Pinedale sits in the sagebrush sea of the Upper Green River Valley, with the towering Wind River Range to the east, the Gros Ventre Range to the north, and the Salt River and Wyoming Ranges to the west. Numerous lakes and streams make an oasis of an otherwise dry, high desert landscape. The abundance of water has made the area hospitable to humans for at least 9,000 years, according to archeological evidence. Numerous groups of Paleo-Indians appear to have spent summers here. The Shoshone Indians were the most recent native inhabitants, arriving at least a few hundred years prior to the arrival of whites in the 1800s.
The first of the Anglo visitors were fur trappers, seeking out beaver in what was then some of the Rocky Mountain’s best habitat. The fur trade was at its peak between 1820 to 1840, fueled mainly by demand for beaver fur hats in the Eastern US and Europe. A site near Daniel, Wyoming, about 10 miles west of Pinedale, played host to six annual fur trappers’ rendezvous, where the “mountain men” converged to trade furs for other items, like whiskey, traps, and blankets. Due to changing fashion trends and the near-depletion of the beaver population, the fur trade was short-lived. However, this period was pivotal in encouraging westward expansion. The trappers and mountain men blazed the way into unknown territory for the many pioneers that would follow on their way to Oregon, California, and Utah in the Great Westward Migration. Many of the routes used passed through the Pinedale area, but still, the area was not settled.
It wasn’t until the 1870s, when the completion of the transcontinental railroad across southern Wyoming made cattle ranching feasible for the region, that ranchers and cowboys became the area’s first settlers. The railroad also created a need for timber, and “tie hacks” used the large stands of tall, straight lodgepole pines in the surrounding forest to make railroad ties, and floated them down the Green River to the railroad. By the late 1800s, visitors were coming to hunt and fish in the nearby mountains, creating something of an outfitting industry. In 1904, three men established the town of Pinedale by agreeing to donate land to build and operate a general store that served these industries. In 1912, the town incorporated, gaining the distinction it still prides itself on today: being the farthest incorporated town from a railroad in the US. Throughout the 20th century, this remote, sparsely populated community sustained itself with tourism and agriculture.
Big changes came in the late 1990s, when technological advances allowed for oil and natural gas exploration and extraction in the oil-rich fields south of Pinedale. Huge reserves became accessible, and the booming industry caused a significant population surge between 2000 and 2010, from 1,400 to 2,200 people. But Pinedale still retains its frontier-town atmosphere – locals value their independence and self-sufficiency. Friendly, welcoming, and relaxed, the town supports a diverse mélange of energy industry workers, ranchers, artists and outdoor enthusiasts. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the unique blend of Old West-meets-New West this mountain town offers, along with its fantastic scenery and outdoor recreation.
Population: 2,027 (2010 Census)
The Essentials: Where to Stay and Eat
Pinedale Campground: 204 S Jackson Ave, (307) 367-4555
Wagon Wheel Motel: 407 US-191, (307) 367-2871
Log Cabin Motel: 49 E Magnolia St, (307) 367-4579
Pinedale’s Cozy Cabins: 66 N Madison Ave, (307) 367-3401
Sundance Motel: 148 E. Pine Street, (307) 367-4789
More options are listed here.
Patio Grill: 35 W Pine St, (307) 367-4611
Wind River Brewing Company: 402 W Pine St, (307) 367-2337
Obo’s Market & Deli: 212 E Pine St, (307) 367-6717
Boondock’s Pizza & More: 23 W Pine St, (307) 367-2636
Check out more options here.
Ridley’s Family Market: 341 E Pine St, (307) 367-2131: Grocery, Deli, Pharmacy, ACE Hardware
Blue Planet Foods: 432 Pine St, (307) 367-3833: Natural/organic foods and bulk items
Obo’s Market & Deli: 212 E Pine St, (307) 367-6717: Specialty grocery
Heart & Soul Bakery and Café: 27 E Pine St, (307) 367-4415
Mountain Mocha: 812 W Pine St, (307) 231-0061
Other Resources: Gear, Information, etc.
The Great Outdoor Shop: 332 W Pine St, (307) 367-2440
ACE Hardware: 341 E Pine St, (307) 367-2131
Sublette County Library: 155 S Tyler Ave, (307) 367-4114
Sublette County Visitor Center: 19 E Pine St, (888) 285-7282
Several local businesses, like Heart & Soul Bakery & Café, also offer free Wifi to customers.
US Post Office: 413 Pine St, (307) 367-2650, Mon – Fri, 8:45 AM – 4:45 PM. Sat: 9 AM – 11 AM. Closed Sundays.
Moosely Mail & More: 34 N Franklin Ave, Pinedale, WY 82941. (307) 367-7234.
Will accept packages from UPS, Fedex, and USPS. Can hold packages for no more than a week. $1 fee per package. Address to your name at above address. Mon – Fri: 9 AM – 5:30 PM.
