Located 35 miles southeast of Cody, Wyoming, is the Wood River Country, curled up against the mighty Absaroka Mountain Range. For gorgeous mountain riding and surprising history, Wood River is a worthwhile destination for horsemen.
The Wood River drainage is located in the Shoshone National Forest, the first national forest established in the United States in 1891.
The Shoshone National Forest is called the “horse forest,” because so much of the land is accessible only by foot or horse. Here, backcountry visitors will experience a vast, untamed land, virtually unchanged since the days of early explorers.
Our exploration of this country took us from the cowboy town of Meeteetse, up Highway 290, then on Forest Service Rd. 200. Finally, we arrived at the South Fork Wood River trailhead.
At this trailhead, there are horse facilities and a turnaround. However, in exchange for a bit of adventure, you can have a beautiful, private camp by driving across the Wood River and then following a small road. There are several campsites within a short distance.
There’s no bridge across the river, so before your cross, check out the crossing point and water level, and evaluate your hauling rig. Four-wheel-drive is helpful.
One fascinating trail ride is to the area’s unique rock spires. This ride goes up the South Fork of Wood River. With ears forward and eyes alert, our Missouri Fox Trotter geldings, Buddy and Scout, seemed to enjoy working their way up the trail, which crossed the creek several times.
Enjoy this bonus photo album from our trip! (For more on trail riding in the region, see Postcard From … Wyoming, The Trail Rider, July/August ’10.)
Fording the Wood River on the road leading to campsites at the South Fork Wood River trailhead.
Kent and Charlene Krone, and their horses Buddy (right) and Scout enjoy a morning at camp at the South Fork Wood River trailhead.
Kent Krone and Buddy starting out on the South Fork Wood River trail.
Buddy grazes among aspens, doing his best imitation of Bev Doolittle paintings!
Charlene Krone and Scout work their way up the South Fork Wood River trail.
Kent Krone and Buddy near one of several rock spires on the South Fork Wood River trail.
Charlene Krone and Scout on the Aspen Creek trail with views up the Wood River valley. In the distance are peaks of the Absaroka Range.
Kent Krone and Buddy at a high point on the Aspen Creek trail.
Charlene Krone and Scout cross a stream while riding up Trail #656 from the Wood River trailhead.
Charlene Krone and Scout farther up Trail #656 from the Wood River trailhead.
Kent Krone and Buddy on Trail #656 from the Wood River trailhead. This trail, which often requires route finding, provides scenic vistas and abundant wildflowers.
The Brown Mountain Campground. You’re allowed to camp here with horses outside the campground fence.
The main lodge at the Double DEE Dude Ranch. The once-bustling ranch is now deserted.
The main fireplace in the lodge at the Double DEE Dude Ranch.
A spiral staircase at the Double DEE Dude Ranch.
Kent Krone stands in the remains of Double DEE’s old swimming pool. This pool was quite a luxury for the 1930s, providing a cool swim at 9,000 feet elevation.
Charlene Krone and Scout cross the Wood River to ride upstream toward the ghost town of Kirwin.
Buddy and Scout graze during a break while riding up the Wood River toward Kirwin.
Kent Krone and Buddy head up the Wood River trail above the Double DEE Dude Ranch.
Buddy and Scout in Meeteetse, Wyoming, on the National Day of the Cowboy.
Wyoming historian and the Krones’ friend, Clay Gibbons, and Charlene Krone. Gibbons was the keynote speaker for the National Day of the Cowboy.
Parade in Meeteetse, Wyoming, for the National Day of the Cowboy.
Charlene Krone riding Scout in the parade in Meeteetse.
The Cowboy Bar in Meeteetse, built in 1893. The outlaw Butch Cassidy was arrested here for horse stealing in 1894.
Kent Krone (left) and Butch Cassidy’s great-nephew, Bill Bentenson. Bentenson’s grandmother, Lulu, was Butch Cassidy’s sister.