- Lauren Marsh
Copper Mountain WSA
Updated: May 16
An oft-missed high desert wildland of Wyoming.
The 6,858 acres of Copper Mountain Wilderness Study Area are easy to miss, a blip along the drive up Highway 789, passengers' eyes focused instead on the vast expanse of Boysen Reservoir while anticipating the grandeur of Wind River Canyon just down the road. Part of the Bridger Mountains, a mirror of the nearby Owl Creeks, these sharply contoured hills and draws provide a rugged home for ungulates, cattle, introduced game birds, and desert-wanderers alike.
On my second visit here, this time in the company of geologist friends, the juniper-studded hills and craggy outcrops took on new shapes, new-to-me names. Sea-creature fossils, sinuous caves, and protruding cliff bands became the limestones and dolomites of the Madison Formation, the crumbling scree under our feet on the way up slope to these cliff bands became Darby Shale. We scratched translucent rocks with our fingernails -"Gypsum or Calcite?" - while munching on trail snacks, keeping a keen eye out for bighorns in the cliffs and clefts of exposed basement rock thrust upward by a nearby fault. "Did the river cut these hills? Or did the hills rise up around the river?" we mused.
Later, in the company of my upland bird hunting partner, dolomite became chukar hideouts; invasive cheatgrass, chukar smorgasbord; and semi-frozen snow puddles, chukar drinking fountains. We could hear the cackles of these introduced game birds reverberating through the draws as we sought out a few to share with our geologist friends for a birthday dinner over a campfire. No chukar for dinner that night, but a spectacular sunset and plenty of good banter more than made up for it. A small group of friends celebrating a birthday, sharing food, sharing community, in these high desert wildlands of Wyoming.
Soaking in nearby hot springs the next day, likely fed in part by snow melt from Copper Mountain WSA, we all expressed our gratitude for the enduring ruggedness and protection of this wild Wyoming landscape.
HELP PROTECT THESE WILD PLACES
We are currently campaigning for the Challenge For Charities fundraiser, put on by the Lander Community Foundation. Focused on Fremont County, where the Copper Mountain WSA resides, this fundraiser is vital to our BLM and Red Desert work, such as:
Involvement in the Rock Springs Field Office Resource Management Plan
Nominating Areas of Critical Environmental Concern
Partnering with TravelStorys to create an audio driving tour of the Red Desert
Public wildlands protections in Fremont county wildlands such as Whiskey Mountain, Dubois Badlands, the Shoshone National Forest and more.
Donating during Challenge For Charities is a great way for your support to make a greater impact, as we receive 100% of donations and a percentage from the matching fund on the first $10,000.
Giving Period: May 1-July 10, 2023
Race Day: July 4th, 2023
To donate, select "Wyoming Wilderness Association" under the 'Which fund would you like to donate to?' drop-down field on the LCF 'Donate' page.
Or, send a check payable to "Lander Community Foundation", designate Wyoming Wilderness Association in the memo, and send it to:
Lander Community Foundation
PO Box 1131
Lander, Wyoming 82520
Looking for a way to volunteer? Check out C4C opportunities Here
Want to learn more about our BLM work? Contact our BLM Wildlands Organizer, Lauren Marsh: email@example.com