Explore a National Forest near Yellowstone

The greater Yellowstone Park region is home to 27 scenic national forests throughout Wyoming, Idaho and Montana including the Wind River Range.
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Aspen in Shoshone National Forest

Aspen in Shoshone National Forest

The greater Yellowstone region is home to 27 national forests.

In Wyoming, there are six: the Bighorn, Bridger-Teton, Medicine Bow, Thunder Basin, Shoshone, and Black Hills.

Nine forests can be enjoyed in Montana: the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Bitterroot, Custer, Flathead, Gallatin, Helena, Kootenai, Lewis and Clark, and Lolo.

In Idaho, there are 12: the Boise, Caribou, Challis, Clearwater, Coeur d’Alene, Kaniksu, St. Joe, Nez Perce, Payette, Salmon, Sawtooth, and Targhee. Located immediately east of Yellowstone Park is the Shoshone National Forest, which encompasses about 2.5 million acres. The Shoshone was designated the first national forest in the United States. It contains some of the most rugged country in the Lower 48.

The Wind River Range makes up much of this forest. Many outdoor enthusiasts, including some who live in Montana and Colorado, believe that Wyoming’s Wind River Range is the prettiest range in all of the Rocky Mountains.

The Wind River Range encompasses 2.25 million acres and stretches more than 100 miles from South Pass to Togwotee Pass. Much of the range’s crest forms the Continental Divide. The highest point is Gannett Peak—at 13,804 feet, it’s Wyoming’s tallest peak.

About 900,000 acres of backcountry make up four wilderness areas in the Wind River Range. More than 2,000 lakes dot the terrain, most a result of glaciation. Sixty percent of Wyoming’s glaciers are in this range and, collectively, represent the largest glaciated area in the Lower 48.

The majestic Big Horn Mountains seem to have a magnetic effect, drawing people with their beauty and recreational opportunities. Scenic Byway U.S. Highway 16 crosses the mountains, connecting the town of Buffalo on the east side with Ten Sleep on the west.

Visit the Big Horn Mountain trailheads along the way for some of the finest hiking in all the Western States.

Buffalo, Wyoming is tucked away at the base of the Big Horn Mountains. It is an outdoor paradise filled with so many recreational opportunities that it’s best to plan on staying longer than one day.

While visiting Meeteetse, Wyoming, drive up the Wood River and Greybull River roads into the Shoshone Forest to experience spectacular views and abundant wildlife.

Outdoor enthusiasts can fish or camp at Brown Mountain, Wood River or Jack Creek campgrounds. Sports enthusiasts can also enjoy cross-country skiing, hunting, or even a game of golf at the 9-hole golf course.

Surrounded by three mountain ranges, hundreds of lakes and streams and backcountry trails, Dubois, Wyoming, in the heart of the Shoshone Forest, offers a multitude of recreational opportunities from ATV riding to mountain fishing.

Trails abound just outside of Centennial, Wyoming, at the base of the Snowy Range Mountains. Check with the local chamber in Laramie for a trail-hiking guide. This beautiful area has trails for every level of hiker.

Montana’s Gallatin National Forest, which encompasses 1.8 million acres, shares its borders with Yellowstone Park.

The world’s largest thermal basin has produced fault lines that run through the Gallatin, resulting in places like Earthquake Lake, formed by a 1959 quake that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale.

The Gallatin National Forest features more than 2,000 miles of trails, more than 1,000 miles of streams and rivers, and more than 500 lakes and reservoirs.

Idaho’s Targhee National Forest lies almost entirely within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The forest encompasses 1.8 million acres, and is home to semidesert, sagebrush terrain as well as peaks that top 10,000 feet.

Combined, these forests boast thousands of miles of trails for hiking, biking, ATV- and horseback riding, snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing.

These are public lands—your lands—so get out and see what they have to offer while you’re out West.

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