This rugged piece of the Rocky Mountains, extending for approximately 80 miles along the western slope of the Continental Divide, contains a unique combination of jagged granite rock, alpine forest, and open alpine meadows. All of this wilderness is located in Wyoming and is managed by the Forest Service. The Bridger Wilderness is bordered by the Fitzpatrick Wilderness to the northeast and the Popo Agie Wilderness to the southeast.
Bridger Wilderness Area
The United States Congress designated the Bridger Wilderness in 1964 and it now has a total of 428,087 acres.
Serving as the headwaters for the mighty Green River, this wilderness holds 7 of the 10 largest glaciers in the Lower 48, more than 2,300 cold crystalline lakes and ponds, and numerous glacier-carved cirques, kettles, valleys, and hanging troughs.
Jim Bridger, certainly one of the most famous mountain men in American history, is memorialized by this popular Wilderness in the Wind River Range of western Wyoming.
Gannett Peak, located on the shared boundary of the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, is the highest point in Wyoming at 13,804 feet, towering above a vast area of stark granite summits that were once thrust violently into the sky by enormous compressional forces within the earth.
In addition to the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, the Popo Agie Wilderness and Wind River Indian Reservation also lie directly adjacent to this wilderness on the eastern side of the Divide.
More than 600 miles of trails provide access to this seemingly boundless area. At elevations ranging from 8,000 to 13,000+ feet, it can freeze any night of the year, even after warm, sunny summer days.
Snow usually lingers on the high trails and passes until mid or late July, but the lower trails are normally open by late June. Visitors are warned to acclimatize to this high-elevation wilderness to avoid succumbing to high-altitude sickness, which is a life-threatening illness.
In July and August, mosquitoes and biting flies are pesky, making tents and repellant a must. Mule deer, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, gray wolf, grizzly and black bears are just a few of the many wildlife species found in this wilderness.
Other Wilderness residents that you are likely to see include bald eagles, yellow-bellied marmots whistling from sun-washed rocks, little round-eared squeaking pikas, and beavers working busily in this water-rich wilderness.
Visitors are required to store food and attractants properly to prevent habituating or encountering black and grizzly bears.
Restrictions in the Bridger Wilderness Area
1. Maximum Group Size is 15 People. Traveling or using a campsite or other area in a group larger than 15 is prohibited. Larger groups must split into two or more smaller groups and remain a minimum of 1/2 mile apart.
2. All campsites must be located at least 200 feet away from lakes & system trails and at least 100 feet from streams, creeks, or springs.
3. All organized groups (Scouts, church groups, clubs, etc.) who are in the area must have a visitor permit. Free permits are available at Pinedale Ranger District, P.O. Box 220, Pinedale, WY 82941.
4. Building, maintaining, attending or using an open fire above timberline is prohibited. Cutting or removing standing wood (either dead or live) is prohibited.
5. For the purpose of minimizing adverse interactions between bears and humans, all food and refuse must be acceptably stored. Bear resistant food storage containers are available on loan from the Pinedale District office.
6. Camping in a single location for a period longer than 16 consecutive days is prohibited.
7. Temporary camp structures such as hitching racks, tent frames, or temporary tables will not be nailed or permanently attached to any trees and must be dismantled after the use period (maximum of 16 days).
8. Shortcutting a switchback in a trail is prohibited.
9. Possessing or using a wagon, cart or other vehicle (including game carts) is prohibited. Persons using a wheelchair as a necessary medical appliance are exempt from this prohibition.
1. Maximum Number of Stock is 25.
2. Overnight campers with pack and saddle stock must have a visitor permit. Free permits are available at Pinedale Ranger District, P.O. Box 220, Pinedale, WY 82941.
3. Possessing bulk hay or straw is not allowed inside Wilderness.
4. Allowing free trailing of pack or saddle stock on Forest Service System Trails is prohibited.
5. Hitching, tethering, or picketing horses or other livestock within 200 feet of a lake or 100 feet of a stream or other free-flowing water is prohibited.
6. Pack and saddle stock must be tied so as not to cause injury or damage to any tree, vegetation, or soil.