Encampment River Canyon WSA

Location: Carbon County

Nearest Town: Encampment (2 miles)

BLM Acreage: 4,547 acres

hdd-par-17084-image-1-1-1Primitive & Unconfined Recreation:
The Encampment River Canyon WSA offers opportunities for a great variety of recreational activities, including fishing, hunting, backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing photography, camping, rock hounding and sightseeing. The river canyon attracts recreationists from Wyoming and the neighboring state of Colorado, Nebraska and Utah.


The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) have classified the Encampment River as very good trout waters with statewide importance.

The Encampment River Trail parallels the river and provides access to the entire length of the river. The trail is closed to motorized vehicle use year round, and the entire WSA is closed to motorized traffic in the winter for big game protection.

Mule deer hunting is very popular within the WSA as it is locally considered a potential trophy area. There are no hunting seasons on bighorn sheep in the area because of low sheep numbers.

The topography of the entire unit is mountainous. The Encampment River and Miner Creek, a major tributary, add scenic features to the area. Stands of conifers and aspen on the slopes and cottonwoods along the river create a typical alpine setting.

From their lofty perches, bighorn sheep warily eye the hikers on the Encampment River Trail below. The trail, which traverses the WSA and enters Colorado to the south, follows the scenic Encampment River. Located two miles south of Encampment and easily accessible from BLM’s Encampment River Campground, this 4,547-acre WSA contains grasslands, riparian areas and forested slopes. All 4,547 acres of this WSA were recommended for wilderness status in the 1992 report to Congress.

Most of the WSA is in a relatively natural state. A fence line crosses one half of the WSA, but its location is not intrusive except at one place on the hiking trail that parallels the river. The area also has a few two-track trails, remains of two old cabins, the washed-out remains of a river dam, numerous prospect pits and tunnels and the remains of a wooden pipeline. These intrusions have weathered for many years and now blend into the overall view. Except for two piles of mine tailings, the intrusions are not noticeable from a distance. They do not seriously impair the wilderness character of the WSA as a whole.

The International Order of Odd Fellow (IOOF) has developed a private parcel of land adjacent to the WSA along the river; however, due to screening provided by trees, rock outcrops and steep canyon walls, the area is not noticeable from within the WSA. The development does not impair the wilderness character of the WSA.

The WSA offers opportunities for solitude in the canyon. The deep canyons and high rocky ridges provide topographic screening, and the vegetation of the area contributes further screening. At current and projected levels of use, contacts between the visitors would be high along the trail, which would reduce the level of solitude. The portion of the WSA above the canyon is accessible by vehicles and solitude qualities are diminished.

Special Features:
The Encampment River Canyon contains sites associated with early exploration and mining activities of regional historical importance.