on the Bighorn mountains. There is a lot about the Wind River range, but I am looking to the pool of great knowledge here to see if anyone has any pointers on where to look or where to go. I figure I can do some scouting and get to know some areas at the same time my wife and I do a backcountry backpacking/fishing trip. The problem is figuring out where to go in those ranges that aren’t over run with traffic or too many visitors. Any ideas of areas/loops/drainages which hold nice lakes full of hungry trout in areas where I can see good elk sign?

      I have wondered about the Medicinebow range further south also. Any advice or shared info would be greatly appreciated! Where does a guy find the info on line?

      Thanks in advance,

      Jans

    • Vance Brewer
      Post count: 23

      You might do some lookin at the Wyoming Range. South and a tad East of the “Jaskson Hole” area a bit quieter. Very well suited for your needs (wants). Wyoming Range is a bit easier on shoe leather than the Winds….My Opinion mind ya. Good population of wildlife and fin….vb

    • SDMFer
      Post count: 54

      I don’t have much info on the Bighorns. However, I can tell you if you are looking for an area free of traffic ignore the Med Bow. Pretty much over run with people year round (too close to the Colorado front range). So I prefer the Winds, farther to drive but worth it. That and the opportunity to run in to Griz creates an extra incentive to leave the Snowies in the rear view and head toward Dubois.

    • jpcarlson
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 218

      SDMFer,

      It sure is hard to find good info on the Bighorns, Grrr! I keep looking at them because they don’t seem to get the travel or the publicity that other ranges get, and the fact that I am only 3 hours away from Bufallo helps:) I hear there are lakes with good flyfishing and good populations of elk and mule deer. Any ideas on where to look around Dubois? I know there is nice country on the east side of the Winds and have read there is good access by crossing the reservation. Have you been into the Absaroka’s?

      all info appreciated!

      J

    • SDMFer
      Post count: 54

      I haven’t spent any time in the Absarokas so I can’t help there.

      As far as a specific area around Dubois, thats tough, just because theres so much country that I haven’t see up there. But a good place to start is wilderness.net and look up the Fitzpatric Wilderness. Plus their map server is pretty useful outside of designated wilderness area.

      There might be some information on the Cloud Peak wilderness on there too.

      It gets trick since your a non-resident. You can go in the wilderness areas and fish but come hunting season your suposed to have a guide. Strange rule that I won’t complain about until I move out of WY.

    • jpcarlson
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 218

      I’ll check the website out, thanks for the info and the heads up about residency!

      Many thanks,

      J

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Jans –

      When are you thinking of going? It’s true that the Winds can get pretty busy in the summer, but the backcountry fishing can be a whole lot of fun, and like most places, if you’re willing to break away from the trail, you can definitely find some remote areas.

    • tailfeather
      Post count: 417

      I’ve done a number of backpacking/fishing trips up into the Winds from the Pinedale side. Have rarely seen other people and have had some great fishing. No big fish, but lots of them……and phenomenal scenery.

      I had several field sites in the Bighorns. The Tongue River can produce some fish, and there are some lakes that hold lots of fish. Lot of critters in the Bighorns…..I looked into some areas where non-res could hunt more easily but I don’t remember what units they were. I’ve always wanted to bowhunt elk in the Bighorns.

      Let me look at some maps of some of those lakes, etc. and I can let you know.

    • WyoStillhunter
      Post count: 87

      As stated above: SE Wyoming including Medicine Bow NF, Snowy Range and the Sierra Madre are pretty well slammed with weekenders, tourists, and locals as they are relatively close to some larger towns in Wyoming and to Colorado.

      To get info on the Big Horns check websites out of Buffalo and Sheridan. A contact to the Sports Lure in Buffalo is a good idea. Also, Wyoming Tourism and Wyoming Game and Fish Depts. will respond. And don’t forget about motels and cabins. If you inquire about vacancy dates and rates you might also get some basic info on hunting and fishing.

      The office staff at Wyo. Game & Fish Regional Offices are very helpful folks. There is an office in Sheridan.

    • jpcarlson
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 218

      Smithhammer, Tailfeather, and Stillhunter,

      Thanks for all the info and ideas. We are thinking of going the last week in July. I’m looking at some things in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness area of the Winds on the NE side. Seems nice and remote with good fishing. Any ideas, experience from anyone there?

      As for the Bighorns, I would love ideas and to hear of any experience there. They are really close to us and I have always been curious about them. They don’t seem to get the traffic other places get and I hear there are good populations of elk and lots of fat trout eager to take a dry!

