Background of the Wind River Reservation

Page Developed by: Raphaella Stump

The Wind River Indian Reservation is a large 2.2 Million acre reservation of which 1.8 Million acres are owned by the Shoshone and Arapahoe Tribes. The reservation is located in west central Wyoming and is a vast part of Fremont County. The reservation known to the Shoshonean people as “Warm Valley” is surrounded by the Wind River Mountain Range to the west, the Owl Creek Mountain Range to the north, and Absaroka Mountains to the south. On the southwest and western boundaries of the reservation are the Bridger-Teton National Forest, with the Shoshone National Forest to the northwest. One hundred and thirty miles northwest of the reservation are the Greater Yellowstone National Park and the Teton National Park. Much of the reservation’s natural environment is in a pristine state of being and some parts have never been touched or walked on by humans. Both the Shoshone and Arapahoe Tribes are strongly tied to the land, water, and sky through basic tribal customs and traditions.

There are 365 fresh water lakes and reservoirs; on the Reservation, creating over 10,000 surface acres of water. The Reservation has over 1,100 miles of river streams, and waterways which are some of the most scenic in the State of Wyoming, and a lot of these waterways provide for a blue-ribbon fisheries. Some of the major highways through the Reservation run parallel to these waterways which creates a great concern for Highway Safety. Reason these roadways follow the rivers and streams so close, these waterways have cut natural passageways through the hills and mountains, which provided the means of early access to Transportation canoe and other makeshift watercraft.

The reservation communities are Fort Washakie, Crowheart, Ethete, Arapahoe, Mill Creek, Boulder Flats, and Johnstown. Also on the reservation are the towns of Hudson, Pavillion, and Riverton, Wyoming. Just off the Reservation are the towns of Lander, Shoshoni, and Dubois, Wyoming, all these towns are in Fremont County. The distance from Lander to Dubois across the reservation is approximately 120 miles on U.S. Highway 287, and from Riverton to Dubois on U.S. Highway 26 approximately 95 miles through the Reservation. From Riverton to Shoshoni on U.S. Highway 789 is approximately 21 miles, and from Riverton to Lander on U.S. Highway 789 is approximately 36 miles. The reservation roadway of 17-mile Road is a major thoroughfare for inside reservation travel which is currently under construction with portions being in plan and design status. Total reservation road miles are 1,205,595, which includes Federal and State highways 127, 824 miles, Fremont and Hot Springs Counties, 961,793 miles, and BIA Routes 142, 684 improved road miles. 

According to the 1990 census the population of the reservation is 21,851. The population of each tribe totals to 10,450 enrolled members.  A Wind River Indian Needs Determination Survey (WINDS-2) 1999, was recently completed that was a follow-up of a survey completed in 1987 (WINDS), the follow-up was  conducted by the Tribes, through the University of Wyoming in partnership with John Hopkins University.
These photos are copyright materials from the Wisconsin University done by Louis J. Maher, Jr. called “Geology by Light Plane” in 2001.  You may reference other photos for Wyoming at


Wind River Mountains and Bull Lake in the background.


Dinwoody Lake




Boysen Resevoir


Wind River Canyon to Thermopolis

Wind River Mountains and Lakes


© Sam Silverhawk 1997-2000. All Rights Reserved.