The United States Congress designated the Encampment River Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 10,240 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Wyoming
and is managed by the Forest Service.
Here in the northernmost extension of the Southern Rocky Mountains, the Encampment River flows north out of Colorado, past the town of Encampment and into the North Platte River. Along part of the river's canyon lies Wyoming's smallest Wilderness, approximately 16 square miles, a strip less than one mile wide in the southern portion that widens to about five miles near the northern boundary. Throughout the canyon, the river runs from wild rapids to peacefully placid stretches, and is home to brook, rainbow, and brown trout (the fishing can be worth the hike). Sagebrush grows on the open slopes, and the canyon is full of riparian vegetation. The Encampment River Trail runs the length of this narrow, rugged river canyon, one of the main attractions of the Wilderness. The lower five miles are relatively easy to hike, although the terrain becomes increasingly difficult in the remaining 10 upper miles. The trail receives moderate use by hikers. Along the way you'll pass ruins of old cabins and mining operations. You may see members of a large wildlife population: mule deer, elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The river runs wildly over rocks, creating rapids that only expert kayakers dare to attempt.