Sweetwater County, Wyoming, is made up of an amazing 10,000 square miles – the county is actually bigger than seven individual U.S. states.
About 75 percent of the county's land mass is public and open to anyone who wants to explore or access it, while the remaining 25 percent of land is private. But much of the private land is also open to the public.
“A person walking, biking or riding through all this land won't find fences or trespass signs,” says Lance Porter, Rock Springs field manager for the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. “There is a roam-free kind of spirit in Sweetwater County.”
Porter says visitors might not even realize they are trekking on private property because landowners have all agreed to keep their land open and accessible. And there are many beautiful sights to see throughout Sweetwater County, including historic wagon trails that are still intact with more than 100 miles of wagon ruts still visible.
Another popular attraction is Killpecker Sand Dunes, which is ideal for off-road vehicle enthusiasts and ATVers thanks to 13,000 acres open to off-road vehicle use. Then there are the White Mountain Petroglyphs that feature bizarre rock formations and ancient drawings depicting elk, horses, teepees, buffalo and humans.
Is That a Pygmy Rabbit?
There is also picturesque camping in the Wind River Front, plus viewing outdoor wonders like Boar’s Tusk, Castle Rock, Palisades Reservoirs, Expedition Island, Kissing Rocks and Tollgate Rock. Meanwhile, wildlife here in southwestern Wyoming includes pronghorn antelope, pygmy rabbits, burrowing owls, desert elk and golden eagles.
“Visitors can also access the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop Tour, which consists of gravel roads for about 24 miles that allow anyone to view wild mustangs in their natural habitat,” Porter says. “The self-guided tour begins and ends in either Rock Springs or Green River, and guided tours can also be arranged. By the way, maps are available to the public for $4 apiece at the BLM office that detail all recreation accessibility and possibilities throughout this entire region.”
Take Your Pic
John Partain is a Rock Springs native and professional photographer who has owned Outdoors Etc. gallery in Rock Springs for the past 10 years. The gallery features the largest display of Wyoming photography in the state, highlighting the wide open spaces, wild landscape, vistas, sunrises and wildlife.
Partain says there are thousands of hidden treasures in the way of rock formations, plant life and wildlife in Sweetwater County to help fill out any photographer's portfolio.
“I have taken photos here that have become finalists in international photography contests, with two of my award-winning photos entitled Pine Canyon Storm and Hell's Half Acre,” he says. “I love being a photographer in Sweetwater County, with much of undiscovered and unexplored America out here. The thousands of square miles of untouched, unfenced land – it’s all amazing."
Read about more ways to enjoy the outdoors in Rock Springs, WY.