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Shoshone National Forest

Breccia Falls

Shoshone National Forest was the first national forest in the country.  On March 3, 1891, authorization was granted to create forest reserves as a way to protect forests and water flow of streams on public lands.  The first reserve established on March 30, 1891, was Shoshone as a part of the Yellowstone Park Timberline Reserve.  The forest reserves were later changed to national forests.

Shoshone National Forest consists of 2.4 million acres of land of which 1.4 million acres have been designated as wilderness areas.  The forest includes portions of the Absaroka, Beartooth, and Wind River Mountain Ranges as well as part of or all of the Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Popo Agie, and Fitzpatrick Wilderness Areas.

The diversity of the forest is evident as you travel from the lowest elevation of 4,600 feet at the mouth of the Clarks Fork Canyon to the highest elevation of 13,804 feet on Gannett Peak.  The Shoshone National Forest ranges from sagebrush meadows to coniferous forests to rugged granite mountain peaks.  The rocky plateaus, mountain peaks, glaciers, and canyons along with the numerous lakes, ponds, and streams provide a diverse environment for vegetation and wildlife.

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Montane, subalpine, and alpine vegetation zones are represented throughout the forest.  Juniper, ponderosa pine, whitebark pine, lodgepole pine, limber pine, Englemann spruce, subalpine fir, Douglas fir, and aspen are some of the trees which grow in wilderness areas of the forest.  Several rare plants such as red manzanita, shoshonea, and narrowleaf goldenrod can be found in the wilderness areas.  Some of the wildlife include deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, black bear, mountain goat, bobcat, coyote, wolf, mountain lion, marmot, pika, Pregrine falcon, bald eagle, golden eagle, hawks, and six type of trout including cutthroat, brown, golden, rainbow, graying, and brook.

The Shoshone National Forest has a rich history.  Indian tribes such as the Arapohoe, Blackfeet, Commanche, Crow, Nez Perce, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone, and Sioux lived, hunted, traveled, traded, and fought in the area.  Mountain men such as John Colter, Jim Bridger, and Tom Fitzpatrick hunted and lived in the area as well.  Kirwin, a former mining town, provides a glimpse into the past.  Several remains of the mining town can be found in the ghost town at the southern end of the forest.

Grazing, timber production, minerals, and recreation are uses of Shoshone National Forest.  Some of the recreational activities include hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, rafting, and viewing wildlife.  Hundreds of alpine lakes can be found above the timberline.  About 11,700 acres of lakes and 4,900 acres of streams can be found throughout the area.  Wetlands consist of an additional 51,000 acres.

Shoshone National Forest is a beautiful, rugged area.  The wolf and grizzly bear have been reestablished in wilderness areas.  The forest  management has conserved the timber, habitats and water flow in the  forest.  The first national forest established over a hundred years ago continues to provide a place to enjoy nature at its best.

Breccia Falls

One of the many scenic vistas in Shoshone National Forest provides a spectacular view of Brooks Lake Creek Falls with Pinnacle Buttes in the background.  Pinnacle Buttes is also called Breccia Cliffs which is part of the Absaroka Range near Togwotee Pass.  The conifers are prevalent along the creek and waterfall.

Resources

Online Highways Wyoming

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All Photos ©2003 Debbie Cearley


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