At the foothills of southern Wind River Mountains in west-central Wyoming lies Sinks Canyon State Park dominating its eastern slopes. At an elevation of 6,112 feet, the park encompasses 600 acres of spectacular views of the area, gorgeous mountain scenery, dramatic views of rocks, and rushing rivers. The park is endowed with many recreational outdoor activities to keep you busy and enjoy your RV vacation. Within the park are scenic hiking trails, a visitors’ center, and amazing rock climbing opportunities.
However, the single most coveted activity is viewing the unique geological formations in the park, known as "The Sinks" and "The Rise." The Sinks is a peculiar geology where the Popo Agie River mysteriously disappears into a mountain cave. The water reemerges a quarter mile downstream into a calm pool called The Rise. There are multiple overlooks where you can watch this vanishing river. Although the exact path followed by the water is unknown, researchers have found out the quantity of water exiting at The Rise is more than the amount entering at The Sinks. With a paved trail connecting The Sinks and The Rise, the hike down has the most rewarding views of the canyon riparian ecosystem.
While driving your motorhome to your campsite, you will note that the park sits on different habitats, each with its unique vegetation. On the base of the southern slopes, the park is characterized by semi-arid vegetation including sagebrush, while the southern slopes bordering the Shoshone National Forest are covered with giant alpines, pine and fir trees. With 24 sites spread across Sinks Canyon State Park campgrounds, RV campers will no doubt love the ambiance of the park.
RV Rentals in Sinks Canyon State Park
Transportation in Sinks Canyon State Park
Located six miles away from the town of Lander, Sinks Canyon State Park can be accessed via Highway 31. The improved dirt road up the mountain has tight and steep switchbacks which can easily be navigated with extra care. There are plenty of parking spaces including outside the yurts, picnic areas, and in the campgrounds. Sections of the park sitting at high elevation experience snow leading to temporary road closures during winter.
Campgrounds and parking in Sinks Canyon State Park
Campsites in Sinks Canyon State Park
All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. Reservations are no accepted for campsites. However, yurts are open for reservations.
There are only five first-come, first-served campsites within this campground. The rest of the area mostly serves as a day use area. Campsites can only accommodate small RVs and trailers.
Popo Agie Campground
This is the largest and the most popular RV campground with 24 primitive campsites. You'll find a picnic table and fire ring at your site. Vault toilets and drinking water are centrally located. Pets are welcome as long as they stay on a leash. Since there are no hookups within the campground, visitors are permitted to use generators during designated hours.
All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. Lander is the closest town where campers can have access to a dump station, shower, groceries, fuel, and restaurants.
This campground also houses four rental yurts. Yurts are the only accommodations which can be reserved up to four months in advance. Yurts can accommodate between six to 10 people.
Seasonal activities in Sinks Canyon State Park
Exploring the Visitors Center
The Visitors Center is not only interesting but also educational. From May to September visitors can spend time here learning about different recreational exhibits housed in this center. From local rocks types and wildlife exhibits to information pertaining to The Sinks, the center is rich in the park’s natural history. Guests love starting their park’s itinerary here. Also, you can purchase trail maps and guides from this fascinating center.
At the point where the water returns to the surface, there is a pool where kids, as well as adults, can feed the giant trout. Although anglers are not permitted to fish in this area they can enjoy watching cutthroat, brook, and rainbow trouts that are native to the rise section of Middle Fork Popo Agie River. Anglers are free to fish anywhere else along the rushing river deep holes. A Wyoming fishing license is required for anglers above 14 years of age. If you don’t have a license you can easily purchase it online or drive to Lander where there are many licensed sellers available.
Though the disappearing river is the most popular of the park’s attraction, there are many areas to explore once inside the park. If you visit in summer you will fully appreciate the sinkhole by taking a short hike to the sinks. Another interesting hike is the Falls Trail that cuts through the rocky terrain of the scenic red canyon giving visitors awesome views of the cascading falls, mountains, and the river.
If you are looking for a scenic spot to enjoy your picnic lunch then Sinks Canyon State Park has a large day-use area overlooking the canyon cliffs. The Sawmill Picnic Area is available on a first-come-first-served basis. For family reunions and large gatherings, there is a group picnic shelter that can be reserved. There is a playground and volleyball net to keep the picnickers active.
Besides enhancing the beauty of the sinking river canyon, the sandstone cliff walls make for a great rock climbing destination. Comprising of huge granite and limestone outcroppings the rocks offer adventurous visitors different levels of challenge. Known as one of the most climber friendliest destination in Lander, Sinks Canyon State Park has both trad and sport routes.
Birding and Wildlife Viewing
Sinks Canyon State Park is home to mammals, reptiles, and variety of birds. It will be priceless if you could hike in the morning or in the evening when bighorn sheep, deer, and black bears are roaming in the park. If you are lucky enough you can spot black bears and porcupines in the alpine forest. At least 90 avian species are known to inhabit the park. Depending on the habitat, visitors can spot eagles nesting on the pine trees, prairie falcons in the grassland region, and raptors in canyon cliffs. Rattlesnakes and bull snakes inhabit the area as well.