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Oregon Trail, near South Pass, Wyoming

It is almost incomprehensible that, in the early 1800's, around a quarter million emigrants passed this way in their west-bound wagons across this wide, wild, windswept mountain pass through Wyoming's red desert. Once across South Pass, perhaps the oldest trail in continuous use across the Rockies, the pioneers could say they had entered the Oregon Territory.

At 7,412 feet elevation, the trail through the rolling prairie and sagebrush between the Wind River Range and the Oregon Buttes was considered an easy passage. But standing in the still silence of these wagon ruts, one can sense the determination required to overcome the loneliness of this place that, except for the nearby Wyoming roadway, is otherwise bereft of life.

Lander, the nearest town of any size and home to the National Outdoor Leaderships School is surprisingly cosmopolitan and a cultural center for Southwest Wyoming. The Wind River Range outside Lander is renowned for its hunting, hiking and mountain climbing opportunities and a significant portion of its population is actively involved in the outdoor recreation industry.

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