It all starts in Shoshoni, Wyoming, the home to the Shoshone Native American tribe. In beautiful central Wyoming lies the gateway to the magnificent Wind River Canyon, an incredible sight of towering cliffs on either side of the Wind River.
The Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway starts in milepost 100 in Shoshoni and meaders on U.S. Highway 20 north through Wind River Canyon and the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway. This 40-minute scenic drive finishes at the end of the canyon at milepost 134 just outside of Thermopolis.
Native Land & The Wind River Indian Reservation
Wind River Indian Reservation is the seventh-largest reservation in the United States and spans 2.2 million acres. The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Native tribes reside here after they were forced out of their sacred land after colonization.
Today, those interested in learning about the tribes can visit the reservation, attend a powwow, and educate themselves at the museum.
Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway
Tourists and nature-seekers flock from all around to drive the 34-mile scenic byway between Shoshoni and Thermopolis, Wyoming. The trek through the Wind River Canyon and Boysen Reservoir surrounded by the beautiful Boysen State Park. At the start of the journey, the Owl Creek Mountains edge the west side and the turquoise waters of Boysen Reservoir (created by Boysen Dam) on the east.
Once you enter the canyon, 2,500-foot tall walls ascend above you on each side, with the Wind River roaring in between. Once the Wind River hits the Wedding of the Waters near Thermopolis, where it flows through Bighorn Basin where the river changes names to the Bighorn River.
This route is fantastic for white-water rafting, scenic lunches, and sightings of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.
Visit Sacajawea’s Grave
The extraordinary Shoshone woman who journeyed 3000 miles as an interpreter for Lewis and Clark is buried in Wyoming, although there are contradictory stories. One story says that she died in 1812 from fever around the age of 24.
Another story says that she left her husband, married a Comanche, and later returned to her home in Wyoming. She died at the incredible age of 100 in 1884.
We may never know the unvarnished truth. But you can still visit her gravesite at a cemetery off of South Fork Road, simply labeled “Sacajawea Cemetary.” There is a bronze memorial statue in the back, and her gravesite is in the center of the cemetery.
What To Do in Wind River Canyon
Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Flyfishing Outfitter is a Native American-owned business and the only company allowed to raft or fish in the reservation portion of the canyon. Schedule a flyfishing excursion, a whitewater rafting trip with this environmentally conscious company making customers happy since 1992.
In the near vicinity, you can visit popular attractions such as Boysen State Park, Hot Springs State Park, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, or in August, the Wyoming State Championship Old Time Fiddle Contest.
Have you explored Wind River Canyon? Share your trip on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!