Southern Wind River Range
Indian Basin Region
Titcomb Basin Region
Dinwoody Glacier Region
Green River Cirques Region
Northern Wind River Range
The Wyoming 13ers are the group of all independent peaks above 13,000 feet elevation in Wyoming. This region of the Rocky Mountains is split into several distinct ranges, and of these, the Wind River Range, Teton Range, Bighorn Range, and Absaroka Range are the only ones to harbor 13ers. Despite the relatively few number of high peaks in Wyoming (36 ranked peaks above 13,000 ft. compared to 637 in Colorado), the peaks are extremely remote and rugged by the mountaineering standards of the continental United States. Other 13er finishers have agreed with my assessment that the set of Wyoming 13ers is the best elevation-based peakbagging list with fewer than 100 peaks in the Lower 48 states. Read on for details on exploring these wonderful summits.
Each Wyoming 13er has its own page. You can find a particular thirteener based on its geographic location as laid out at the top of this page, which is helpful for identifying groups of peaks that can be climbed in a single trip, or you can browse the whole list of peaks organized by elevation on the right-hand panel.
Within each guidebook entry, you’ll find a summary of the peak’s topographical characteristics (elevation, prominence, and isolation) as well as an estimate of technical climbing difficulty by the easiest-known route. You’ll also find links to the Peakbagger and Lists of John pages for each peak–both sites let you enter ascents of these mountains and track your progress towards completing the list.
The guidebook description includes a brief paragraph summarizing each 13er’s characteristics, followed by some general information you might consider when planning a trip, such as which peaks can be easily linked together in a traverse. After this, I have written original descriptions for various routes which are used for climbing each peak. In general, this guidebook focuses on peakbagger-oriented routes which provide efficient passage to the summit from one or more directions of approach. For additional information on technical rock climbing routes, consult existing climbing guidebooks.
For more information on approach hikes, difficulty ratings, seasonality / conditions / weather, the determination of the 13er list, and the history of early list completions (or to support the author), consider the printed guidebook (on Amazon), which includes over 70 route descriptions and over 300 color photos). Signed author copies are available upon request at the listed price; contact me by email or Instagram (@eli.boardman) if interested.
Wyoming 13ers List, Part 1
Wyoming 13ers List, Part 2
Note on Difficulty Ratings and Danger
For each route described in this guidebook, an estimate is made of the route’s objective difficulty using the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) classes. YDS classes used in this guidebook roughly follow this scheme: class 1 is a trail, class 2 is rough off trail hiking (including boulder fields), class 3 is scrambling, class 4 is rock climbing, and class 5 is more difficult rock climbing. In some cases, the rock difficulty rating is further modified with a rating of the difficulty of snow travel encountered on the route, such as “mellow snow,” “moderate snow,” or “serious snow.” I have tried to avoid descriptors such as “easy” or “difficult,” since the perceived challenge will depend on each climber’s individual experience.
As with any rating system, all difficulty ratings presented here are subjective and could even be completely erroneous due to genuine mistakes or changing route characteristics. As such, this guidebook explicitly carries no warranty of any kind and no implied suitability for any particular use, beyond digital entertainment. Additionally, other sources of danger such as lightning storms, avalanches, bear attacks, etc., could occur anywhere in the mountains at any time, and these dangers are generally ignored in this guidebook, since it is assumed that the reader is already adept at remote backcountry travel. It is the sole responsibility of anyone entering the mountains to make an assessment of safety based on personal experience and real-world conditions. Stay safe, and remember to stay alive to climb another day.
Wyoming 13ers Map
Note on map: zoom in, then click on peak markers to display peak name, elevation, and prominence.
Summary of Wyoming 13er Groups
By far the most famous mountain range in Wyoming, the Tetons captivate tourist and climber alike. The Grand Teton is unquestionably the monarch of this great range and the only 13er in the Tetons. The Grand is one of the most difficult and (ironically) most frequently climbed of the Wyoming 13ers, competing only with Gannett in both respects. Entire guidebooks have been written on the plethora of climbing routes here, so this guide focuses on the Owen Spalding route as the most common choice of summit-oriented climbers.
