Galloping across the prairie with manes and tails flying and hooves kicking up dust, there is nothing more iconic in the West than a wild horse. One of the best places to see wild horses in Wyoming is on the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop Tour.
Drive the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop
The drive, which can start in Green River or Rock Springs, skitters roughly 23 miles along good, gravel-base roads on the mesa-like summit of White Mountain. On this route, you will gain many chances to spy on variety of horses, including black, spotted-paint, appaloosa and sorrel (chestnut-colored) breeds. Pilot Butte Wile Horse Loop also supplies panoramic views of the Wyoming Range to the west, the Wind River Range to the northeast and the Uinta Range to the south.
Horses aren't the only animals on the landscape. Pronghorn antelope, with their tawny-and-white coats, coal-black horns and skittish nature, appear from time to time. Sage grouse, coyotes and rabbits also live here, and there's always a chance to spot hawks and eagles overhead. Read more about where to spot Wyoming wildlife.
To begin the loop from Rock Springs, take exit 104 off Interstate 80 to U.S. 191 and continue north 14 miles to County Road 14. Turn left and head 2.5 miles to County Road 53, also on your left. From Green River, exit Interstate 80 at Flaming Gorge Way, turn left onto Trona Drive at the next intersection and follow it north as it turns into a dirt road and passes beneath the interstate.
From start to finish, the loop covers roughly 50 miles and can easily take half a day, especially if you pack a lunch to enjoy along the way. Be sure to carry plenty of water, binoculars, a full tank of gas and a spare tire.
What to Look For
A handful of kiosks located along the route delve into the origin of the horses (most are descendants of horses turned out long ago by the region's ranchers) and outline the area's geography and history. Whether you spot them racing like the wind, clustered around a waterhole or grazing contentedly, wild horses evoke a bit of the Old West, shuttling visitors back to the 1800s.
While it is rumored that the best time to look for some of the 800 to 1,000 horses in the 392,000-acre White Mountain Management Area is from sunrise until about 9am or 10 am, you might get lucky any time of day.
When you go, check with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (307-352-0256) to see if they're conducting any wild horse roundups or auctions. At the Rock Springs Field Office along U.S. 191 just 1.5 miles north of Interstate 80, there’s a viewing area overlooking the corrals where the roundups conclude and the auctions are held.
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