North Absaroka Wilderness, Wyoming

This big wilderness area protects much of the northern part of Wyoming's Absaroka Range, a high and intricately eroded landscape of ancient volcanic debris. The wilderness adjoins the northeastern boundary of Yellowstone National Park for many miles.

It is easy to confuse the name "North Absaroka" with the nearby "Absaroka/ Beartooth Wilderness" in Montana. Other than proximity they have little similarity. The North Absaroka is an eroded pile of ancient volcanic ash and tuff, welded into breccias, which looks a lot like unfinished concrete. The Beartooth Mountains just a few miles away are huge uplift of hard granite, eroded by wind and water and chiseled by glaciers.

Adding to the confusion, at one time, most of the "Washakie Wilderness" to the south of the North Absaroka was named the "South Absaroka Wilderness". When this later area was reclassified, and the old "Stratified Primitive Area" on its immediate south was added, the whole area was renamed "Washakie." It would, therefore, seem reasonable to rename the North Absaroka because the name "South Absaroka" was no more. This obvious name update never happened.


The photograph below is of Pilot (left) and Index Peaks, the best known features of the North Absaroka Wilderness. This is due to their exceptional shape, height, and close location to the Wilderness's north boundary where there is a busy, but very scenic highway.
Pilot Peak (left) and Index Peak (right). Absaroka Range
Pilot (left) and Index Peak (right).
© Ralph Maughan

A substantial portion of the North Absaroka Wilderness burned during the Yellowstone fires of 1988. The Clover/Mist fire burned a large portion of the Absaroka Range in the NE corner of Yellowstone and then continued eastward into the North Absaroka Wilderness. The total burn perimeter enclosed about 500,000 acres.

The Wilderness is home to lots of grizzly bears, thousands of elk and several hundred bighorn sheep.  Several wolf packs claim part of the Wilderness as their home territory. Other than hunters in the fall, this big wild country sees little human  travel.
Peaks at the head of Republic Creek. North Absaroka Wilderness

Peaks at the head of Republic Creek.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

 

 

Hurricane Mesa. Absaroka Range
Hurricane Mesa with burned trees from the 1988 fires in the foreground
Copyright © Ralph Maughan

 

Sheep Mesa from North Absaroka Wilderness
Sheep Mesa in the Washakie Wilderness. Photographed from the North
Absaroka Wilderness. The photo shows the proximity of the two huge
Wilderness areas. The east entrance road to Yellowstone separates the two.
It is not in sight. Copyright © Ralph Maughan


North Absaroka Wilderness/ rev. last Sept. 15, 2005