Pinedale Aquatic Center (PAC): 535 N Tyler Ave, (307) 367-2832. $5 daily admission fee. Includes access to gym, pool, rock climbing wall, etc.
Clean Wash Laundromat: 1308 Wilson St, (307) 367-9800
Sublette County Visitor Center: 19 E Pine St, (888) 285-7282. Mon – Fri: 9 AM – 5 PM.
Transportation & Trail Access
The Jackson Hole Airport and Rock Springs Airport are the closest to Pinedale, and the Great Outdoor Transportation Company (GOTCO) operated by the Great Outdoor Shop can provide shuttle services to both. Greyhound buses can also get you to Rock Springs.
GOTCO also arranges rides to trailheads.
Continental Divide Trail Access
Green River Lakes Trailhead
The drive to Green River Lakes is a beautiful introduction to the Wind River Range, and you won’t make it far down the trail before pulling out your camera to capture the iconic Squaretop Mountain hulking behind the pristine lakes. The CDT/Highline Trail (#094) follows the upper reaches of the Green River’s headwaters, and other trails provide access to Clear Creek Falls, Clear Creek Natural Bridge, Slide Lake, and Porcupine Creek. Fishing in this area, as in much of the Wind River Range, is excellent, and kayakers often paddle the calm Green River Lakes.
Directions: From Pinedale, head west on US 191/Pine St. In about six miles, turn right on WY-352 to Cora, and continue onto Green River Lakes Road, which turns into FR 650. Travel time is about 1.5 hours for this scenic, 50-mile drive, about half of which is on gravel road.
Elkhart Park Trailhead
Phenomenal fishing, Wyoming’s highest point, Gannett Peak, and abundant alpine lakes lure hikers to this trailhead. Chances are you won’t be alone on the Pole Creek Trail, which leads to most destinations, including Photographers Point, 4.5 miles from the trailhead, and the CDT (10 miles). Its popularity is justified – it’s a relatively easy access point to some of the Wind River Range’s finest scenery.
Directions: From Pinedale, take the fully paved Fremont Lake Road/Skyline Drive to its end, about 15 miles.
Big Sandy Trailhead
Though remote, this trailhead is a popular starting point for accessing the Cirque of the Towers and any number of scenic mountain lakes. The CDT/Fremont Trail (#096) climbs gradually through lodgepole, spruce, and fir to Dad’s Lake (5.5 miles from the trailhead), and the high country beyond. Trail #099 leads to Big Sandy Lake, the Cirque of the Towers, and Temple Lake. Overnight loop hike options abound.
Directions: To get to the trailhead, head east on US 191/Pine St from Pinedale. At Boulder, turn left on WY-353. In 18 miles, the pavement ends. Go straight at the next junction, and turn left at the next junction. After 7 miles, take another left and stay on the main road to the signed trailhead. This drive takes about 2 hours.
Note: Mosquitoes are notorious in the “Winds”, and are typically most abundant in July. Bring repellent and a bug headnet to preserve your sanity.
You’ve got lots of other hiking options in Pinedale – go here for more.
Events & Attractions
Soundcheck Summer Music Series: Various dates throughout the summer. Musicians from across the country play free evening shows in downtown Pinedale’s American Legion Park.
4th of July Celebration: Free community picnic, live music as part of the Soundcheck Summer Music Series, and fireworks at American Legion Park.
Green River Rendezvous: Second full weekend in July. Pinedale’s signature event and a tradition since 1936. A pageant re-enacts the wild West days of the original Green River Rendezvous in the 1800s. Rodeos, cultural events, live music, food, beer and entertainment ensure you’ll be able to drink, laugh, and get just as rowdy as the mountain men did at the original Rendezvous.
Wind River Mountain Festival: July 22-24, 2016. Inaugural event celebrating Pinedale as the first CDT Gateway Community in Wyoming! Workshops, speakers, camping, hiking, craft beer, live music, yoga, raffles, and much more. Demo and learn about gear from companies like Patagonia, Marmot, Salomon, and Osprey.
Sandy Beach, on the pristine lake’s southeast shore, is a great place to laze a sunny day away, or go kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. (Grab gear rentals from the Great Outdoor Shop!)
Path of the Pronghorn:
From mid-April to Mid-May, and mid-October to mid-November, witness one of the world’s most significant wildlife migrations as Pronghorn antelope move en masse to their summer range in Grand Teton National Park and back to their winter range in the Pinedale area. Jackson Hole and the Teton Valley provide abundant forage in the summer, but its huge amounts of winter snowfall can be catastrophic for antelope. Instead, they winter in the Upper Green River Valley, where the snow depths are more manageable and hardy grasses provide winter forage.
Museum of the Mountain Man:
Explore relics of the fur trade era, and its iconic representatives like Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, and the men made famous by the 2015 film “The Revenant”. Also showcases Native American artifacts tracing back 7,000 years.