Lander is a small city located in West central Wyoming near the Wind River Mountain range and less than three hours from Jackson. The city of Lander is an outdoor mecca. In fact, many state and federal organizations as well as private and non-profit outdoor organizations such as National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Wyoming office of the Nature Conservancy, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation keep their offices in Lander.
While Lander is internationally known in the climbing community, I believe this city of 7,500 has been flying under the radar when it comes to attracting other outdoor enthusiasts. In ten years, I expect it will be the next Moab for summer adventures.
Below are some things to do in Lander:
As you might guess, the biggest thing to do in Lander is to spend time outdoors. Take your pick: hike, mountain bike, climb, fish, four-wheel drive, paddle board, kayak, or horseback ride. It has it all, though you might have to bring your own horse unless you are staying on a nearby dude ranch, such as Diamond 4 Ranch.
Hiking and Fishing in Lander
I hiked five trails in the Shoshone National Forest and Sinks Canyon State Park. Most of them were moderate in nature. They featured lakes, waterfalls, and views. More details may be found at my post, Five Hikes Near Lander.
As I hiked, I ran into tons of fishermen. Most of them were hiking to Upper Silas Lake with their rod in tow. Fishing is clearly a popular choice around the area.
Off Roading in Lander
If fishing and hiking aren’t your game, don’t worry there is a network of dirt roads for off-roading. You’ll need your own vehicle for that (unless you go to Dubois for a rental), but if you are in need of a spare part, Lander should have you covered. Lander Marine & Kawasaki is the oldest Kawasaki’s oldest dealer in the USA.
Along with a network of dirt roads, there are countless mountain bike trails with an ambitious master plan to add more. Lander hosts two bike shops, so you may find bike rentals at The Bike Mill or Gannet Peak Sports.
Want to kayak? Louis Lake Lodge rents kayaks, canoes, and fishing boats at Louis Lake. Or bring your own toys and try out Worthen Meadow Reservoir, Frye Lake. or Fiddlers Lake.
Of course, as I previously mentioned, Lander is a mecca for climbing. Sinks Canyon, Wild Iris, and Fossil Hill attract climbers from all over the world. Don’t miss the International Climbers’ Festival held in July.
Stroll Main Street
After a morning outdoors, stop by Main Street. Along Main Street you will find bike and outdoor shops, restaurants, a brewery, art galleries, a few boutiques, and a few hotels.
The buildings are a mix of old and new. The historic buildings include descriptive signs with pictures and QR codes in the windows. It will make you want to check out the museums on the edge of town.
Check Out a Museum
The Museum of the American West and the Fremont County Pioneer Museum are located adjacent to one another. The Museum of the American West is an outdoor museum with a collection of historic buildings. I wandered through here one day while it was closed, but you can get a tour and see some of the insides of the buildings when it is open.
It costs $6 for a ticket to the Fremont County Pioneer Museum which is two floors with four rooms. The bar on from one of the historic hotels is on display downstairs along with the current show Called Hoorah for the Cowboy which features vintage engravings circa 1867-1911.
You will also find Indian heritage, typical items from frontier life, a barber shop set up and even the signature of Butch Cassidy in the Lander prison log after he was arrested for buying a stolen horse. I liked seeing the outlaw exhibit because my dad loved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Appreciate the Arts
In addition to the current Hoorah for the Cowboy art show, be sure to enjoy the aforementioned art galleries too. There is an artist coop located on Main Street along with a gallery for the Eagle Bronze Foundry which has been in business since 1985!
Feed the Fish
Have kids along with you and art isn’t there thing? Well most kids like to feed the fish. Just a short drive out of town will take you to Sinks Canyon State Park. Start off at the Visitors Center and watch the river disappear underground into a cavern.
Then take the short ¼ mile walk downstream (or drive) and check out the rise loaded with giant trout! Bring along your own bread or quarter to buy some fish food. Interesting fact: it takes 2 hours for the water to make it to the rise. Find out more on my post about Sinks Canyon State Park.
No kids? North of town is the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel. Try your luck at gambling and stay the night.
Places to Stay
Other places to stay in Lander are the Frontier Lodge, which is known for the best breakfast in town or the Mill House a cute, 4 room Bed & Breakfast located next to Lander’s most popular restaurants.
Places to Eat
There are some good restaurants in Lander with a great atmosphere. One block off Main Street is Lincoln Street Bakery which has a small menu along with excellent pastries. My buddy Chas, in Jackson, asked me to bring some his way. I forgot to snap a photo of these giant, tasty treats.
The owner of Lincoln Street Bakery also owns the Lander Bar, Gannet Grill, Scream Shack, Cowfish, and Lander Brewing Co. Find a seat on the outdoor patio while listening to music, eating a burger, and putting back a cold beer!
Another popular breakfast restaurant in Lander with a patio is The Middle Fork. It was packed when I dropped in on an otherwise quiet morning on Main Street.
Find a Festival
If you don’t want to sit down at a restaurant to eat, check out the farmers market on Saturdays (June 4- Oct 8) or find a festival. When I visited the last weekend of June, I went to Fort Washakie for the Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Pow Wow. The artistry and colors were amazing.
Other festivals throughout the summer include the International Climbers’ Festival, Pioneer Days and Rodeo, South Pass City Gold Rush Days, Northern Arapahoe Pow Wow, and Fremont County Fair and Rodeo, just to name a few!
There is also live music, HotNotes, CoolNites, every other Monday night hosted by Central Wyoming College.
Take A Side Trip
While there is a lot to do in the compact area of Lander, if you want to take a side trip consider one of these:
Visit Sacajawea’s gravesite. The cemetery is located in Fort Washakie just 15 minutes away from Lander. The colorful cemetery with grave mounding is pretty interesting if you like that sort of thing. For more details on Sacajawea, visit my post Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Pow Wow.
National Museum of Military Vehicles
Also north of Lander is the National Museum of Military Vehicles. It is an hour drive and at the bare minimum requires two hours to walk through the 1.5 mile, indoor maze of war weaponry. This is a private collection and the museum, which costs civilians $20 for a two-day pass, is Smithsonian worthy.
It includes civil war guns as well as all sorts of war weaponry and vehicles from WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The stories told of different soldiers are remarkable. One drew me to tears. The museum looks like it belongs on the mall in Washington, DC rather than in rural Wyoming. It is free to all active military and veterans and is definitely worth a half-day visit.
The Loop Road to Atlantic City and South Pass City
On the south of side Lander is Atlantic City, a historic mining town that was established in 1868. It is located off the Hwy 28, which is also part of the Loop Road, a 7o mile scenic drive which includes Sinks Canyon, Lake Louis, the Red Canyon and more.
Atlantic City has a population of around 57 and is near where the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail traveled over South Pass. It features several historic buildings along with places to eat for lunch. Four miles away is South Pass City which boasts 40 preserved sites. Another claim to fame, is it is home to the first female to hold judicial office, Justice of the Peace Esther Hobart Morris. She drafted a bill to give women in the Wyoming Territory the right to vote.
And if you have Spotify, you can listen to the 2022 Wyoming Road Trip Playlist provided by the Wyomingartscouncil.org
Camping in Lander
Between Lander and Atlantic City there is tons of camping, both dispersed and designated sites, so take your pick of places to stay and enjoy at least on long weekend in Lander. ETB