Big Sandy Opening is also known as Big Sandy Entrance and Big Sandy Trailhead. Either way, it is the most popular trailhead of the Southern Wind River Range. The reason is because it is the easiest access point to the Cirque of the Towers, and Big Sandy Lake is an easy trek for day hikers, backpackers, and fishermen. In the summer, expect the parking lot to be full, crowds on the trail, and crowds at Big Sandy Lake and the Cirque.
Peaks the are available through the Big Sandy Opening are: Wolf’s Head
, Warbonnet Peak
, Pylon Peak
, Mitchell Peak
, Lizard Head
, Overhanging Tower, Sharks Nose, Warrior I, Camels Hump, Skunk Knob, Bollinger Peak, Block Tower, Elizabeth Peak, and the Watchtower.
There is no easy way to get to the trailhead and many consider the drive to the main trailhead to be the first crux of a southern Wind Rivers expedition. The drive can be a daunting task for the directionally impaired. The best map available which shows all the dirt roads is the Recreational Map of Wyoming published by GTR and is available HERE
or in Rock Springs and Pinedale.
Although the road is a fairly well-maintained dirt road, there is 30-40 miles of it (depending on the route), with sections of washboards which will rattle your teeth. In addition to personal experience, these directions and mileage are taken directly from a combination of three guide books listed in the "Books" link on the left side of this page.
If coming from the north near Pinedale, Wyoming, drive 11 miles south on U.S. 191 to Boulder. From Boulder: Drive approximately 18.0 miles southeast on highway 353 on a paved road. Upon reaching a junction, shortly after the pavement ends, bear left (southeast) for 2.9 miles. At 2.9 miles bear right (still southeast). After approximately 6 miles, you will come to a signed intersection (A). Turn left (east), following the sign to Big Sandy. After 7.5 miles you will find another signed intersection (B) where you turn left (north) to Big Sandy. This winding road is steeper, and rockier but is still fairly good. Follow this road and signs for approximately 10.5 miles until reaching Big Sandy campground and trailhead (9080 ft).
If coming from the south near Rock Springs, Wyoming: Drive north on U.S. 191 to the town of Farson. Two miles east of Farson on highway 28, there is a sign to Big Sandy. Turn left (northeast) and drive approximately 40 miles of dirt road to intersection (A) as described above.
Red Tape and Facilities
Big Sandy Opening in the Bridger Wilderness of the Pinedale Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. No fees or permits are required to climb, hike, or camp in the area.
Bridger Teton National Forest
Pinedale Ranger District
29 East Fremont Lake Road
PO Box 220
Pinedale, WY 82941
There is a Forest Service campground at the trailhead and a fairly large parking area. Camping is available for $8.00/night from June 20 to September 10. There is no fee before or after those dates. There are 12 sites with pit toilets, no water and no showers.