Looking to head off the beaten path in Wyoming? In this guide we’re sharing the best things to do in Pinedale, Wyoming, plus where to stay, our favorite places to eat, and more!
After spending our first trip to Wyoming exploring the state’s incredible national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, for our second trip, we wanted to focus on an area that was slightly less popular and was more dog friendly, but still offered some of the gorgeous mountain views and activities that the state is known for.
So we ended up in Pinedale and it checked off every item on our wishlist…and more! We spent over a week in the area, both working and exploring, and it now ranks very high up on our favorite spots in the United States.
Watch our experience in Pinedale, Wyoming, including local coffee, a gorgeous hike, unique dining, and kayaking!
While we definitely want this place to remain partially a secret, so it retains its authentic charm, we also want others to get to experience the beauty and magic of this place (responsibly and respectfully, of course). And in this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know before visiting Pinedale, as well as the best things to do!
Looking for more things to do in Wyoming? Check out our Wyoming guides and vlogs!
- How to backpack to the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming’s Wind River Range
- 2 Days at Yellowstone National Park Itinerary
- 3 Days at Grand Teton National Park Itinerary
- All of our Wyoming Vlogs
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
About Pinedale, Wyoming
Pinedale is located in the Western part of Wyoming, about 1.5 hours southeast of the popular tourist town of Jackson and is said to be the REAL Wyoming.
Surrounded by three mountain ranges, including the Wind River Range, it’s a town known for its endless outdoor recreation, views, lakes and rivers, fur trapping history, western vibes, and small town charm.
When the town was incorporated back in 1912, it was the furthest away incorporated town from a railroad in the United States and even today, it remains one of the most remote towns in the country and has maintained an authentic and laid back feel.
Compared to Jackson (which we do love!), Pinedale is a lot less developed, doesn’t have resorts, and because it doesn’t have a national park just down the street, it is less crowded. But don’t let that fool you, there is a LOT to see and do in Pinedale!
The town itself has some great local businesses, restaurants, and coffee. While the surrounding area is full of some jaw dropping nature, from granite peaks, to lakes, to rivers, which still brings many outdoors lovers to the area, but at a much smaller quantity than the national parks.
It’s hard to put into words how we feel about Pinedale, but if you’re looking for the perfect basecamp to get out into nature and experience some solitude, away from the traditional tourist path, we couldn’t recommend it more.
Before visiting Pinedale, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy it for many years to come!
These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
We love getting to share these beautiful places and help you explore them and we hope that you will treat them with the respect they deserve, so we can continue doing so.
When to visit Pinedale, Wyoming
Pinedale is a year round destination, with fun activities in the winter, like mushing, snowshoeing and nordic skiing, and snowmobiling, as long as you can handle the frigid, single digit temperatures that can occur.
But for the sake of this guide, we’re focusing on the summer, as that is when we visited and when most things we’re recommending will be accessible!
The summers in Pinedale are pretty spectacular, with highs in the upper 70s and nighttime lows that are perfect for a nice campfire. And for the best chance to do the activities on this guide, we recommend visiting in late July through early September to ensure that snow is melted and the trails are clear.
However, there are a couple things to be aware of during this time.
Mosquitoes are a pain
Mosquitoes can be a big nuisance in the summertime in the Wind River Range, which is just outside of Pinedale. We had prepared ourselves for the worst and thankfully only had a couple instances where they annoyed us, but we’ll be sharing some items to bring below to help you tolerate them!
The west unfortunately has wildfires every year and even if the area you are visiting does not have an active fire, winds can spread smoke across states. When wildfires start varies year to year, but in 2021, it felt like they started early and we encountered smoky skies in Pinedale when we first arrived.
We were pretty worried that the views our entire time in the area would be limited, but thankfully we had a few clear days! One tool we use to check fires and see where smoke is the thickest is AirNow.
Getting to + around Pinedale, Wyoming
Flying to Pinedale
If flying into Wyoming to visit Pinedale, you can fly into the Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), which is a smaller airport, but does offer flights on Alaska, American, Delta, and United Airlines year round, as well as Allegiant and Sun Country Airlines seasonally.
But for more flight options, the closest major airport is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which is located about 3 hours and 45 minutes southwest of Pinedale.
Driving to Pinedale
If driving to Pinedale, here is how long you can expect for your drive to be from some popular locations nearby!
- Casper, Wyoming: 4 hours, 15 minutes (272 miles)
- Bozeman, Montana: 5.5 hours (291 miles)
- Cheyenne, Wyoming: 6 hours (373 miles)
- Denver, Colorado: 6.5 hours (436 miles)
- Boise, Idaho: 6.5 hours (438 miles)
Getting around Pinedale
Since Pinedale is pretty remote, a car will be needed to get around. If you are flying in and need to rent a car, most types of cars would work fine for your trip, although some roads are a bit rough, so higher clearance and 4×4 would only help!
