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A Few Fun Facts About Wind River Range

Jun 07, 2017 07:48PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

We recently featured the beauty of Wyoming's Wind River Range in our Summer 2017 issue and wanted you to know just a little bit more about it. Learn a little bit more about Wind River Range with a few fun facts in our online extra.

By Lisa Ballard

  • Geologically, the Winds are primarily granite, shaped by erosion and several ice ages that sculpted its impressive cirques.
  • The Winds contain more than 180 glaciers, including Gannett Glacier on the north side of Gannett Peak, the largest glacier in the Rocky Mountains.
  • The Winds include 48 peaks over 12,500 feet.
  • The headwaters of the Green River (the largest fork of the Colorado River) and the Big Sandy River flow from the west side of the range. The Wind River, which becomes the Bighorn River (the largest fork of the Yellowstone River), drains from the east side.
  • Most of the alpine lakes in the Winds were historically devoid of fish until 1907. Since then, especially during the 1920s and 1930s, many of those lakes were stocked by individuals, the USDA Forest Service, and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. Today, anglers can find self-sustaining golden, brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout, grayling, and mackinaws (lake trout), depending on where one casts a line.
  • The Oregon Trail crossed the Continental Divide at South Pass (7,412 feet), at the southern end of the Winds. Today, South Pass remains an animal migration route from one side of the range to the other.
  • No roads cross the Wind River Range north of South Pass until you reach Union Pass (9,210 feet) at the northern end of the range.


Humans in the Wind River Range

The Shoshone and Crow Indians are considered the first inhabitants of the Wind River Range, summering there as early as 9,000 years ago. A subtribe of the Shoshone, known as Sheepeaters, lived in caves and wikiups (wood-framed huts covered with brush) at elevations over 10,000 feet, where they harvested pine nuts and hunted bighorn sheep.

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