Got cabin fever and itching to get outside to enjoy the beautiful spring-like weather? The Sublette County Historical Society has opened the Lander Trail-New Fork River Crossing Historical Park for the season. “We know it is early,” said Sublette County Historical Society President, James Thomas, “but the snow is off and the road and parking lot are dried out, so we wanted to open it up and let people go in and visit the park.”
The new 100-acre historical park had its grand opening in the spring of 2014. It is located where the Lander Trail, a branch of the California-Oregon Trail system, crosses the New Fork River. There is a walking trail through the park and nine interpretive signs tell how the New Fork River was a dangerous river crossing along the emigrant’s journey westward and the beautiful cottonwood tree grove was an important resting and camping site along the way.
Today people can take a leisurely stroll through the lovely cottonwood tree grove along the nearly one-mile long rustic walking path, fish in the river, and enjoy seeing birds and wildlife. Dogs are welcome and do not have to be on leash, but please do keep them under control and do not allow them to chase wildlife in the park. The water is still low (but cold), and it’s great fun to throw sticks for the dogs to fetch. The round rocks along the river’s edge are great for skipping rocks across the water and seeing who can skip theirs all the way to the other side of the river. The park is walk-in access only. There is a graveled pathway from the parking lot to the river overlook sign. The rest of the trail goes across the native soil. Wear comfortable walking shoes. It’s also fine to go off trail and just explore through the park. Deer and moose can often be seen and there are a wide variety of raptors and waterfowl in the area.
From Pinedale, take US 191 south 10 miles to Paradise Road (just north of Boulder), then travel south another 14 miles. (If you get to Hwy 351, you’ve gone about a mile too far). The Park and parking area will be on your left. Park your vehicle and take the footpath into the Park. The Historical Society is still in the process of building and fundraising for improving the infrastructure at the park, so note that the only bathroom currently onsite is an outhouse in the administrative area in the middle of the park. It is suggested to use the more modern restroom at the BLM campground just south of the park (access from US 351). They also hope to get picnic tables and a group gathering area constructed in the near future. The park is a “Pack it in – Pack it out” area for garbage. It is day-use only, no overnight camping and no campfires permitted.
There is no charge to visit the park, but the historical society always welcomes donations to help with upkeep and continue to put in improvements such as picnic tables, build a group area, expand the trail system, and put in more interpretive signs. Volunteers are also very welcome. There will be a work day/BBQ in the next couple of weeks to work on the trails, do spring clean up, cut logs for seating, spread native seed, repack the ADA trail, and more.
For questions or more information, see www.newforkpark.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Sublette County Historical Society at the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, 307-367-4101.
by Pinedale Online!
March 22, 2015