A Guide To Wyoming’s Big Spring Scenic Backway
The Big Spring Scenic Backway meanders through the southern portion of Bridger-Teton National Forest and offers a quintessential Wyoming road experience with minimal traffic, opportunities to spot wildlife, and expansive views of surrounding scenery.
Getting To Big Spring Scenic Backway
To access the Big Spring Scenic Backway in Wyoming, you have two primary options. If you’re coming from Cokeville, make your way onto WY-232/County Rd 204, which will lead you to Forest Rd 10062 and the Backway. If you’re starting from Kemmerer, take US-189 N, which turns into Wyoming State Hwy 233 and eventually leads you to Hams Fork Rd and the beginning of Big Spring Scenic Backway.
Things To See & Do Along Big Spring Scenic Backway
Points of Interest
The points of interest along the Big Spring Scenic Backway provide some insight into the area’s history and ecosystem. From the historic sites that reveal the stories of early settlers and forest rangers to the natural features that showcase the diverse flora and fauna, each point of interest offers some perspective on what makes the region unique.
Big Spring, the attraction from which the Big Spring Scenic Backway gets its name, emerges gracefully from the hillside, forming a picturesque cascade of water. Nearby, the Big Spring Scenic Picnic Site provides a delightful setting for relaxation and enjoyment. Equipped with tables, benches, and fire rings, it offers a convenient picnic spot in the scenic surroundings.
KELLEY GUARD STATION
Kelley Guard Station is a historic site that offers visitors a glimpse into the past. Originally built in 1933, the station served as a base for forest rangers. Today, the area is a gateway to a variety of recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, snowmobiling, and more. The Kelley Guard Station cabin is also available for overnight guests, offering a unique chance to experience the rustic charm of the historic site.
ELK CREEK GUARD STATION INTERPRETIVE SITE
The Elk Creek Guard Station, constructed in 1914, holds significant historical value as a symbol of early Forest Service operations. It played a vital role in overseeing livestock, regulating timber activities, and maintaining fire control in the Hams Fork region. As one of the few remaining cabins of its kind, the Elk Creek Guard Station stands as the oldest administrative and interpretive site in its original location within the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
COAL CREEK INTERPRETIVE SITE
At Coal Creek Interpretive Site, visitors can gain insights into the unique geology of the area through interpretive displays and informative signage.
From hiking through rolling hills to casting a line into crystal-clear streams and rivers, the Big Spring Scenic Backway provides access to a variety of recreational opportunities. Whether you seek thrilling adventures or a tranquil retreat, this scenic route presents a playground of possibilities.
Hams Fork Campground is a beautiful campground located along the Hams Fork River, which offers excellent fishing opportunities. This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets, and is a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area. Dispersed camping is also allowed along much of Big Spring Scenic Backway.
HIKING & HORSEBACK RIDING
The Big Spring Scenic Backway provides access to a variety of non-motorized trails and areas for recreation including hiking and horseback riding. One place to start exploring is at the Hams Fork Trailhead, conveniently located near the Hams Fork Campground. You’ll also find some trails in the Kelley Guard Station area. For those willing to venture slightly off the main route, a couple of other areas to start from are Big Park Trailhead and Contag Trailhead.
One notable recommendation a little farther off Big Spring Scenic Backway is the hike to Lake Alice, which rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas and the tranquility of the alpine lake. For even more adventure, camping at the Lake Alice Campground gives hikers the opportunity to slow down, extend their stay, and fully appreciate the beauty of the surroundings.
As you travel towards Big Spring Scenic Backway from Kemmerer, you will pass Lake Viva Naughton and several public access points along the Hams Fork River. Once you enter the Bridger-Teton National Forest, you’ll find excellent fishing access near the Hams Fork Campground. The Kelley Guard Station area is another notable spot for fishing.
With numerous designated trails and off-road areas, Bridger-Teton National Forest offers ample opportunities for OHV and ATV exploration. Along Big Spring Scenic Backway, there are many forest service roads where riders can traverse diverse terrain.
During the winter months, the southern area of Bridger-Teton National Forest offers winter recreation opportunities. Visitors can explore the forest on miles of groomed trails and enjoy the winter scenery. A few of the areas for snowmobiling within the national forest area Hams Fork Ridge Snowmobile Trail, Big Park Loop Snowmobile Trail, and the Kelley Guard Station area. Please note that for most of the winter months, Big Spring Scenic Backway is not passable with a vehicle, so these snowmobile trails must be accessed via the Viva Naughton Trailhead. Some of these areas may also be suitable for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Also located along the Big Spring Scenic Backway route near Cokeville is Pine Creek Ski Resort. It’s a family-owned resort that offers a downhill skiing experience with a laidback atmosphere and no crowds. Skiers and snowboarders of all levels can carve their way down the slopes, enjoying the fresh mountain air and the adrenaline rush of the descent.
Tips & Reminders
When preparing for a drive along the Big Spring Scenic Backway in Wyoming, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, be aware that this road is unpaved and remote, so expect some rough terrain along the way. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended for a smoother experience. Also, be prepared for limited phone service. Be sure to bring paper maps and/or download maps beforehand.
For the most enjoyable experience, we recommended driving the Big Spring Scenic Backway during the summer months, from June through September. During this time, the road conditions are typically favorable, allowing for easier navigation. The fall colors are beautiful along this route so that’s also a good time of year to take this scenic drive, if you have the opportunity. Winter months bring snow and ice, often making the road impassable for regular vehicles.