When it comes to American mountain ranges, you can’t do much better than. theWind River Range. Situated in northern Wyoming far from major cities, this 100-mile range contains the largest glacier system in the Rockies, along with dozens of 13,000 foot+ peaks. It’s capped by Gannett Peak, the glaciated tallest peak in Wyoming, one of the most difficult state high points to ascend. Here’s a primer on the Wind River Range mountains including approach information and 7 of the best peaks to summit.
An Intro to the Wind River Range Mountains
The Wind River Range mountains are very different from peaks in Colorado. First, the range is extremely remote. Lacking a major mining boom like the Colorado Silver Boom, few access roads pierce the range, requiring long backpacking trips to penetrate the range and reach the highest peaks. As a more northern range, you can also expect more snow later in the year. Many peaks are surrounded by glaciers, requiring special skills and gear to ascend. However most of all, you can expect peace and quiet in the Wind River Range Mountains.
Wind River Range Mountains: Access Points
You can approach the Wind Rivers from either the East or West. Unlike the Colorado Rockies, there are no major roads that cross the range, so you have to pick a direction to start from and enter the range from there. The western side of the range is more developed but is busier as a result. The eastern side has some complicated access issues in some areas due to local reservation land. Ultimately, either way works for most of the Wind River Range’s major destinations and peaks. Click here to learn more about trailhead options and access points on both sides of the peaks.
Seven Great Wind River Range Mountains
Gannett Peak - 13,809 feet
Gannett Peak is the king of the Wind River Range Mountains. As the tallest peak in Wyoming, it’s one of the busiest places in the entire range. It’s a third class climb to the top of the summit, while other routes require glacier travel and technical gear. It takes most groups 3-5 days to summit the peak using the southwests couloir route. However, if you want a peak with more solitude, I would keep reading.
Fremont Peak - 13,750 feet
Fremont Peak was first climbed in 1842 by John Fremont and Kit Carson. As the second tallest peak in the Wind River Range mountains, it’s also a very busy area with a lot of hikers and climbers. Nearly all mountaineers use the standard southwest buttress route. to reach the summit. Located very near Gannett Peak, it’s easy to snag both peaks if you givee yoursellf enough time.
Mount Warren - 13,722 feet
Compared to Fremont and Gannett Peak, Mount Warren gets much less attention as Wyoming’s fourth tallest mountain. As such, there’s no official standard route developed, though most who climb it today use a class 3 route with vague route descriptions. Between that and the peak’s remote location, this is a peak for experienced mountaineers.
Mount Febbas - 13,468 feet
Mount Febbas has the distinction of being the tallest summit located off of the continental divide. This has led many to claim it’s got the best summit views of any major Wind River Range mountains. Regardless of whether that’s true, its West Gully route offers a relatively easy class 2 ascent. From the top you’re treated to views of North America’s largest glaciers.
Mount Helen - 13,620 feet
Mount Helen presents a number of challenging alpine climbing routes, with the easiest option being a class 3 route. It sees a dozen or more climbing party each year, attracted by the challenge of its terrain, rock, snow and ice. The standard East Ridge Route is a tough class 4 climb best attempted by experienced mountaineers.
Jackson Peak - 13,517 feet
Jackson Peak, like Jackson Hole to the west, is named after the early western photographer William Henry Jackson. It’s a much less busy peak, with a standard route up the Southeast Ridge that’s rated as a class 3 challenge. The long approach and snow & ice make this substantially harder than a Colorado class 3 climb, however. Be prepared.
Flagstone Peak - 13,450 feet
Flagstone is another easier class 2 peak in the Wind River Range mountains. You’ll find less exposure and sketchy climbing compared to the other peaks on this list. The unranked Pedestal Peak shares a short traverse with Flagstone, and many choose to summit them both during their climb. It’s a great intro climb for those new to the Wind Rivers.
The Wind River Range Mountains are a Mountaineering Paradise!
Most people who travel to the Wind River Range mountains express awe at what they find. Towers of granite carved by ice, magnificent glaciers that dwarf mountains, and solitude unmatched anywhere else in America’s mountains. You could spend a lifetime exploring the peaks and crags of the Winds. Get started with these seven recommendations and discover why so many have fallen in love with this amazing mountain range.