Top Ten U.S. Campgrounds

Green River Campground: Bridger-Teton National Forest
By Suzanne Dow

Ever notice the condition of the road leading to a campground is inversely proportional to what you find at that campground? Green River Lake campground in the Bridger-Teton National Forest at the end of Forest Route 650 is an example.

The Forest Service says it is one and a half hours to Green River Lake campground from Pinedale, Wyoming. It will take all of this plus a bit more. About half the distance is on paved roadway, but don't get comfortable. All too soon the route becomes one of those unforgettable forest roads where women wish they had worn sports bras and men wonder if bruised kidneys require medical attention to heal. At about midpoint, the roadway makes a long, sweeping curve up a rise. This is a good opportunity to take a break and view a stretch of rapids on the Green River. The vista includes anglers casting for rainbows and canoeists exploring the many faces of this beautiful river.

Just beyond a stretch of rapids, the FR 650 passes through an elk winter-feeding-ground area. Summertime finds only cattle here. The elk's winter feed is stored safely inside the red-roofed structures at the forest's edge. At the northern fence line, the glacier-carved peaks of the Bridger Wilderness appear. With the sight of Big Sheep, Battleship, Squaretop, and Osborn mountains, you forget the pounding of yet another stretch of washboards.

Just when your body screams "Enough!" the campground's sign comes into view. A right-hand turn and you have made it! Now to find the perfect campsite.

Camp Life

The whole campground has been newly renovated and is recovering its "natural" appearance. One feature of the renovation is new vaults—they appear as mini-log cabins. Another improvement are picnic tables made from the local lodgepole pines. Both features are reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps' work in the 1930s.

Adjacent to an extremely primitive boat ramp below the campground is the former headquarters for the Gannett Peak guest ranch. Once a very exclusive Guest Ranch, the cabin is now the residence for the campground host. Several of the ranch's old outbuildings can be found around the area and add to the picturesque beauty of Green River Lake campground.

The calm surface of Green River Lake in front of the cabin stretches out from the shore, reflecting the towering rugged beauty of the Bridger Wilderness. The lake's mirror surface is disturbed by the paddle of a canoeist. This view of the Bridger Wilderness is perhaps the most frequently photographed non-national park in Wyoming.

Two trails lead into the wilderness from Green River Lake campground: Lakeshore and Highline. Lakeshore follows the eastern shoreline through a dense stand of conifers. The Highline trail follows the gentle curves of the sagebrush-covered western shore. Both lead to the smaller Green River Lake, and from there, further into the wilderness.

With the magnificent splendor found in and around Green River Lake campground, bruises are soon forgotten. The beauty of Square Top Mountain, a benevolent guardian of the Green River's headwaters, will ease aches and pains. Here, images of Yosemite National Park are recalled but without the hordes of campers, tour buses, and automobiles. Forest Route 650 has done its job.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »