Nestled against the foothills of the Wind River Range, Lander has always been a frontier town. Originally established as a fort on a spur of the Oregon Trail, it was later the end of the rail line and a frequent haunt of outlaws and horse thieves. It is also the gateway to the Wind River Indian Reservation, where indigenous Eastern Shoshone share 2.2 million acres of land with displaced Northern Arapaho at the base of the state's tallest peak.
This wilderness playground landed on the radar of savvy outdoorspeople when Paul Petzoldt started the renowned National Outdoor Leadership School here in 1965. The epic climbing at Sinks Canyon and nearby Wild Iris brings climbers in droves, while expanding mountain-bike trails diversifies that crowd.
But the town's remoteness means few stay for long, leaving Lander in relative peace, retaining its mellow blend of the Old and New West.