In the northeast corner of Wyoming, the Bighorns are less well-known than the Tetons and Winds, but contain equally stunning glacial landscapes and two Wyoming 13ers. With a combination of big-wall climbing, alpine lake backpacking, and walk-up peakbagging, the Bighorn Range has something to offer everyone. Cloud Peak has the distinction of being one of the most prominent peaks in Wyoming (the exact prominences of Cloud and Gannett are still pending better measurements), while Black Tooth has the less-inspiring distinction of being the lowest Wyoming 13er. Both peaks are fine climbs, and the Bighorn Range is a great destination for anyone wanting a representative taste of Wyoming’s mountains.
Full of grizzly bears and lacking the beautiful glacial architecture of Wyoming’s other alpine mountains, the Absaroka Range is little-visited for good reason. Still, the peaks here are so different from anywhere else in Wyoming that the difference itself is noteworthy. The range’s sole 13er, Francs Peak, happens to be the easiest of the Wyoming 13ers, and it is doable as a day-trip by most hikers. Unlike all of the state’s other high peaks, which are composed of granitic basement rocks, Francs is an eroded massif of volcanic breccia ejected by the Yellowstone supercaldera. The volcanic geology of the Absaroka Range explains the lack of sharp peaks and knife-edge cirques, and the overall ambiance is reminiscent of the dry volcanic Andes.
Southern Wind River Range
Despite the looming fame of the southern Winds, with places like the Cirque of the Towers, Haystack Mountain, and Mount Hooker deeply embedded in the national climbing lore, only one summit rises above 13,000 ft. This gargantuan mountain, Wind River Peak, carries the whole range’s name proudly, its vast snow-clad bulk visible for a hundred miles in most directions. Wind River Peak is remote, but since trails cover most of the distance and the summit is non-technical, it is one of only a handful of Wyoming 13ers that is frequently day-hiked. A backpacking trip into this area is certain to be rewarding though, with endless vistas of alpine lakes and serrated cirques.
Indian Basin Region
Adjacent to the famous locale of Titcomb lies another basin, slightly smaller and less dramatic, but nevertheless harboring a fine array of peaks. This is Indian Basin, and it can be accessed by taking a side-trail above Island Lake. Unnamed lakes and pleasant meadows abound, and some people prefer to camp here instead of the starker and often more-crowded Titcomb Basin. The north arete of Harrower Peak dominates the view of the south, its distinct profile calling rock climbers like a siren beacon. To the north, Fremont Peak offers perhaps the most popular scrambling route on this side of the range with a tremendous summit view, and to the west, Indian Pass offers a scenic cross-country route to the wild and remote North Fork of Bull Lake Creek via the Knife Point Glacier. Bete Noire does not directly adjoin Indian Basin but is still included in this chapter since it is often approached from Indian Pass, and together, this set of peaks forms a cohesive grouping that would make a wonderful day or week of peakbagging. Interestingly, these are the southernmost Wind River 13ers after Wind River Peak.
Titcomb Basin Region
If the Dinwoody region is famous for its glaciers, Titcomb is known for its rock. Of course, the two terranes—glacier and rock—are intimately related: ancient glaciers carved Titcomb from a primeval plain into the steep-walled cirque that we see today. The glaciers here were so powerful, and scoured the ground so completely, that there are no large moraines left in the valley. Rather, Titcomb is smooth-walled and flat-bottomed, harboring a series of fantastic alpine lakes. From Island Lake, Titcomb Basin appears as a hanging valley higher up the trail, but any initial idea of elevation difference is shattered when gazing up at the peaks that rise above the basin, their sheer walls rising more than 2,000 feet vertically in only a few horizontal feet. A total of 10 Wyoming 13ers sit on the crest of the Titcomb cirque: counterclockwise from the southeast, they are Fremont, Sacagawea, Helen, Spearhead, Miriam, the Sphinx, Woodrow Wilson, the Twins, American Legion, and Henderson. However, some of these peaks are more readily climbed from adjoining valleys, so this chapter is limited to those peaks which most directly rise out of Titcomb Basin’s eastern and western walls.
