Where: Wyoming, USA.
Best season: August is a great season for all purpose outdoor activities
Best sights: Native American tribes reservation and wild roaming horses.
Remember to bring: A pair of nylons to avoid saddle sores.
The Rocky Mountain State of Wyoming is bordered by Idaho to the west and Montanato the north. It’s large areas of unspoilt land, rolling hills and grassy plains make it ideal cattle country and traditional ranching still survives.
This horse-riding trek takes Holly Morris to the Bitterroot Ranch, near Dubois, in west-central Wyoming. It’s the last ranch in a remote valley, which borders the Shoshone National Forest and the Wind River Indian Reservation. You don’t need to be an expert rider for this trip, but a little experience will keep you from getting too saddle sore. The terrain is extremely varied: you’ll see snow-capped mountains, sagebrush plains and grassy meadows, and rocky gorges give way to forested mountains and alpine clearings.
– Early morning fly-fishing in one of Wyoming’s many fast-running streams
– Heading out on horseback into the warm sunshine with the Rocky Mountains in front of you
– Living the life of a real cowboy – if only for a few days!
Our Journey Path (as featured in Best Treks)
Starting at the Bitterroot Ranch, Holly and her guides, Mel and Bayard Fox, head up through the Shoshone National Forest. Their aim is to move the cattle higher into the Absaroka Range, then drive them east, over the final ridge and into the East Fork Basin.
By the end of day one, Holly and the cowboys have already moved the herd several miles and so they set up camp. The next day an early morning fly-fishing trip to a nearby stream is perfect for Holly, who is an accomplished fly fisher. After a good cowboy breakfast, it’s time to pack up and move em’ out, higher into theAbsarokas. With snow-capped peaks in every direction, Holly and the ranchers drive the cattle up the plains and over the final ridge to the East Fork Basin, where the cattle are put to pasture for another few months.
Wear a pair of nylon pantyhose (yes, the men too!) underneath a pair of jeans if you don’t have leather chaps – this will protect your legs from chaffing.
Mel Fox, owner of Bitterroot Ranch, is famed for her knack of matching horse to rider. Whatever your skills, Mel will find the horse for you. She has over a hundred horses to choose from.
Did you know?
The Wind River Range is Wyoming’s highest mountain range, with superb trails along the Continental Divide. The Wind River Indian Reservation is home to over 2500 Eastern Shoshone and more than 5000 Arapaho people and is Wyoming’s only Indian reservation. It’s 3600 square miles in size and operates its own tax and court systems, game and fish department and public transportation. A visit can offer an interesting glimpse into 21st century Native American life.
About 5000 wild horses roam south western Wyoming. Herds can be seen along the west side of US 191 between Rock Springs and Boulder. The horses are protected under the BLM authority.
Ranchers must move their cattle regularly so that none of the fragile wilderness is overgrazed. However, traditional ranching in this area is becoming threatened. Many ranchers now have to provide the cowboy experience to paying visitors in order to subsidise their incomes.
The short summer season lasts August to September and is a perfect time for hiking, climbing, fishing and horseback riding in the Area. Snowmobiling is also possible in the winter months.
The Shoshone Tribal Cultural Centre can provide details of native cultural events in the area. Please be aware that while non-Natives are welcomed at these gatherings, you will not be allowed to use cameras, video or tape recorders.
Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center
15 North Fork Road
Fort Washakie, Wyoming
Tel: (307) 332-9106
main image is c/o creative commons: a cattle roundup in Colorado, c. 1898.