Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming

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Shoshone National Forest


Located in northwest Wyoming, the Shoshone National Forest is known for its diverse landscapes including plains, mountains, forests, and canyons.  It's 2.5 million acres, with over half being designated Wilderness, offer immense recreation opportunities.

  • The Shoshone National Forest is located in Wyoming, bordering Yellowstone National Park
  • Offers a diverse ecosystem with plains, canyons, forests, and mountains     
  • Over half of this forest is designated Wilderness
  • Recreational activities include fishing, hiking, camping, scenic drives and snowmobiling
  • First U.S. National Forest

Overview

The Shoshone National Forest of Wyoming is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, encompassing diverse natural features including brush planes and rocky canyons, as well as snow-capped peaks and dense spruce forests. More than half of the Shoshone is designated as Wilderness, making it the ideal location for recreational activities, including fishing, camping, hiking, scenic drives, and snowmobiling.

Location & Directions

Shoshone National Forest spans nearly 2.5 million acres in northwestern Wyoming. Yellowstone National Park borders it to the west, and the Montana state line creates its northern boundary. The Shoshone Forest spans south to Lander, Wyoming. This national forest can be accessed from Red Lodge by driving south on Highway 212, or east on State Highway 308 via the Chief Joseph Byway.

Activities

Fishing
The numerous lakes and streams of the Shoshone National Forest offer amazing trout fishing—even referred to as “Blue Ribbon Trout Fishing”. Outfitter services out of Cody also offer guided fishing trips along the Clarks Fork and Shoshone Rivers. Wyoming fishing regulations and permits apply to the Shoshone National Forest. One great place to fish is located along the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway at Fiddler’s Lake. Here, anglers have a chance to catch brook and rainbow trout.

Hiking and Horseback Riding
There are over 1,500 miles of trails throughout the Shoshone National Forest, giving equestrian riders, hikers, and backpackers the opportunity to explore all the forests’ wonders.

  • The Beartooth Loop National Recreation Trail located along Highway 212 takes hikers along an alpine ridge, through deep valley meadows, and past several crystal clear lakes.
  • The Elk Fork Trailhead located near the North Fork Byway offers amenities for horse care including corrals and hitching rails. Follow this trail via horse to access the breathtaking Washakie Wilderness.

Camping
There are several vehicle-access campgrounds within the national forest, as well as dispersed camping (undeveloped) throughout the Wilderness areas. Several of the developed campgrounds offer running water, bathrooms, and handicapped accessibility. Island Lake campground along Highway 212 offers vistas of the beautiful mountain lakes scattered to the west of the Beartooth Plateau.

Scenic Drives
Because if it’s diverse and beautiful natural features, there are several scenic drives throughout the Shoshone National Forest.

  • The Beartooth Scenic Highway (MT Highway 212) is located in the northwest area of the Shoshone. This “All-American Road” travels over the Beartooth Plateau and into the Shoshone National Forest, offering amazing vistas of the mountain lakes created by ancient glaciers.
  • The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway along WY Highway 296 parallels the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone, passing over the 100 foot Clark’s Fork Canyon. This byway offers amazing vistas of the Clark’s Fork Valley as it follows the historic path of the Nez Perce tribe.
  • The North Fork Scenic Byway (US 14/16/20) follows the North Fork of the Shoshone River. Here, visitors can see amazing rock formations and wildlife.

Snowmobiling and Cross-Country Skiing
During the winter months, visitors can cross-country ski or snowmobile the various recreational trails. With nearly 40 feet of snow per year, the Continental Divide Trail (south Shoshone National Forest) offers amazing snowmobiling. Many of the summer walking trails throughout the forest offer great cross-country skiing options.

Historical Tidbit

The Shoshone National Forest was named after the Shoshoni Indians who made a living in this area. Several other tribes used this land for hunting and trading. Later, in 1891 this area was deemed a national forest by President Benjamin Harrison, making it the first U.S. National Forest.

Contact


Shoshone National Forest Headquarters
808 Meadow Lane
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-527-6241

Clarks Fork Ranger District
203A Yellowstone Ave.
Cody, Wyoming 82414
307-527-6921


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Other Resources
  • Gallatin Forest
    National Forest covering much of the northwest border of Yellowstone.