N.P.S Designates New National Trail in Southeast Wyoming
Written by Andrew-Rossi on June 8, 2021
The Confluence Trail between the Laramie and North Platte Rivers near the historic Fort Laramie is the latest National Park Service destination in Wyoming.
On Friday, June 4, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland officially designated ten new national trails throughout the United States. Wyoming was one of eight states to gain a new trail of natural and historical significance.
“As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and our nation takes a collective and cautious sigh of relief, we need recreational resources now more than ever to strengthen physical, social, and mental health across our country,” said Secretary Haaland. “National recreation trails boost local economies, provide communities with safe, equitable access to the outdoors. This National Trails Day, I hope everyone finds time to enjoy the great outdoors.”
Wyoming’s new Confluence Trail is another historic offering at the Fort Laramie National Historic Site. It incorporates a still-standing historic U.S. Army bridge from the 1870s and a mature cottonwood and willow forest.
According to the N.P.S.’s official website for the new national trail:
“The Confluence Trail follows a 1.6-mile lasso loop from the south parking lot of the Old Army Bridge to the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers and back. Waysides explore the changing crossings of the North Platte – from fords and ferries to the still-standing wrought iron bridge of 1875-6. The trail also takes visitors through a mature gallery forest of cottonwood and willow along the banks of both rivers.
While they meander across a sandy bottom like many waterways on the Great Plains, both rivers are still relatively fast-flowing and can have deep holes. Exercise caution near the water.”
According to the National Park Service’s website, “the National Trails System Act of 1968, as amended, calls for establishing trails in both urban and rural settings for people of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities.” The National Trails System promotes the enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access.
There is no additional federal funding for the maintenance of national trails. The NPS encourages public and private agencies to work with local communities to preserve these historic routes.
New national trails were also designated in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. In total, the trails cover over 160 miles of American soil.
Each of the new trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers, and a letter of recognition.
Wyoming is now home to 12 official N.P.S. designated sites, including five recognized trails.
In addition to the national parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton,) Wyoming is home to Devils Tower and Fossil Butte National Monuments. There are also the Bighorn Canyon and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Areas and Fort Laramie National Historic Site.
Four national trails already wind their way thru Wyoming. Those trails are the California, Mormon Pioneer, Oregon, and Pony Express.
The website Outdoorsy ranked Wyoming as the 25th best state for an N.P.S. adventure. This ranking was determined by the number of N.P.S. sites and their yearly revenue.