The Breccia Cliffs towering above Brooks Lake casting an amazing reflection upont the calm waters of the lake
The Breccia Cliffs towering above Brooks Lake casting an amazing reflection upont the calm waters of the lake
Brooks Lake
The Pinnicle Buttes and Brooks Lake
The Pinnicle Buttes and Brooks Lake

Nestled in a small mountain valley high in the Absaroka Mountains west of Dubois Wyoming is an alpine nirvana that brings me back time after time; Brooks Lake. Towering above the 234-acre Brooks Lake and its mosquitoes to the south is Pinnacle Peak, a geological wonder a series of spires stacked up on the most pleasant of ways. Pinnacle Buttes are in the Togwotee Group of the Absaroka Range of Wyoming. The highest butte of the massif (usually referred to in the singular form as Pinnacle Butte) is also the highest peak of the Togwotee Group. The formation is loosely referred to as "the pinnacles". A regional postcard icon, if you ask locally for "the pinnacles", fingers will point at this massif. To the north is the amazing escarpment, the Breccia Cliffs; Breccia Peek is made of volcanic Absorka breccia, what explains its name.

Tucked away in the Shoshone National Forest in northwestern Wyoming surrounded by over 800,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness, recreational possibilities in the area are endless. Brooks Lake is open to the public, and fishing is allowed year round. A boat launch grants anglers and boaters access to the sparkling water. Most water sports are permitted with the exception of jet skiing and water skiing. Anglers can expect to catch rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout (mackinaw), and splake. Ice fishing is available in winter for the adventurous fisherman. The area receives significant snowfall, and many trails and lakes are still snow or ice covered well into June.

Hikers, climbers, cross county skiers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find several trails that lead into the rugged beauty of the Wind River Mountains and the Teton wilderness. Upper Jade Lake, Upper Brooks Lake, and Rainbow Lake are within walking distance of Brooks Lake all provide good fishing and the opportunity or curse of seeing a grizzly bear in the wild. In addition to bears, hikers will want to be on the lookout for wolves which are usually wary of humans but if lucky you might see some.

Canoeing and Kayaking is popular on Brooks Lake but not as popular as the fishing
Canoeing and Kayaking is popular on Brooks Lake but not as popular as the fishing

This mountain basin at the end of the road is also the beginning of many backcountry wilderness hunts; hunters hike and pack in too ever direction during hunting season.  Some drop down into the Thorofare River area, and many head north up the Absaroka Range hoping to find that trophy elk or mule deer, but often just for some meat for the freezer and an excuse to spend some time with friends in the wilderness.

The historic Brooks Lake Lodge is perched above the lake and today is operated as a guest ranch and snowmobile resort, closed to the public in summer however open for lunch in the winter for the snowmobiler or cross country skier.  Brooks Lake had no winter access by car, as the road isn’t plowed. The Lodge, which is listed on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places, was built in 1922. Known at the time as the Two-Gwo-Tee Inn, the Lodge first served as a stopover for vacationers headed to Yellowstone National Park. A marvelous log structure that I wish was open to the public in summer.

The Brooks Lake Basin survived a bid to drill for the oil beneath the lake back in the 1990’s, but because of the stunning setting even some of the oil developers had trepidation about drilling there. There is enough oil in the basin to run the country for 4-days (quite a bit) but thankfully the fight to stop it was successful.  Wyoming has plenty of sagebrush desert to satiate their need for oil and gas development and the prettiest of places must remain off limits.

Sadly this is also a forest devastated by bark beetles and a good half of the trees are dead and I have seen this forest die.   The first time I came to Brooks Lake in 1987 it was a Green wonderland, still beautiful though.  Every time I see a puff a smoke in the vicinity I hope lightning has struck the dead forest so it can burn and start it’s rebirth. Fire is about the only thing that will kill a bark beetle infestitation. .  In the absence of fire, at least Shoshone National Forest, unlike Bridger Teton National Forest is doing some mitigation logging.  This will reduces the chance of fire and expedite the rebirth of the forest. The stunning beauty of the setting of the Lake far outweighs the blemish of the dying forest, I return often but don’t forget your bug and bear spray.

A hiker takes in the beauty of Upper Jade Lake about a one mile hike from Brooks Lake.
A hiker takes in the beauty of Upper Jade Lake about a one mile hike from Brooks Lake. Look closely and you will notice how dead the forest is yet how it doesn't greatly diminish the great beauty of the place.

 

 

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I have spent thousands of hours researching for, and creating content to create a market for my photography, for 35+ years I have been roaming this land for landscape and adventure photos and content for this effort. although this was the  greatest of adventures exploring every corner of the Greater Yellowstone and sharing it some compensation would be greatly appreciated.

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