However, there is one other option besides renting a car and that is to use GOTCo Shuttles, which can take you from Jackson to Pinedale, as well as to some trailheads in the area. It’s not cheap, but it is a good option if you for some reason do not want to have a car with you.
Where to Stay in Pinedale, Wyoming
Although Pinedale is not a huge town, there are still quite a few options when it comes to places to stay, whether you want a hotel experience or something more rustic, like boondocking.
Newly Remodeled Alpine-Modern (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom): This Airbnb is gorgeous and right in town!
Riverbend Cabin (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom): This cabin is beautiful and in such a scenic location! You may even have a moose stop by!
Franklin Hideaway Cabin (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom): This Airbnb offers everything you need for a comfy stay right in town!
There are a handful of developed campgrounds in and near Pinedale, including the Fremont Lake Campground, which takes reservations, and the Warren Bridge Campground, which is located about 20 minutes northwest of Pinedale and is first-come, first-served.
For our week in the area, we boondocked in a couple spots near Pinedale. We stayed in this spot for a few nights, which had decent cell service (it’s spotty in the area, but we got a couple bars here).
We also stayed at the Warren Bridge Dispersed Camping area (right by the paid one above, but free!), which also had iffy service, but enough to do a few work items.
What to bring with you to Pinedale, Wyoming
Since most of the best things to do in Pinedale, Wyoming include outdoor activities, you’ll want to bring plenty of outdoor gear and clothing. To see everything we take hiking, check out our hiking gear as well as our guide about how to make a 10 essentials kit. But for this specific area, we have a few items we really want to stress bringing with you.
PS: if you are looking to rent any gear, the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale rents a variety of outdoor gear, plus is a great spot to pick up any items you may have forgotten!
The mountains around Pinedale are home to both black and grizzly bears. We always carry this bear spray when we’re in bear country and luckily we can’t speak to its effectiveness, but hear that it’s a great deterrent for bears (make sure you know how to use it).
If you already have bear spray, make sure to double check the expiration date! And if you’re flying in and need to get bear spray once in Wyoming, as it’s not allowed on airplanes, the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale has bear spray rentals for $6/day.
If you plan to camp in the backcountry, proper food storage is KEY to ensuring both bears and humans stay safe. As the saying goes, “a fed bear is a dead bear” and by not properly storing food and other scented items, you run the risk of bears getting into your belongings, which can put you in danger, as well as the bear, as they then become too accustomed to humans and therefore a threat.
While you can use a bear bag, we prefer a canister and carry the Backpacker’s Cache Bear Proof Container.
Bug Spray and Bug Net
As we mentioned earlier, the mosquitoes can be brutal around Pinedale in the summer, so bug spray is KEY! But one other item we brought that helped us while in the area were mosquito nets to wear on our heads. They may not be fashionable, but they helped keep our face safe from bites.
The Best Things to do in Pinedale, Wyoming
From outdoor adventures, to delicious locally roasted coffee, to interesting history and unique experiences, there are many incredible things to do in Pinedale, Wyoming. Here is everything we’d suggest doing while in the area, based on our experience, plus a few things we hope to do next time!
For even more ideas of things to do, check out Pinedale’s website!
Watch our experience in Pinedale, Wyoming, including local coffee, a gorgeous hike, unique dining, and kayaking!
Hike in the Wind River Range
Hands down (in our opinion), the BEST thing to do in Pinedale is explore the Wind River Range. Nicknamed “the Winds,” this range is full of jagged, granite peaks and is home to 12 of the 13 highest peaks in the state of Wyoming, including Gannett Peak (the highest) at 13,802 feet. Combine these peaks with rivers, alpine meadows, clear lakes, and 7 of the 10 largest glaciers in the lower 48.
And there are many ways to explore it, including day hikes, backpacking trips, or on the water, which we will explain more below. But for those wanting to experience it by foot, here are some of the best day hikes and backpacking routes to consider while visiting the area!
4.2 miles | 636 feet of elevation gain
We did this hike while in the area and it is a DREAM! With low mileage and not too much gain, it’s a great trail for most abilities and the payoff at the end is huge, with a gorgeous rocky outcropping overlooking multiple lakes and the stunning peaks of the Winds.
We went on a weekday morning, just after sunrise, and only saw one group on the way up and ended up having the end to ourselves for the majority of the time. The mosquitoes were awful during certain parts of the hike, so be prepared!
