The town of Dubois is nestled along the upper Wind River, rimmed by the Wind River and Absaroka mountains. Once headquarters for old-time cow outfits, railroad tie hack crews and river tie drives, Dubois is now the social center for upper Wind River livestock and dude ranches.
Noted for its hunting and fishing, the area contains some of the best big game hunting in western America. Many visitors seek out the Dubois area for its wide range of opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Togwotee Pass, between Dubois and Jackson Hole, is known for its deep powder ideal for Nordic Skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
The region is home to large herds of elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and mule deer.
Don’t Miss: Dubois is home to the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, where visitors can learn more about Wyoming’s magnificent and unique bighorns and the Dubois Museum, featuring artifacts from prehistoric Native Americans and memorabilia from Mountain Man explorers, century-old homesteads and guest ranches, and the tie hack woodsmen who helped build the railroads.
Dubois is situated in the “banana belt” of Wyoming with Chinook winds that help keep you cool in the summer and melt snow in the winter. The town has a diverse economy with working ranches, outfitters, artists, craftsmen, and loggers.
It was 1886 and they wanted to call their little settlement “Never Sweat”, a joke on the men of the area who seemed not to take work too seriously. But the federal government named it Dubois, after an Idaho senator of the era. Today, the town of Dubois is a quaint little community located along the Wind River, rimmed to the south by the Wind River mountains and to the north by the Absarokas. It’s an area of striking contrasts from the badlands east of town, to the high peaks south, north and west. Stop and stay awhile and see some of the sights.
Whiskey Mountain looms to the south and while several elk herds winter on Whiskey, even more take up winter residence on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Inberg-Roy management area on the East Fork of the Wind River. There, approximately 2,500 to 3,000 elk winter from mid-November to mid-April. Dubois is an area of great diversity in wildlife. Big game species include bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, moose, antelope and black bear. Cougar and grizzly bears are occasionally sighted, as are wolves. The area has a multitude of small wildlife species and migratory waterfowl.
Recreational opportunities in the Dubois country include many scenic areas, camping, fishing, hunting, horsepacking, hiking, photography and a large array of remarkable views for the artist. And that’s just in the summer. There’s a lot to do in the winter, too. The Upper Wind River Country has more than 150 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that have access to the Continental Divide Trail. The Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail has 360 miles from Lander to Yellowstone and it also connects to 665 miles of groomed trails. Ice fishing in the winter months is an exciting adventure, as is the dog sled ride at Brooks Lake near Togwotee Pass. Crosscountry skiers enjoy the packed snowmobile trails, or venture off trail for exciting telemark runs.
Completed in 1993, the center plays tribute to one of the most stunning of all North America’s big game animals, the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. Dubois is home to the largest wintering bighorn sheep herd in the Lower 48.
Since 1949, more than 2,000 sheep have been transplanted to Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, New Mexico and to other areas of Wyoming from the herd on Whiskey Mountain.
The center offers interpretive displays on the bighorn sheep as well as acting as a repository for research documents. A small mountain is the centerpiece of the 4,250-square-foot building. The mountain displays the sheep in its natural habitat.
There are 2.4 million acres of national forest, which surround Dubois. Of this acreage, 1.5 million acres are designated as wilderness, where mechanized equipment is now allowed. Gannett Peak, located in the Shoshone National Forest, is the highest peak in the Wind River Range, with an elevation of 13,804 feet. It is due south of Dubois, but it is hidden from sight by the foothills and peaks looming over the valley floor.
A memorial west of Dubois pays tribute to the timber harvesters of yesteryear. Timber harvesting has been a part of Dubois since its early settlement days, in 1914, timber harvesting began on the forests of the Upper Wind River in the DuNoir Valley, in order to supply railroad ties to the Chicago and Northwestern railroad. Thus began the era of the famous “Tie Hack” – the nickname for the job of cutting railroad ties.
During the Tie Hack era, ten million ties or approximately 40 million board feet of lumber was logged from the surrounding hills.
The main operation was run by the Wyoming Tie and Timber Company, whose employees were mostly Swedes and Norwegian immigrants. Their dedication to the drink, vigorous brawling and feats of strength brought to Dubois a colorful and lively bunch of characters.
Remnants of the flumes from this bygone era can still be seen west of Dubois. A 14-foot limestone monument overlooks the site of the Tie Camp.
Tours are offered to show off the Whiskey Mountain herd of bighorn sheep, the largest wintering herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in the world, the petroglyphs and sheep traps left behind by early Native Americans, and more.