Wind River Mountains Conditions 2021

Artemus

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Well, starting this thread for same reasons we have had it in the past like 2019 https://backcountrypost.com/threads/wind-river-mountain-conditions-2019.8500/. Just to share on the ground situation reports back from people that have just been there or are researching a trip. This year the travel conditions are greatly influenced by the massive wind blowdown event on the west side that is partially discussed here. This thread is for all condition specifics including snow level on high passes. Anybody been to the Windies yet?
 

Artemus

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Just heard from a friend who summited a peak near 12K' in the southern winds and his pics show almost no snow except a little patchiness on north faces. The Winds are open for business, even climbing, snowpack-wise. He reported that there were "plenty of bugs" which for him signifies a serious understatement.
 
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travel2walk

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Did Cirque loop this past weekend via Texas and Jackass. A little snow on Texas going in but you can find scree/talus up for the majority. On the cirque side, you can pretty much avoid snow all together.

There are clear ways around most down trees on the Big Sandy portion, but there is a really bad stretch between Meeks Lake & Dads, was easier to follow the drainage to the east instead of the trail in the trees.

Mosquitos a bad up to Shadow Lake or Big Sandy, wasn't to much higher up including Lonesome.

Seems like everything is melting fast right now.
 

smscheick

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Did Cirque loop this past weekend via Texas and Jackass. A little snow on Texas going in but you can find scree/talus up for the majority. On the cirque side, you can pretty much avoid snow all together.

There are clear ways around most down trees on the Big Sandy portion, but there is a really bad stretch between Meeks Lake & Dads, was easier to follow the drainage to the east instead of the trail in the trees.

Mosquitos a bad up to Shadow Lake or Big Sandy, wasn't to much higher up including Lonesome.

Seems like everything is melting fast right now.
we are actually planning on heading into the winds tomorrow so I'll have to update after I get back on Sunday. Still debating where exactly in the winds, but leaving in the am...did you feel like the loop was crowded? haven't actually done that one, went to the trailhead once and left because it was so packed, had an excellent trip elsewhere but still have that loop on the list.
 

Bob

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So many more places with less people......
 

travel2walk

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we are actually planning on heading into the winds tomorrow so I'll have to update after I get back on Sunday. Still debating where exactly in the winds, but leaving in the am...did you feel like the loop was crowded? haven't actually done that one, went to the trailhead once and left because it was so packed, had an excellent trip elsewhere but still have that loop on the list.
I did not, but I also did it earlier and before the majority of the crowds came. (I was still able to park in the lot). There were several groups camping around Lonesome Lake and many more at Big Sandy. On the Texas drainage, I was by myself passing 1 tent at Dad's and 1 tent at Marm's. I also saw a few groups go in via Big Sandy on my way out. I would guess it's about to get busy in there which is why I did it when I did.

As @Bob says, there are so many more places with less people and you can ask him for advice. I'm just a tourist, this is his backyard.
 

WasatchWill

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Can someone explain to me the crowds that sections of the Winds get? I mean...here in Utah...the Uinta crowds, especially along MLH, make sense because that highway provides access out of SLC and the whole Wasatch Front making it just a 45 to 90 minute drive for more than 2.5 million people. The Wasatch Canyons even more so because they're literally right out that population's back door. For the Winds, it appears that SLC/Wasatch Front is also the closest urban/metro area and it's closer to 4+ hours drive to get to Pinedale and/or other access roads for much of the Winds. I suppose that's not much in the grand scheme of driving distances/durations people out west frequently do each weekend to get to where they want to be, but still...that range seems so much more remote than the Uintas and yet it sounds like from other people's reports, places like Titcomb Basin/Island Lake area and Cirque of the Towers see as many or more people than the most popular areas of the Uintas (Naturalist Basin/Four Lakes, Amethyst Lake, Red Castle/Henry Fork, etc).

Are most of the backcountry users there people who just routinely do the extra hour or two of driving from the SLC area, are they mostly local natives, or are the Winds just so widely publicized that they attract that many people willing and able to travel from all over the greater mountain west and beyond?
 

b.stark

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The Winds seem to have pretty wide renown. License plates at the trailheads tend to be from all over. I do note a fair share of Utah plates, but there's also always a surprising number of Minnesota plates.
 

travel2walk

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The Winds seem to have pretty wide renown. License plates at the trailheads tend to be from all over. I do note a fair share of Utah plates, but there's also always a surprising number of Minnesota plates.
As the ranger I met at the Big Sandy trailhead said, when something is featured in the NYT...
 

Jackson

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@WasatchWill I think if you look beyond Big Sandy and Elkhart Park, it's not crowded. Like you said, it's a big, remote range, and like Brent said, a lot of people know about it. Most of those people end up at the two most popular trailheads (and probably Green River Lakes to a lesser extent too), so the trails near those trailheads are usually really busy, but once you get off the Alltrails/Instagram routes, you're way more isolated.

In my experience, to compare to the Uintas, starting at Big Sandy and Elkhart Park is similar to starting at the MLH Highline trailhead. 95% of the traffic is concentrated on the most direct route to one spot (Titcomb for Elkhart Park; Cirque for Big Sandy; Naturalist Basin for MLH Highline), and you lose them all as soon as you break off or go farther than the standard route.
 

TheMountainRabbit

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Are most of the backcountry users there people who just routinely do the extra hour or two of driving from the SLC area, are they mostly local natives, or are the Winds just so widely publicized that they attract that many people willing and able to travel from all over the greater mountain west and beyond?
In my experience a significant portion come from Colorado (as I do regularly), though I definitely see plenty of people from Texas, New York, California, Illinois, etc. out there, too. Going off tags in it's probably 30% CO, 20% UT, 15% WY, 10% ID, 5% TX, and 20% other... though some of the CO/UT tags are certainly rental cars.

Plus, it's the Winds... not to drive even more people there, but for my money they can't be beat for the combination of pure scenery and (mostly) intact wilderness anywhere in the Lower 48.
 

OldBill

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Forget where I first heard it, but many of the crowded hot-spots/major trailheads were a result of increasing publications. Backpacker magazine back around 2000, then increasing with various Wind River High Route articles, exacerbated by the rise of social media the past decade.

It's certainly gotten far more crowded than when I first visited in the mid 1990's. I was drawn to the area by the combination of hiking, fishing, mountain man history and dude ranches. 25 yrs later - still so much to see!

Last year I noticed a lot more TX plates than I remember. It was a hot area for the virus so assumed more folks were trying to escape.
 

Mike K

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Anyone get back from the Winds within the last week? Supposed to head out this week and curious about how bad the smoke has been. I guess it just depends on the winds and such. I checked a few days ago and it looked clear. Today is a different story though!

 

Bob

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Anyone get back from the Winds within the last week? Supposed to head out this week and curious about how bad the smoke has been. I guess it just depends on the winds and such. I checked a few days ago and it looked clear. Today is a different story though!

It varies by the day... Depending on the wind shift... Not real predictable more than a couple days our.....
 

Jon Carbaugh

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Looks like the worst of it is right over the Winds today... :sick:
 

Bob

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Smoke won't go till the caldor fire burns through Tahoe
 
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