Note: This hike shares a trail with other destinations and the turn off is not marked by signage, so please download the offline AllTrails map beforehand so you know where to go.
9.2 miles | 1,135 feet of elevation gain
If you were to follow the starting trail for Sacred Rim (Pole Creek Trail) and not turn off for Sacred Rim, you will eventually make it to Photographers Point. The views here look incredible too, but we hear that Sacred Rim is just as nice and has half the mileage and gain.
4.7 miles | 1,532 feet of elevation gain
Long Lake is a gorgeous, clear lake nestled in the Wind River Range. And unlike most hikes, where you tend to go uphill first and then downhill on the way back, the hike to Long Lake is the opposite. But the uphill climb on the way back will be worth it after spending some time enjoying Long Lake, which is the main lake you can see from the top of Sacred Rim!
If you have the gear and ability to backpack while in Pinedale, DO IT! It was one of the best experiences of our entire year and is a great way to get deeper into nature and have slightly lower crowds.
Here are a few good routes to check out. Make sure to check our backpacking packing list to see what items to bring with you!
Cirque of the Towers to Fremont Loop
28.9 miles | 4,084 feet of elevation gain | # of days needed: 3-5
This is the route we backpacked and we have nothing but incredible things to say about it! While the Cirque of the Towers, which is a semi-circle of 15 insane mountain peaks, is the main attraction on this hike, there is no shortage of things to experience along the way, including many lakes, mountain views, and some challenging features.
To learn more about backpacking to the Cirque of the Towers, check out our detailed guide to the hike, which includes our exact itinerary and campsites for 3 days and 2 nights, plus how you can shorten or extend the hike.
Titcomb Lakes and Titcomb Basin
29.5 miles | 4,041 feet of elevation gain | # of days needed: 3-5
Another popular and beautiful backpacking route near Pinedale is Titcomb Lake and Titcomb Basin, which includes many other lakes as well. While we did not backpack this route, it looks stunning and is very high on the list for next time!
This blog post by the Clever Hiker has some good information about this trip, as well as itinerary options.
22.9 miles | 3,530 feet of elevation gain | # of days needed: 2-4
This route shares a trail with the route to Titcomb Lakes, but is a shorter option if you have less time or want less mileage. It still offers some gorgeous views though and can be used as a good route to do other day hikes from the area.
Enjoy some local coffee
We LOVE coffee and one of our favorite activities while traveling is visiting local coffee shops (bonus points if they roast their own beans!).
And despite Pinedale being a smaller town, they are home to a super cool coffee roaster called Pine Coffee Supply, which was such an amazing surprise!
Not only is the coffee delicious, but the inside is very well designed, with a garage door that opens, cool art on the walls, and various small seating areas. This is such a gem of a coffee shop and would hold its own in any larger city!
Have a unique dining experience at Pitchfork Fondue
One of the most unique and fun dining experiences we have ever had was in Pinedale at the Pitchfork Fondue!
Pitchfork Fondue began back in the 1990s on a cattle ranch in Jackson, but moved to Pinedale in 2000. In 2015, Matt and Liz David, Pinedale locals whose family were some of the original homesteaders in the area, purchased the Pitchfork Fondue. And despite having new owners, it is still serving the traditional meals, with some additions.
So what is a pitchfork fondue? It’s a western outdoor cookout where they cook meat on a pitchfork in a large cauldron of hot oil heated by a wood fire. While these do exist elsewhere, such as in Medora, North Dakota, what makes this one special is that it’s much smaller scale and feels like you’re just at a cookout in a local’s backyard. It doesn’t feel like a tourist trap at all!
For the actual meal, it’s $30 per person which includes drinks (tea, lemonade, or water), potato chips, buffalo brats, salad, baked potato, your choice of meat (sirloin steak, chicken breast, or trout), homemade sauces, and your choice of a brownie or lemon bar for dessert. It is a TON of food and totally worth the cost. It is rare we get stuffed, but we had to roll out of here!
Beyond just the food and uniqueness of the cooking method, the hospitality was amazing (Matt was very nice and chatted with us a bunch) and the views of the mountains off in the distance were beautiful. They even have cornhole to keep you or your kids entertained!
We loved this experience so much and highly recommend it when visiting Pinedale. They are only open Thursdays-Saturdays for dinner in the summer months (starting in late May). We suggest making a reservation in advance, as they can get busy!
Learn history at the Museum of the Mountain Man
A huge part of Pinedale’s history revolves around fur trapping and trading. In the early 1800s, the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade brought trappers and traders to the Green River Valley, which became the center of the mountain fur trapping industry due to the abundance of beaver, which was highly sought after, and other wildlife.
