Where: Northwest Wyoming, just southeast of Yellowstone between the towns of Shoshoni, Wyoming and Thermopolis, Wyoming on U.S. Highway 20 (Wyoming Highway 789). See map below.
Shoshoni, Wyoming: The town of Shoshoni, Wyoming, founded in the early 1900’s, was named for the Shoshone tribe of Native Americans, most of whom live on the nearby Wind River Indian Reservation, established for the Eastern Shoshone Indians in 1868, and currently home to members of the Arapaho and Shoshone Tribes.
Thermopolis, Wyoming: The town of Thermopolis, Wyoming, founded in 1897 at the southernmost point of the Big Horn Basin, got its name from the geothermal hot springs under its feet. Thermopolis is known for Hot Springs State Park where you can swim in the mineral-laden geothermal waters and kayak or fish in the Big Horn River.
What: The Wind River Canyon is a scenic Wyoming canyon carved out by the Wind River through the Owl Creek Mountains, a subrange of the Rocky Mountains. The road that runs through this area, called the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway, is located between the Wyoming towns of Shoshoni and Thermopolis and runs through the eastern portion of the Wind River Indian Reservation. The total drive takes about 35 to 40 minutes.
Come along with us as we take a scenic drive through the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming on U.S. Highway 20… just southeast of Yellowstone on the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway.
This canyon was carved by the Wind River running through a subrange of the Rocky Mountains called the Owl Creek Mountains.
We’re driving along the eastern portion of the Wind River Indian Reservation, which runs the vast expanse to our left. The Indian Reservation was established for the Eastern Shoshone Indians in 1868 and is currently home to members of the Arapaho and Shoshone Tribes.
Notice the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad line along the other side of the river, complete with tunnels through the rock.
We started our journey in the town of Shoshoni, Wyoming, which was named for the Shoshone tribe of Native Americans. Our scenic byway footage ends in the town of Thermopolis, Wyoming, which was founded in 1897. Thermopolis got its name from the geothermal hot springs under its feet.
The total drive takes about 35 to 40 minutes but you’ll want to stop at the Upper Wind River Campground inside the Reservation to take in the scenery and snap a few photos.
As we wind through the canyon, you can see the spectacular rock walls rising 2,500 vertical feet on either side of us. These are some of the oldest rock formations in the world, dating back to the Precambrian period, more than 2.9 billion years ago!
When you take this trip for yourself, keep your eyes peeled high up on the rocks and you may see some of the bighorn sheep who call this area home.
The Wind River changes names to the Big Horn River at an area in the river known as the “Wedding of the Waters.” This is actually the same river with two names.
As we travel north, the Big Horn River & Wind Rivers are flowing northward along with us through the Wind River Canyon and continue northward through Thermopolis where it eventually joins the Yellowstone River at Bighorn, Montana.