Camping Around Pinedale, Wyoming
Page Summary: Wilderness, National Forest, and BLM provide numerous developed campgrounds and unlimited dispersed camping.
Over 80% of Sublette County is public land administered by government agencies, providing thousands of acres for public recreation. Many developed campgrounds exist throughout the area as well as unlimited dispersed camping opportunities. The Bridger-Teton National Forest, the second largest National Forest in the United States outside Alaska, has numerous developed campgrounds with picnic tables and restroom facilities near lakes and streams for public use around Pinedale, Wyoming. The Bureau of Land Management also administers several developed campgrounds in the county. The area is noted for its spectacular mountain scenery, uncrowded open spaces, large and diverse wildlife populations, and many opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreational activities.
Developed campgrounds are typically located in scenic areas near lakes or streams, and many have access to trails into the high mountain country. Some developed campgrounds are free of charge and others are available at a small nightly fee. Some also have Campground Hosts on location during the summer to answer questions and provide information to campground users. Some of the more heavily used campgrounds can be reserved online through the National Recreation Reservation System, ReserveUSA, at www.reserveusa.com or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Reservations must be made at least ten days in advance. Fees range from $5 to $15 per night, depending on the site. Campgrounds not on the reservation system are available on a first-come, first served basis. Visitors should be aware that local campgrounds typically see their heaviest use during July and August, as well as during national and local holidays. Most developed campgrounds are accessible to RVs, but none have hookups. Some access roads to some may be rough for long or low-clearance vehicles, so it is advisable to ask about the road conditions specific to the area you wish to visit if you are unfamiliar with the area. It is always a good idea to have a spare tire with you at all times and overnight emergency supplies for the members in your party in case you get stranded in a remote area. Services are available at most towns, but most area campgrounds are many miles from help should you experience a breakdown.
Some campgrounds, but not all, have drinking water available, restrooms, trash dumpsters, and bear proof storage areas. Some restrooms in several campgrounds have been modified to be handicapped accessible, but for the most part many areas in and around the campgrounds may be difficult to access for individuals in wheelchairs or with physical handicaps. None of the public campgrounds have showers. The closest shower and laundry facilities are in Pinedale & Big Piney. Campgrounds with Campground Hosts have access to radios to reach outside help if needed, but otherwise no public phones are available at any of the forest campgrounds. Cell phone reception is often unavailable or spotty at many of these locations because they are located in remote mountain locations. For those who need cell phone communication, expect to drive many miles from most campgrounds to get to an area that affords a clear cell phone signal. This may be a great opportunity to put the phone away and just enjoy the quiet and fishing!
Campgrounds in the area are typically open and managed only during the summer season from about June through September, depending on when access is open and free of snow. During the winter, campgrounds are typically snowed in. During these times campgrounds may still be used by snowmobilers and skiers, but be aware that water and restroom facilities will not be available.
For those who prefer to 'rough it' away from developed campgrounds and other campers, there are unlimited areas throughout the county for dispersed camping! Many scenic spots are located next to great fishing streams and by lakes for those who wish to pitch a tent or pull in a camper in a cozy spot. Many places already have fire rings and cleared areas for campfires in these places. Campfires are allowed in these locations as long as the fire danger on the forest is not too high and campfire restrictions are not in effect. Campers are responsible for keeping their campfires under control at all times. If you are unsure about any restrictions in the area you wish to camp, please check in with the local Forest Service Ranger Station office and ask about current conditions and any advisories. Dispersed camping sites need to be located at least 200 feet from water and at least 100 feet off roads or trails. There are also limits to the number of days visitors can occupy a campsite, so check with the nearest Forest Service office to discuss your plans for extended stays. Most areas for dispersed camping operate on the "Pack it in, pack it out" system with minimum impact camping techniques encouraged since trash services are not offered in those locations. Dispersed recreationists are advised to either bring their own drinking water or use approved purification techniques before drinking any water from area streams or lakes to avoid being infected with the giardia micro-organism that lives in nearly all area open water sources, despite the pristine appearance or location.
What about bears? Pinedale, Wyoming is also bear country. Both grizzly bears and black bears inhabit the mountains and forests in the county. Typically, bears are not a problem in area campgrounds, but it is not unheard of to have a bear come into them. During seasons of drought, as the West has experienced for the past several years, natural food supplies for bears is in limited supply and bears may come down out of the mountains to human occupied areas in their search for food. Some campgrounds, such as Green River Lakes and the Big Sandy area, have bear proof storage containers or storage poles at some sites. Not all campgrounds or sites have them, however. It is important for forest users to be "bear aware" and keep a clean camp at all times to not attract bears into your camping area. In designated grizzly habitat area, such as the Upper Green River Lakes area, it is required that all food and garbage be stored where it is impossible for a bear to reach, such as in a closed vehicle. Local Forest Service offices have pamphlets and information handouts on how to camp in bear country.
Pets are welcome in the National Forest, but must be kept under control. Dogs may spook horses and llamas and it is the obligation of the dog owner to keep their pet under control at all times to avoid injury to horses, riders, hikers and other forest visitors. Most forest areas have abundant wildlife including deer, moose, antelope, bears, skunks and porcupines which may present unexpected or unpleasant surprises for animal owners who let their pets run loose. Dog owners are asked to be considerate of others and not leave pet waste on trails or in campsites. Certain areas in the Pine Creek watershed and around Fremont Lake, Pinedale's water supply, have additional restrictions regarding dogs in the area. Please read posted signs for more information.