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North Absaroka Wilderness

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Snow banners billowing across Republic Mountain.
Library image #1975: Snow banners billowing across Republic Mountain


The United States Congress designated the North Absaroka Wilderness (map) in 1964 and it now has a total of 346,320 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Wyoming and is managed by the Forest Service.


Yellowstone National Park lies along the western boundary of North Absaroka Wilderness, which also shares a border with Montana and contains one of the areas least desecrated by humanity's insatiable thirst for development, a fact evidenced throughout the Lower 48. Several summits rise above 10,000 feet with the highest point on Dead Indian Peak at 12,216 feet. Dead Indian Peak stands about eight miles from Dead Indian Meadows and about 15 miles from other landmarks, such as Dead Indian Pass, Dead Indian Hill, Dead Indian Creek, and Dead Indian Campground. It makes you wonder if this region was hazardous to Native Americans. This remote and rugged country contains large regions of virtually inaccessible terrain. Volcanic in origin, the land is dissected by numerous creeks forming huge drainages (containing tons of erodible topsoil) that turn into frenzied rivers of mud during summer rainstorms. There are 217 miles of rough and minimally marked trails, and hikers run a high risk of getting lost or hurt. The Wilderness receives few visitors, especially before hunting season opens. The trails are generally long, steep, and narrow. They tend to follow drainages and have few places to cross from one drainage to another except at the headwaters. From easily accessible Pahaska Campground, a trail runs north along Crow Creek to meet other trails. Only a few lakes exist, but the streams contain cutthroat, brown, brook, and rainbow trout. The region is home to grizzly bears, so precautions are in order. Big-game hunters come by the hundreds for bighorn sheep, elk, and moose. Marmots and pikas reign on numerous talus slopes. Summers are relatively dry, and flies and gnats may disturb your serenity. Mosquitoes are generally few, I'm happy to report, and far between. Some of the trails will take you far from water. A limited number of appealing campsites has created some overuse at the desirable places.

Planning to Visit the North Absaroka Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the North Absaroka Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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