This hike is more about exploration than it is about following a clear trail to a destination. That said, it is one of my favorite places to explore close to town, particularly with kids. You’ll be poking around in a slickrock fantasy land with domes, potholes, hoodoes and other whimsical features to explore. There are some exposed edges, so make sure you have a handle on your kids. But there are also lots of places where its safe for them to scramble and play on their own. I love the area in the spring especially, as the wildflowers soften the desert and add color to the scenery. But you can come out here almost anytime of year. Just beware of rattlesnakes. I've never actually encountered a snake out here, but it's prime habitat so use caution when you step down off edges or reach up on to a ledge.
What Makes It Great
You have two options once you leave your car. If you are out exploring with little kids, I recommend you just head east to the closest rocks and start wandering around.
For a longer exploration, we suggest hiking up the two-track for a mile or so. It will turn to the northeast and descend into a small valley. On the left side, you’ll see the buff-colored Nugget Sandstone building up into rounded blobs of rock that stretch off toward the north. This section of slickrock offers some of the best exploration. It’s hard to get lost. The cliffs angle away from you toward the northwest, dropping off sharply to the west and ending in sagebrush to the east, so you have boundaries that help you keep your bearings.
Who is Going to Love It
There’s plenty of scrambling in here to keep toddlers fascinated for a few hours. Bring a picnic and you can make a day of it.
A little exploring will bring you to some big potholes that hold water late into the summer. If you search, you may find a small window in the rock. Limber pines and juniper provide some shade, so often you can explore out here comfortably even in the summer. It's a great spot for all ages. In fact, I can't think of a more romantic place to bring a picnic and bivy for the night with a special someone.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To explore the area, drive south of Lander on highway 28 toward South Pass. After 17 miles, look for a turnoff on your right. Turn into the road, passing through a gate. (Make sure to leave the gate as you found it.)
Once through you can park here, or if you have four-wheel drive or the roads are in good shape, you can drive farther down to one of a number of different pullouts. There’s no “right” place to start, but you’ll get closer to the slickrock if you drive down the road a little way.