      Thanks, can’t wait to hear more

      J

    • amishcm
      Post count: 2

      We did annual weeklong backpacks about 15 times into the Bighorns. Tried just about every trailhead. Never had trouble finding fish, both large small and varied. Great place. Still overlooked. Never had many people around in the high country, only occasionally had groups pass by. While not looking for them we often saw elk and elk sign, twice having them wander around outside our tents at night. Usually went in Mid September just before the hunting season and campers (I expect hunters) were to be found down lower in the driveable areas, but up near and above treeline, there were elk, fish and few people. Would have to pull the maps to give you routes and specific lakes as they just blur into great memories. Hard to write this as the details flood back. Wish it was closer to home.

    • jpcarlson
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 218

      Would love to hear more about your trips in the Bighorns! Timberline, elk, and trout! Does it get any better?:) We are looking at going around the last week in July to check it out. Have about 5 days for the trip. Any advice on where to start and what lakes to look at for such a trip? One that will take us through scenic country and lots of lakes with fish and elk sign?:)

      Jans

    • amishcm
      Post count: 2

      Love the Bighorns and the Cloud Peak Wilderness. Hope this is not too much on a non “bowhunting: topic, but you asked…

      When we backpacked, or had our gear horsepacked,

      We usually spent a night on each end at the SouthFork Inn, Buffalo, Wy address,

      on the east side of the Cloud Peak wilderness area to adjust a bit to the altitude. We also day hiked from that Inn a couple of years. You can fish right from your cabin porch but a short hike will get to much better.

      We packed into the Misty Moon Area/Florence pass area for a base camp many times. Entered from Hunter Corals near the South Fork or West Tensleep CG on the west (much shorter to Misty Moon Side of Florence Pass).

      Misty Moon is above treeline, not a hard hike from the West Tensleep CG but kind of a long walk in, so the traffic was sparse.

      Usually only saw a small group or two of people in a week out but most of the time had the area to ourself.

      Fishing was much better here up high. Some of our guys went to hike and eat granola, I always had my fly rod strapped to my hiking stick. Made them stop at every waterway we passed.

      Could find fish about everywhere, mostly average moutain size, but a few noteable exceptions.

      Around Florence Pass

      Probably my most memorable location is Powell Lakes on the east of Florence Pass. A bit far for a day hike in and out, it is about a mile uptrail from Medicine Cabin park towards Florence Pass then find a small little used trail to the right. Straight up the tight draiange to the top. A very small sign on the trail if I remember. Probably need your topo to find the area where the trail starts off.

      Most beautiful little lakes ringed in an amazing circ by sheer 500 ft walls on all 3 sides.

      Plus big cutthroats rising from the crystal depth for the flies. Powell Lakes probably doesn’t see 10 people a year up there.

      This would be a very long day in and out much better overnight or longer. Medicine Cabin Park was is about 6-7 hours uphill (4 hard hours for a flatlander with a 5 day pack) from the Hunter Creek trail head. Did do a round trip down and back up on day two one year as we forgot the canned bacon back at the car and went back down to retrieve it. That was a long day, but cant go without basic luxury. Elk and moose not uncommon all along the way up to

      tree line in this drainage. Probably why they call it Hunter Creek Access.

      From the Misty Moon area on the west of Florence Pass there was a small unnamed lake southwest of Gunboat Lake and SE of Misty Moon that had very big rainbows if I remember the species right. But the size I do remember. 4-5 lbs ?? To get to this small lake from Gunboat leave the main trail from the bottom end of Gunboat on a small undefined trail and bear SW below the ridge on your right, over the saddle and drop into the lake. Out the bottom of this lake and you’ll drop in over Lake Marion below Misty Moon Lake.

      All these upper lakes had smaller cutthroats and brooks.

      Gunboat had grayling, smallish but good for my bucketlist.

      West from Misty moon we climbed a drainage to Middle Cloud Peak Lake for golden trout. Smaller but again, bucketlist and a reason to hike. Start at the waterfall on the trail and scramble up the creek to the lake. We enjoyed bushwacking with topos.

      We did the 5 day Solitude Loop hike one year and woke up inside a herd of elk in Highland Park above Kearney Lake.

      Seems like we saw elk regularly and lots of sign all over the high country on our summer trips.

      When we went in early September we saw lots of elk in the parks down lower.

      Sorry this response took so long to get back… Now I want to go again, Found this other site when wool gathering that hit the target.

      http://www.backpacker.com/may_1999_destinations_wyoming_bighorns/destinations/559

      George

    • jpcarlson
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 218

      Thanks George, awesome advice. I have to dig the map out and look at the lakes you mentioned and plan a trip:) I’ll ask more later after doing some homework.

      Jans

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