Wind River Range backpacking

A backpacker below Jackass Pass, overlooking the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

On a cool early morning in August while backpacking the Wind River High Route, I hiked in the shadow of tall mountains to Jackass Pass at 10,790 feet—a spot I’ve stood on at least a few times before, overlooking the incomparable Cirque of the Towers in the Winds—and affirmed a truth about that patch of rocks and dirt: It still possessed the capacity to take my breath away and make my heart speed up a little bit (although the climb to the pass may have had something to do with that).

It was a comfort to see that the effect the Wind River Range has on me had not changed.

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A backpacker hiking into Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

In late afternoon, near the end of a day of backpacking some 14 miles—mostly above 10,000 feet—two friends and I walked into Titcomb Basin, deep in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, mouths gaping open. Forming a horseshoe embracing this alpine valley at over 10,500 feet, mountains soared more than 3,000 feet above the windblown Titcomb Lakes, including the second-highest in the Winds, 13,745-foot Fremont Peak, on the Continental Divide.

But by that point on the first day of our 39-mile backpacking trip, my companions were fully smitten by the Winds—as I have been since my first trip there 30 years ago.

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A backpacker in the East Fork River Valley on the Wind River High Route, Wyoming.

The Wind River High Route—A Journey in Photos

By Michael Lanza An elegant, high-elevation, multi-day walk through a magnificent mountain range is the stuff of dreams for many backpackers, and there may be no walk better than the Wind River High Route. Traversing a range with few equals by any measure—elevations, abundance of alpine lakes and glaciers, remoteness, length and breadth, or raw splendor—the WRHR embodies everything we …

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza What makes for a great backpacking trip? Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. While there’s definitely something inspirational about a big walk in the wild, some of the finest trips in the country can be done in a few days and half of the hikes on this list …

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Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range

A Walk in the Winds—Dayhiking 27 Miles Across the Wind River Range

By Michael Lanza

At 6:20 a.m., more than an hour into our hike, the sun surfaces through the thick layer of wildfire smoke in the valley below us. A blood-red sliver with clouds above it burning orange and yellow, it slowly blossoms into a partial disk, then a full, sharply defined orb glowing like a hot ember. It looks both beautiful and darkly sinister.

I’m trying to figure out whether this sunrise is a metaphor for our plans to hike 27 miles across Wyoming’s Wind River Range today. But I’m working on three hours of sleep and my brain’s functioning at about 20 percent of capacity. So I’m not sure whether this sunrise through wildfire smoke foretells us burning up the trail or, conversely, crashing and burning. As tired as I feel, I’m not sure that I want to know.

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