Cirque of the Towers
Wind River Range, WY
Many a backpacker, rock climber, and fly-fisherman has crested Jackass Pass, at 10,800 feet, gained their first view of the Cirque—a semi-circle of 12,000-foot granite spires—and uttered words that we cannot print here. The rest were too slack-jawed to speak. And it only gets better: continue about a mile beyond the pass and pitch your tent at this campsite on soft ground in the meadows at mile 8.7, nearly surrounded by a horseshoe of toothy, sheer granite towers with names like Warbonnet, Wolf’s Head, Shark’s Nose, and Warrior. No matter how much time you’ve allotted, you’ll wish you had more for the wealth of climbing, fishing, and on- and off-trail exploring. The best side trips include Cirque Lake and Lonesome Lake below the soaring face of Pingora Peak, and Texas Pass above Secluded Lake. Spend two nights here on a 17.4-mile out-and-back hike, or take advantage of numerous possibilities for longer treks. From Big Sandy trailhead (camping $8/night), hike a flat 5.2 miles to Big Sandy Lake, then take the trail climbing to Jackass Pass—steeply for the last mile. Bring a rod for catching cutthroat trout in Lonesome Lake. The climber and mosquito numbers thin by late summer.