Larry and I have passed through Pinedale, Wyoming numerous times on our way to Jackson Hole and Alpine. For some reason, however, we never spent time exploring the area. During our Wyoming Labor Day Weekend there, we learned that we had really been missing out on seeing the numerous lakes in the area. There are also many hiking spots in and around the Wind River Mountain Range.
For this trip, we decided to stay in lodging versus staying in a campground with our Micro Minnie FLX 2108DS travel trailer. We really wanted to bring it, but the drive from Grand Lake to Pinedale would have been close to seven hours. We felt that was a really long drive for a short trip, so we elected to just stay in a local lodging establishment. Please continue reading about our Wyoming Labor Day weekend adventure!
Sept 3 ~ When we arrived in town, we stopped at the Great Outdoor Shop to get some information about the lakes. The ones that we had discussed were: Fremont Lake; Green River Lakes; Half Moon Lake; New Fork Lakes. After some deliberation, we decided to pursue Fremont Lake and Green River Lakes, with high hopes of also kayaking Half Moon Lake. Our plan for that day was Fremont Lake.
The drive to Fremont Lake from Pinedale is only about ten minutes. The road passes through Fremont Lake Campground. The guy at the store suggested parking at Sylvan Bay, but we ended up parking the Tahoe at the boat launch at Fremont Lake Campground and putting the kayak in there instead. At this parking area, there is a restroom facility.
Fremont Lake is the second largest lake in Wyoming behind Yellowstone Lake. And, it is the 7th deepest in the country. Approximately twelve miles long and a mile wide, the waters are pristine and are surrounded by the Bridger National Forest.
We started paddling north along the eastern shore. This side of the lake is forested, with many alcoves for camping or picnicking. I constantly marveled at the sheer clarity of the lake, as we could see at least 20 feet down (or more) in some areas. It was so clear and beautiful!
We continued paddling toward the north end of the lake, into Moosehead Bay and circled the island before crossing over to the west, and paddled along the western shoreline. Half of the shoreline on this side is also forested, but from the peninsula on the south of box bay and drawing a line across the lake to Fremont Lake Campground, the southern end is encompassed with sagebrush. It is quite strange seeing such a stark cut off point for the tree line northern end of the lake.
Thus far, we had felt fortunate that the wind had been calm. At the point when we turned around, we felt just a slight breeze suddenly kick in, so instead of continuing too far along the other side of the lake, we crossed over and paddled along the eastern side again, back toward our starting point.
That breeze, however, suddenly vanished so we continued paddling past the boat launch. We enjoyed paddling right up until the sun had set behind the ridgeline. It had been a perfect paddling day, and we were delighted that we had the opportunity to paddle as far as we had, considering we didn’t start our adventure until about 1:00 p.m. We paddled a total of 16.35 miles.
Sept 4 ~ The plan for the day was to explore Green River Lakes. Outside of town, you turn onto Wyoming 352 and travel about 29 miles before the road turns into a gravel and forest service road 650 (also known as Green River Lakes Road). It is very, very bumpy and you will travel on it 19 miles. There are numerous places in this area for boondocking (i.e. setting up camp in a spot that isn’t a “campground”). We parked the Tahoe at the boat launch and eagerly took off in the kayak.
We started paddling east before making a turn to the south. The lake was pure glass, with not one single ripple. It had been such a peaceful paddling experience ~ pure bliss as we stared up toward the mountains. When we had reached the end of the first part of the lake, we paddled into the river for just a few moments when the winds kicked in with such a sudden extreme force that we were unable to continue forward. The current from the river pushed us one way, while the wind pushed us the other way. We were literally paddling with all our might yet not moving at all.
We quickly turned the kayak around and paddled around the other side of the lake. It was quite a difference experience than earlier. We had to focus so hard on paddling against wind gusts of 20+ mph that we were not able to enjoy the scenery around us much; the tranquil vibe was entirely gone. We paddled a total of 4.6 miles.
Once back on the beach, we were wind blown and a little fatigued. After a quick lunch, we headed out onto the Highline Trail, which leads to the upper portion of the Green River Lakes that we had attempted to kayak to. The trail on the east side is a dirt trail completely exposed to the sun; the trail on the opposite side of the lake is nestled with the trees. Larry didn’t want to hike on the forested side because then he wouldn’t have a clear view of the mountains. So we set off onto the hot, dusty trail open to the sun!
