Backcountry Recreation Playground

THE NORTHERN RED DESERT IS A BACKCOUNTRY RECREATION PLAYGROUND

The Red Desert boasts numerous opportunities for backcountry and motorized recreation, all of which are easily accessible from Rock Springs, Pinedale, and Lander. Numerous dirt roads and two tracks provide access to this remote landscape. Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the area. The Red Desert is prized for its big game hunting — there are abundant deer, pronghorn, and elk herds.

Its wild northern reaches showcase a vast expanse of fenceless high-desert landscape, perfect for horseback riding, mountain biking, long distance running, and day hiking.

Trout fishing is also possible on the nearby Sweetwater River. The desert’s numerous wilderness study areas provide for great backcountry camping between buttes and mesas or in aspen glades near spring seeps. Farther south, near the desert’s iconic sand dunes, a developed ORV area is perfect for those interested in motorized fun.

An ORV ridere enjoys the Killpecker Sand Dunes. Image: Sweetwater County Travel & Tourism.

With most of this landscape largely intact and contiguous with the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, opportunities for wildlife viewing abound. As much of the Desert sits well above 7,000 feet in elevation, expect to see sweeping views in all directions — a photographer’s delight. But note that the real treat comes after the shadows grow long and the sun goes down: the Red Desert’s night sky will leave you speechless and humbled. 

Camping in the desert. Image: Josh Milek.