Beaver Park, Wind River Range: Sept. 1-3


rope mule
Jan 17, 2012
Over the Labor Day weekend, drclef, Nick S. and I headed back up north together. This time, to the Green River Lakes region in the northern Wind River Range. Our goal for the weekend was to basecamp in Beaver Park and spend a couple of days exploring the legendary Green River just a few miles below it's source.

View larger map.
We left SLC at a pretty decent hour on Friday, and made good time through the high desert of southwestern Wyoming. The sky was shaping up nicely, which was a blessing because I was yearning for a good shoot. We car camped along the Green River, approximately 5 miles below the trailhead. This vantage was found about 50 yards from our camp. Not a bad start to the weekend!

We woke up to some damp and chilly air on Saturday morning. Were those the footsteps of fall I heard approaching in the middle of the night? Perhaps. I felt the first autumnal sigh of the season in those early dawn hours. We packed up fairly quickly and headed for the trailhead, wondering if we could outrace those looming clouds that were chasing us from the west. After getting sprinkled on by a brief shower at the trailhead, the skies cleared out a bit for us. Above the second Green River Lake:

Above the Lakes, the Green River slalomed graciously through an open, placid valley. Having spent a good deal of time exploring some of the desert segments of the Green River, I found it quite intriguing to be finally walking along the banks of this mighty aquatic artery so close to it's alpine source.

Clouds orchestrating a destructive ensemble in the distance:

We made it to our first camp, right on the northern edge of Beaver Park, just a few moments before the storm hit. It got loud.

The rest of the evening was a total washout. The electricity eventually left the sky, but the clouds didn't. Holding out hope for some kind of sunset, we only found more rain. It precipitated on and off throughout most of the night, or so it seemed at least. So it was with pleasant surprise that I awoke to clear skies at 6am. Out into the over-saturated landscape I went with every article of clothing on--the biting dawn air was sharp and piercing. Summer, vanished without a trace. Only a damp, frigid draft left in it's wake. There weren't any clouds to work with, but we were treated to the presence of an ephemeral ghost-like mist that phantomly drifted along the valley floor. Fleeting, just like the seasons. This ended up being one of the more eerie and vivid scenes that I've ever witnessed. By the time I got this shot, I couldn't feel my toes.

After limping back to camp and the warm confines of a hot, caffeinated mug of dark-roasted coziness, we patiently waited out the polar morning. Once the sun finally hit our camp, we thawed ourselves and our gear on a pebble-studded bank of the Green. Rather uninspired by any further topographical features in the near vicinity, we decided that we'd pack up and head back down river in favor of a more scenic camp on the western side of Squaretop Mountain. We noticed some camps on the way in that offered sublime views of the aptly named peak, and also, at least we hoped, some better photographic vantage points as well.

The sky offered up some nice clouds for us that evening, but only to evaporate at dusk. Not the most majestic of sunsets, but it definitely was not taken for granted after being tent-bound the night before. All-in-all it was a pretty fun shoot. Squaretop:

The Green River & Squaretop:

We were up at the cold crack of dawn and back to the trailhead by 11 am. Were we lured by something greater than the simple, primal lust for a burger and beer in Pinedale? Perhaps. Could it have been a desperate descent down to an elevation where one could still smell summer in the air? Was it a resilient refusal of summer's decline and fall's languid approach? A defiant denial of the melancholic reality that is the cycle of seasons and the impending closing of yet another summer in the mountains? Nah. The Wyoming Pale Ale from Wind River Range Brewery was worth every hurried step that morning.

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Adventure Guru
Jan 20, 2012
It's been a while since I've been to the Green River Lakes. It's a beautiful spot, but a run in with some eco-nazis kindof left a bad taste in my mouth, as well as that of a whole bunch of other people.

Maybe I should give it another shot sometime.


rope mule
Jan 17, 2012
Thank you for the kind words, everyone!

It's a beautiful spot, but a run in with some eco-nazis kindof left a bad taste in my mouth, as well as that of a whole bunch of other people.

Care to divulge on this? Curious about what you experienced.

As for us, we experienced the exact opposite of eco-nazis: a couple of young punks rolling boulders off of a 200 ft cliff, basically right above the trail. The entire valley sounded like it was collapsing...


Adventure Guru
Jan 20, 2012
Thank you for the kind words, everyone!

Care to divulge on this? Curious about what you experienced.

As for us, we experienced the exact opposite of eco-nazis: a couple of young punks rolling boulders off of a 200 ft cliff, basically right above the trail. The entire valley sounded like it was collapsing...

We took some canoes in and were camped in the established campsite on the west side of the inlet of the upper lake. An eco-nazi or two took issue with it and tolld us that we shouldn't camp there. That night my dad was up in the early morning hours watering a tree and saw a light at the campsite up near the trail, thought it was odd, and went back to bed. The next morning, just after breakfast, two rangers came and hailed the camp from across the river. They wanted us to canoe across and pick them up so they could inspect our camp and give us our citations. Uh- no thanks! You're welcome to swim over. They told us the'd be back after their rounds, and we told them not to bother because we wouldn't be there.

We packed up camp and left.

So technically, it was within the 200 ft buffer zone for lakes, streams, and trails. But every single site up in that area of the Winds violates that guideline! On the way out, we spoke with several other campers, all who had camped within 50 feet of the trail and they'd talked to the rangers when the rangers went through and they had not been citedr, nor the possibility of citations even mentioned.

There was so much of a double standard going on it was absolutely nuts!


Aug 14, 2012
Awesome photos. Really inspiring! Impressed that you carried a big Canon DSLR. I'm always worried too much about pack weight to carry anything bigger than a P&S.
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