Dinwoody Glacier Region
This area includes many of the finest glaciated alpine peaks in the American Rockies, and the largest glaciers in the continental United States outside of the Pacific Northwest. The exact grouping of peaks in the Dinwoody Glacier chapter is a bit arbitrary—most of these summits sit on major ridges and could equally well be included in several other chapters. However, anyone standing on the summit of Gannett will see the great glacier-clad bowl of the Dinwoody cirque and immediately understand that these peaks all belong together, even if some of them are easiest to climb from other valleys.
Green River Cirques Region
The Green River is the main tributary of the Colorado River; the two great rivers join in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, becoming the single most important water source in western North America. The official headwaters of the Green River rise from the Stroud Glacier on the northern flank of Bow Mountain, but dozens of other glacial cirques also contribute to the upper Green River in the same area. The peaks in this section do not fall into as logical of a grouping as the other peak sections, and in some ways this chapter is a catch-all for peaks of the northwestern Wind River Range that do not fit in any other section. Still, each of these peaks do have the common property that they are most easily climbed from a west-side approach, and the Green River Lakes Trailhead is a logical starting point to approach most climbs in this area.
Northern Wind River Range
This area is, in many ways, the final frontier of the Wyoming 13ers. The far northern Winds hold a certain mystique for some of us, and we see secrets where others see nothing but endless talus fields and rounded, rubble-clad mountains. Certainly, those looking for postcard views and world-class alpinism will prefer the Titcomb and Dinwoody cirques. However, those who enjoy obscurity should consider exploring here. Tread lightly and speak softly; in keeping with centuries of tradition, many of the best secrets of the far northern Winds are not included in this guidebook, and there’s no need to share all of your discoveries online. Let others find their own way to that waterfall or picture-perfect campsite.
Note on LiDAR Elevations and Ranked Peaks
Traditionally, a “ranked peak” is any point with at least 300 ft. of prominence (vertical rise above the highest saddle connecting it to higher ground). There has always been some ambiguity determining whether peaks are ranked due to the uncertainty of existing topographic maps.
Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) is an advanced remote sensing technology used to measure topography with extreme accuracy. John Kirk pioneered the use of LiDAR data for peak analysis, and I personally processed all of the Wyoming 13ers using U.S. Geological Survey LiDAR data. In this process, I discovered that Miriam Peak is a ranked 13er (the topo map is missing a contour line). The formerly soft-ranked 13er Pedestal Peak turned out to be just barely short of the threshold, with 293 ft. of prominence; its guidebook page is included HERE for completeness. Additionally, the elevations of most other peaks changed somewhat. The information on this page reflects the most up-to-date and accurate version of the Wyoming 13er peak list using the revised LiDAR elevation and prominence measurements.
Note on Wilderness Ethics
The Wyoming 13ers are located in some of the least-visited and most-pristine areas of the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Whiles this is an enticing prospect for would-be explorers and solitude aficionados, it demands a high level of responsibility to ensure that recreation is compatible with the preservation of the wilderness.
Entire books can (and have) been written about wilderness ethics. The following discussion cannot substitute for a thorough education in outdoor travel, but the points outlined here are aimed at supplementing a hiker’s knowledge who might be coming from more heavily traveled areas with different backcountry norms.
Almost every peak in this guidebook is located in an official, federally designated Wilderness Area, and everyone entering these areas must educate themselves on applicable regulations by visiting Forest Service or National Park webpages or contacting the local field offices. Please abide by all Wilderness regulations: there are plenty of other mountains where things like drones and bicycles are legal, but these types of devices are strictly prohibited in Wilderness Areas.
