Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022
Fifty miles north of Pinedale (population 1,200), at the end of a long dirt road, the Green River Lakes lie cradled at the base of 12,000-foot mountain peaks at the edge of the Bridger Wilderness in Bridger Teton National Forest.
An 8,000-foot elevation haven for hiking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, camping and fishing, the lakes are home to a variety of trout, including rainbow, brook, cutthroat, brown, mackinaw and grayling. Visit in the winter on snowmobile for breathtaking winter views.
Like many lakes on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains’ Wind River Range, the Green River Lakes are remnants of glaciers that carved gnarly canyons through the mountains. The area is home to deer, moose, elk, and bald and brown eagles. Yellow-bellied marmots (known by locals as rock chucks) dart among the granite boulders. Be sure to pack bear spray and follow food storage regulations, as grizzly and black bears also inhabit this rugged place.
The Highline Trail, which follows the Continental Divide through much of the Wind River Range, skirts the lower lake’s east side. Visitors can walk a 4.5-mile loop around the lower (bigger) lake.
Square Top Mountain, an impressive granite monolith so named for its striking square shape, towers over the south end of the lakes and is one of the most photographed mountains in the state. A campground on the north end of the lower lake is open for dispersed camping on a first-come, first-served basis.