After about a mile in, we turned around because it was just too hot for me to continue. The sun was beating down on me and I could feel a headache coming on. Anyone who reads our posts knows that I am not a summer hiker. And, I was really upset when I saw people hiking on this trail with their dogs because those temperatures easily make canines susceptible to heatstroke, regardless of how much water they drink.
I felt compelled to mention this to a hiker whose dog was lying down, panting profusely underneath a tree. Her response to me was, “Oh, really?” And, to make matters worse, her dog was wearing a pack on it’s back (a border collie). Even now as I write this post, I can still clearly see that poor dog’s steel gray eyes gazing up into mine, pleadingly. I will not be able to forget that for a long time to come, either. My heart broke, and I just hope that the pup will be okay. My motto with regards to taking care of dogs is this: “Dogs rely upon US to make responsible choices for them.” Enough said.
Sept 5 ~ In the morning, we went to Teton Village at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to do some biking on the wonderful paved trails there. (Parking in the ski resort’s parking lot is free but it fills up very quickly). We started out biking toward the Granite Canyon entrance of Grand Teton National Park. We didn’t have our park pass with us, so we turned around and biked south on the path.
The winds had blasted strongly against us the whole way, and I sneered each time a person riding an ebike easily glided past us while my little legs pedaled with all their might against that wind! The path is parallel along the road, going past Fireside RV Resort, and branches off into some farmland and neighborhoods. We had biked on the trail through the farmland and neighborhoods on a prior trip.
Our destination this day was to bike to the bridge near Rendezvous Park so Larry could take some pictures. Right before the bridge, there are restrooms and a parking area for people to put rafts, kayak, boards, etc., into the Snake River. After Larry got his photos, we turned around and headed back to the Tahoe. We had a quick lunch and then took off for Alpine. We biked a total of 18.55 miles.
In prior posts, we have mentioned how wonderful Broulim’s grocery store is in Alpine. We love going there! Their bakery is phenomenal (they have the BEST custard-filled donuts), they have a lot of in-house made foods, their Chinese food buffet is delicious, and the people who work at Broulim’s are so friendly! However, this time we went there for one very specific reason: roasted hatch chilies.
Each summer, they have a roaster outside the store where they roast fresh hatch chilis and then package them for purchase. When we were in Alpine last summer, we had purchased a few packages of the chilis to take home with us. We used them in soups and casseroles, and the flavor that comes from the fresh roasted hatch chilis is unreal. That being said, we were eager to buy as many packages as we could. However, we were too late. The timeframe when they roast the chilis had occurred a few weeks prior. Huge bummer. ☹️
After leaving the store, we drove along the Palisades Reservoir and into Irwin and Swan Valley, Idaho. It is extremely disheartening to see the reservoir so low again this year. We were in Alpine last summer (and winter), and the reservoir is even lower this year than it was last. But that certainly did not deter people from boon docking on the sand, far down the beach in order to reach the water.
In a few of our other posts, I have mentioned how much we love the food scene in Jackson Hole. We have been there many times, and while we have a few places that are our favorites, that night we tried a place that we had not yet been to: Thai Me Up Restaurant & Melvin Brewery. I could go into great detail describing our food. But to keep it short, I will say this: our meal was fantastic! If you are interested in restaurant recommendation for Jackson Hole, please reach out to us. We can provide you with a list of amazing places to eat there!
Sept 6 ~ We got up early, with high hopes of kayaking around Half Moon Lake before the drive back home. Unfortunately, the flags were already flapping in the breeze and the winds were projected to continue increasing significantly throughout the day. With disappointment hung in our hearts, we ate breakfast and drove back home. We just felt very fortunate that we had been able to achieve a great paddle on our first day in Pinedale.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If paddling, boating and fishing are your thing, then Pinedale, Wyoming is a great place to visit! We are long-distance paddlers who enjoy kayaking and stand up paddleboarding to the extreme. We greatly look forward to returning to Pinedale so that we can explore more of the lakes in the area. Next time, we hope to paddle Half Moon Lake and New Fork Lakes.
SOME OF THE GEAR USED: