By Michael Lanza

On a cool early morning last August while backpacking the Wind River High Route, I hiked in the shadow of tall mountains to Jackass Pass at 10,790 feet—a spot I’ve stood on at least a few times before, overlooking the incomparable Cirque of the Towers in the Winds—and affirmed a truth about that patch of rocks and dirt: It still possessed the capacity to take my breath away and make my heart speed up a little bit (although the climb to the pass may have had something to do with that).

It was a comfort to see that the effect the Wind River Range has on me had not changed.

Despite lying just south of two of America’s most beloved national parks—Grand Teton and Yellowstone—Wyoming’s Wind River Range exists in a sort of odd state of exalted partial anonymity. Backpackers who go there almost invariably leave feeling they have discovered a mountain paradise (because they have). Yet, the Winds remain off the radar of so many people who enjoy putting on a backpack and walking for days through mountains.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker hiking into Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.
” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ width=”900″ height=”509″ src=”″ alt=”A backpacker hiking into Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.” class=”wp-image-42481″ srcset=” 1024w, 300w, 768w, 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Todd Arndt backpacking into Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.

After several backpacking trips in the Winds, I find myself drawn back ever more strongly; I’m planning to return this summer to explore a new area of it (new for me). And I’ve hiked through many mountain ranges across the country over more than three decades of backpacking, including the 10 years I spent as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog. I rank the Winds among “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips.”

This story will attempt to convey the many good reasons every avid backpacker should hike in the Wind River Range. Give it a read, I think you’ll be convinced. Click any photo to read about that trip. Please share your thoughts on this article—or your favorite Wind River Range hikes—in the comments section below
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