This era created young adventurous mountain men who lived year round in the wilderness, opened trade with the western Native American tribes, and was an important stepping stone in the westward expansion of the United States.
To share the history of these fur trappers and their impact on the area, Pinedale is home to the Museum of the Mountain Man. This museum costs $10 per person and has many displays inside, including Jim Bridger’s rifle (a prominent mountain man), an example of a lean-to, Native American artifacts, many different guns, and more.
Attend the Green River Rendezvous
Another great way to experience the history in Pinedale is during the Green River Rendezvous, which is an annual event in July celebrating historic explorers and fur trappers.
The event started in 1833 as a way for trappers and traders to meet, exchange wares, and tell tall tales and is now a large 4 day celebration, with many demonstrations, a parade, a rodeo, and more!
We missed this event by a week, but if you’re in the area the second week of July (the 2022 event will be happening July 7-10), it looks like a great way to learn even more about these mountain men.
Check out other Summer Events
Besides the Green River Rendezvous, Pinedale hosts a couple other events in the summer, including the Soundcheck Summer Music Series, which is a FREE outdoor music event from early July to mid August (frequency and days of the week can vary). You can see past lineups here!
The Wind River Mountain Festival is also another popular summertime event that happens in mid-July and features live music, plus vendors. And for the adventurous, you can also conquer the Surly Pika Adventure Race during the festival, which is a 6 or 12 hour team race where teams will have to find their way from checkpoint to checkpoint by foot, bike, and boat/raft! There is no designated route, the teams must figure out their own way using maps or compasses (no GPS devices). It sounds like SO much fun!
There is also the Midnight on the Mesa race in the summertime, which is a 12 hour trail running relay!
Visit Fremont Lake
Just minutes from Pinedale is Fremont Lake, which is Wyoming’s second largest natural lake, at 12 miles long and 1 mile wide at its widest. It’s also the 7th deepest lake in the United States at 620 feet.
While at Fremont Lake, you can just enjoy the lake from the shore at the beach or get out on the water on a kayak, stand up paddle board, or a boat! If you do not have your own watercraft for the lake, you can rent different types from the Lakeside Lodge, right on the shore of the lake!
With two rivers, the Green River and the Big Fork River, plus many lakes, there is no shortage of great fishing opportunities in Pinedale! You can learn more about some of the popular spots to go fishing here. Two Rivers Fishing Co. in downtown Pinedale offers fishing supplies, as well as guided fishing trips!
This is something we have yet to do in Pinedale, but after fly fishing once in Montana, we would LOVE to go fishing in Wyoming!
Kayak or hike at Green River Lakes
Last, but definitely not least is one of the most gorgeous spots near Pinedale…Green River Lakes!
This lake is the headwaters of the Green River, which is the chief tributary to the Colorado River. So technically the Colorado River gets its beginnings from the snow melt here in the Wind River Range!
But beyond that, the Green River itself has played an important role in history, with Native Americans using this area seasonally for game. And in the 1800s, the river was crossed by pioneers on the Oregon Trail and was the site of many rendezvous by fur trappers.
The lake is north of Pinedale and is 50 miles by car, with a lot of the trek being down a dirt road. This road is accessible by any car, but you will have to go slow. Google Maps said it would take 1.5 hours to get here, but it took us over 2.5 hours in our van (we go really slow since our entire home is on wheels!).
But once you get there, you’ll see that it is worth the trek to get there. The lake, while beautiful on its own, is surrounded by the Wind River Range and has a backdrop of Squaretop Mountain, which as the name implies, has a very unique square top. It’s unlike any mountain we have seen!
The area is so peaceful, with just a campground, plus some free camping along the road to the lake. We camped in one of the free spots and had the river right outside of our door…it was magical!
Beyond camping, while at Green River Lakes you have a few options of things to do!
Hiking & backpacking
For a day hike, a popular option is the Green River Lakes Loop (7.7 miles, 633 feet of elevation gain), which takes you around the lake. But the lake can also be used as a starting point for longer backpacking trips, like Green River Lakes to Summit Lake (35.2 miles, 3,897 feet of elevation gain) or up to Squaretop Mountain (25 miles, 5,242 feet of elevation gain).
As we mentioned earlier, the Green River and Green River Lakes are great spots for fishing! You can expect to see a variety of trout, like Brook, Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Mackinaw, as well as Mountain Whitefish.
Another awesome option is to go kayaking on the lake! We brought our inflatable kayak and had a blast paddling the entire Lower Green River Lake. It was pretty smoky that day, but still a gorgeous day on the water!
We hope that this guide has given you some good ideas of things to do in Pinedale, as well as other tips for your trip, and we hope that you fall in love with the area as much as we did!
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