Ranging in elevation from 6,000 ft. to 12,000 ft above sea level, southern Wyoming is a mixture of short-prairies with pockets of rocky mountain ranges and several flat, dry and brushy areas. This variety of terrain, coupled with consistent weather cycles, provide specific "seasons" for outdoor recreation. The combination of mountains, rivers, lakes and streams create great opportunities for fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, picnicking, rock climbing, hunting, riding ORVs, snowmobiling, skiing and wildlife viewing.
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If you had to pick one sport that southern Wyoming is famous for, it would be fishing. Open water can be found year round, however anglers prefer to fish the Upper North Platte "the Premier Blue Ribbon Wild Trout Stream" and other rivers late-April through September. High alpine lakes and streams are accessible late-June through October. January and February are typically the best months for ice fishing at lower elevation lakes.
Fishing licenses are required for anglers 14 years of age and older. All license holders, except daily licenses, are required to have a conservation stamp. Licenses, fishing regulations, boating regulations and public access information are available locally and through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The Upper North Platte and Encampment Rivers are among Wyoming’s best rivers for float trips, ranging from whitewater thrills to leisurely drifting. Typical floating craft used include inflatable rafts, flat-bottom boats, canoes and kayaks.
The season typically runs May through September, however, the duration of this season is determined mainly by the amount of snowpack at high elevations and the rate at which it melts throughout the summer. Permits are not required for private float trips on the Upper North Platte or Encampment rivers. Daily flow information is available from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Hiking, Mountain Biking & Riding ORVs
Southern Wyoming has an endless variety of hiking experiences. You can wander through dense aspen and lodgepole pine forests, meander along the spine of the Continental Divide, puff up the rocky and snowy slopes of Medicine Bow Peak, saunter along lush mountain meadows and streams, amble among outstanding rock formations and stroll through wildflowers and sagebrush in open prairies. The possibilities are as diverse as the surroundings.
Most lower elevation trails are accessible late-May through October. The high elevation trails and campgrounds in the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountain Range open late-June/early-July.
Camping & Picnicking
Campgrounds and picnic areas are scattered through southern Wyoming, on the Medicine Bow National Forest and on BLM lands. Sites and areas are accessible late-May through October, however, high elevation trails and campgrounds may not be available until late-June/early-July. Most campsites and picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and have restrooms, trash cans and drinking water on site. Several sites can be reserved in advance at recreation.gov. Daily use fees apply. Overnight camping is not allowed in picnic areas unless posted.
Dispersed camping is also allowed in remote areas of the backcountry, provided camps are at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
The Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics is a good standard for everyone to follow.
Big Game Hunting
Southern Wyoming has long been known as a premier destination for hunting big game. It has a huge diversity of terrain and habitat with a large variety of big and small game. Pronghorn antelope, mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep are the big game animals. Black bear and mountain lion are the trophy game animals. Blue grouse, sage grouse, ducks, geese, wild turkey, morning doves and cottontail rabbits are the common small game. BLM, National Forest and State lands offer plenty of accessible public lands, from high mountain forests to miles of sagebrush prairies.
Non-resident and many resident big game licenses are distributed by lottery system. Odds at drawing a license vary depending on hunt areas and the number of preference points a hunter has accumulated over time. Preference points give hunters with more points a better chance of drawing. The odds and numbers of points needed to draw for each area, applications, deadlines and other hunting information are available from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Exceptional snow conditions in the southern Wyoming present miles of groomed and ungroomed trails, plus excellent backcountry access. Trail maps, which include parking and avalanche areas, and regulations can be obtained from government agencies and local retailers.
The Snowy Range is the largest and most developed snowmobile area in southern Wyoming, with 306 miles of groomed trails and 170 miles of ungroomed trails. The terrain is varied with plenty of play areas, hills and deep champagne powder. Snow depths reach up to 12 feet.
The Sierra Madre Mountain Range is relatively uncrowded and offers a 110 miles of groomed and 50 miles of ungroomed trails and two trailheads/parking lots. Snow depths reach up to 8 feet.
A snowmobiling permit is required. For current snow conditions, contact SNOTEL.