The guidelines of Leave No Trace are a good starting point when learning to follow wilderness ethics, and the Leave No Trace organization has lots of helpful information for those wishing to recreate responsibly. Fires are discouraged in most areas discussed in this guidebook, and collecting wood in alpine climbing areas not only depletes the local ecosystem but is difficult anyway, so fuel-powered backpacking stoves should be used instead. Camping on fragile tundra plants should be avoided when possible—it is better to camp on solid rock, snow, or bare dirt. Camp on bare ground or dry forest floors at lower elevations, as meadows and riparian areas are more easily damaged. As always, use the bathroom far away from trails and water sources, burying all waste in a deep hole and packing out all trash.
People and pack animals should always walk on trails whenever feasible, only traveling off-trail if absolutely necessary. However, in the Wind River Range and Bighorn Range, many basins don’t have any maintained trails, and cross-country travel is more common in these areas than in most other regions of the country. When hiking off-trail, minimize your impact by walking on rocks or bare dirt instead of plants, and spread out your group to disperse the impact of multiple hikers.
Do not construct cairns (piles of rocks used as route markers) anywhere in the mountains; routefinding without cairns is part of the game in these regions. Please feel free to knock down cairns if you find them in trailless regions (though cairns on peak summits are generally considered acceptable).
One particularly noteworthy aspect of Wyoming wilderness ethics is the culture around information sharing. While the history of secrecy in Wyoming’s mountains may seem elitist and exclusive to some people, norms around information sharing are actually an important part of wilderness ethics.
If someone shares an extremely detailed, step-by-step description of their trip through a remote alpine basin (or similarly, an overly detailed GPS track), others will likely try to reproduce the route as closely as is possible. This leads to more and more people congregating on the exact same route, vegetation getting trampled, cairns being built, and eroded paths becoming established.
Instead, try to share vague outlines of your itinerary so that others can visit the same general areas without stepping on exactly the same ground. Putting limits on how much information you share helps disperse human impacts on wilderness areas since people are more likely to go their own way when someone else’s preexisting route isn’t readily available to follow. For example, “I crossed the North Fork of Bull Lake Creek from Indian Pass to Blaurock Pass” is a fine way to share what you did with others, but a GPS track of your route through the meadows along Knife Point Creek is not only unnecessary but likely to contribute to environmental degradation. In short, it would be better if the next group walked down the other side of the creek.
The culture of image-sharing through social media and the internet that has grown alongside the adventure sports scene can also become problematic. Hyping up rarely visited locations can cause shifts in human use patterns, leading to the degradation of wilderness character. While we all appreciate sharing beautiful mountain photos with others, consider maintaining some of Wyoming’s historic mountain mystery by not revealing the exact locations of photos and judiciously choosing which locales to spotlight.
With regard to sharing climbing beta, part of what makes the Wyoming 13ers different from lists like the Colorado 14ers is the relative dearth of information. Extremely detailed route descriptions and pictures with lines illustrating the easiest way around every single rock are not only unnecessary but would destroy much of the character of these wild and remote peaks.
In conclusion, think twice before you share detailed climbing beta. If you wish to respect nearly two centuries of Wyoming mountaineering precedent from the time of Fremont and Bonneville to the present, please do your part to retain some mystery for the next generation.
One may ask whether I am a hypocrite for writing a guidebook while asking others not to share too much information. My answer is this: the Wyoming 13ers are growing in popularity, and sooner or later someone is bound to write a guidebook; it is best that it is done in a way that respects the established wilderness ethics as much as possible. In this book, very detailed descriptions are reserved for the select few peaks which are already exceedingly popular, to the point that more information will not impact usage. For the more obscure peaks, sharing information responsibly, with informative but open-ended descriptions, can actually contribute to the preservation of wilderness by helping others experience these places and become invested in their conservation. In this guide, I hope to walk the line between secrecy and explicitness with route descriptions that inspire exploration while encouraging everyone to find their own route variations to reach each summit.
Wyoming 13ers Photo Gallery
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