U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Shoshone National Forest


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Forest Information

The Shoshone National Forest is located in northwestern Wyoming and is comprised of 2,466,586 acres. There are 43 developed campgrounds of which 20 meet the selection criteria.

The Shoshone National Forest is proud to be the first U.S. National Forest. The Shoshone maintains its reputation as a leader in conservation while continuing to offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities and numerous camping locations. As part of the Yellowstone eco-system, the Shoshone is committed to finding a balance between the native plants and animals and the people who live, work, and play in this diverse and dynamic area of western Wyoming.

With almost half its land designated Wilderness, the Shoshone National Forest appears much as it did when established in 1891. The mountain men of the 18th century would feel right at home in the land we know as Shoshone National Forest. From the rolling prairies, tumbling waterfalls, and fanciful rock formations, to 1,000 miles of perennial streams, 500 clear mountain lakes, and dense forests, visitors to the Shoshone National Forest can enjoy camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, photography, scenic drives, and much more in a near pristine environment.

Adjoined to the Yellowstone National Park on the east and south and containing the Fitzpatrick, Popo Agie (po-po-shia), Northern Absaroka, Beartooth-Absaroka, and Washakie Wildernesses, the Shoshone National Forest is home for seventy different species of mammals. Wolves, bears, both grizzly and black, elk, moose, bison, mountain goats, and big horn sheep are just some of the wildlife seen here. All the animals that live in the Forest should be considered wild and be given the respect each deserves. Although not in a designated Wilderness area, some places of the Forest, such as Three Mile and Eagle Creek campgrounds along the North Fork of the Shoshone River, may not be open to "soft-sided" camping units (tents and pop-up tent trailers) because of the bear presence. For more information about current consideration and being around the wildlife population, contact the Forest Supervisor's Office.

It should be noted, while there is no developed camping in any of the designated Wildernesses areas in the Shoshone National Forest, dispersed camping is permitted. Because dispersed camping is undeveloped these camping locations are not included in this review of the Forest's campgrounds. (Check with Forest Service for rules and regulations.)

Perhaps the only thing more abundant than the wildlife in the Forest are the breathtaking views from any one of the three Scenic Byways that crisscross the Shoshone. In the north, it is US Route 212, the Beartooth Scenic Byway. This long, steep climb route over Beartooth Pass is spectacular but can be a challenge for recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping units. The western side of the Pass is known as the "land of lakes" with views of the plateau's rolling alpine character. Here, the run-off from the many glaciers in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and winter snow pack produce hundreds of lakes. These many crystal clear blue gems reflect the images of the surrounding glacier striped peaks and attract hikers from around the world. Numerous trails wind up from US Route 212 to lakes and glaciers. For visitors who like exploring the area's beauty at a more leisurely pace, Island Lake and Beartooth Lake have scenic campgrounds. The transient visitors looking for a panoramic view of the area, the drive to Clay Butte Lookout fills the need.

A main route to Yellowstone National Forest from Cody, WY, is North Fork Scenic Byway, US 14/16/20. Paralleling the North Fork of the Shoshone River, Teddy Roosevelt claimed this route to be "50 of the most beautiful miles in America." Bound by the North Absaroka and Washakie Wildernesses, dotted with intriguing rock formations, robust wildlife populations, excellent fishing, and a variety of car, tent, RV and motorhome camping locations, visitors tend to agree.

The seven campgrounds along the North Fork Scenic Byway offer not only good transient, overnight camping for visitors on their way to Yellowstone National Park but are also an excellent base camp for exploring the area's beauty and diversity. Clearwater, Big Game, and Wapiti campgrounds offer not only good fishing but views of the interesting Absaroka volcanic geology. For hikers and trail riders, Elk Fork campground provides access to the Washakie Wilderness with a trail head at the campground's far end that includes hitching rails, feeding stalls, spacious corrals, and horse trailer parking. Because the Forest includes rugged and pristine wilderness, horse or mule is the best way to explore these areas and has given the Shoshone the nickname of "horse forest."

Then, there is the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, State Route 296. Named for the legendary Nez Perce chief who led his band of people along this route in their flight from the U.S. Army in 1877, the Byway roughly parallels the Clarks Fork River (a Class 1-Blue Ribbon Trout Stream) past the Sunlight Basin and up to the Beartooth Plateau.

Featuring its own special beauty is the southern portion of the Shoshone National Forest. The sage and grass prairie quickly gives way to stands of Lodgepole pine. Fiddler's Lake and Worthen Meadows campgrounds also offer rainbow and brook trout-filled lakes and a choice of several trails. A unique feature found at Fiddler's Lake is a specially designed mounting platform for wheelchair bound equestrians.

Around Dubois, Wyoming, the Shoshone National Forest has four campgrounds that must be mentioned - Falls, Pinnacles, Brooks Lake, and Double Cabin. Each of these campgrounds rivals the other for the most spectacular vista, abundant wildlife, and excellent camping experience. Like the homemade pies available at the Cowboy Cafe in Dubois, any one of these campgrounds will have visitors coming back time and again for more.

The Shoshone National Forest includes much of the rugged country contained in the 1891 Presidential Proclamation and this gives it a special feeling. The diversity and natural beauty of the land from more than a hundred years ago has been retained. The Shoshone National Forest continues to offer wide and varied recreational opportunities to all. The problem is not how to enjoy the magnificent beauty and wonders of this Forest but how to find the time to take advantage of it all.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 808 Meadow Lane Cody, Wyoming 82414-4516 307-527-6241 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Clarks Fork, Greybull and Wapiti 203A Yellowstone Ave. Cody, Wyoming 82414 307-527-6921 Washakie 333 E. Main St. Lander, Wyoming 82520 307-332-5460 Wind River 1403 W. Ramshorn P.O.B. 186 Dubois, Wyoming 82513 307-455-2466

Fred and Suzi Dow