Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
3.06 mi (4.92 km)
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Devil’s Kitchen, while seldom visited by  anyone other than climbers, is one of the true gems of western Wyoming. Its hidden away and difficult to reach location, due to a combination of private land rights, reservation territory, and rough ATV trails, limits access only to those who really want it. Still, for those with a capable vehicle looking to get away from the crowds of the Wind River Range and Sinks Canyon, it’s a peaceful place to spend the day.

While Devil’s Kitchen itself is located on national forest land, you’ll need to cross Shoshone Reservation Land to get there (thanks to a rancher who so callously closed off all access roads from the south). That means you’ll need land access and recreation permit in the form of a fishing and hunting license ($20 day or an annual $90 for Wyoming residents and $130 for out-of-state visitors), as well as a recreation sticker for your vehicle ($10). You can obtain this permit either at the Shoshone & Arapahoe Fish and Game Office in Fort Washakie (just behind the Hines General Store that marks your turn off from the highway), or Wind River Outdoor Co or Wild Iris Mountain Sports in Lander.

After the long dirt road slog to get to the parking (be sure to double-check the driving directions), you’ll find yourself in the Shoshone National Forest. One of the gates crossed on the drive in marks the border between the Shoshone Reservation and the national forest, which thus also draws the line between rock walls that are allowed to be bolted and climbed. If you are reading this as a climber, please DO NOT BOLT on reservation land.  It is strictly prohibited and hugely disrespectful. Hikers and other visitors must also exercise the same respect with unobtrusive travel on the way to this beautiful place.

From the parking, follow a good trail southbound.  The trail is easy to follow for the first few hundred yards. However, once you reach the top of the hill and the towering walls of Devil’s Kitchen appear in the valley below, you may lose the trail among a series of large rock slabs and steps you’ll need to descend down into the valley.  Most of the going here is easy, but there are some sections where scrambling is required.  For the most part, the trail is well-marked with cairns that you'll find with some searching (note they are significantly easier to spot on the way down than up, so it’s worth being mindful of the path you take down so you remember it when going back up).

At the bottom of the valley, you’ll find yourself on the banks of the North Fork of the Popo Agie River. If you’ve followed the cairns correctly, you should come upon the easiest place to cross, though if you wandered off “trail" there are other opportunities that are more or less difficult depending on the water level.

The boulder field on the other side of the river and the walls towering above it are known as Upper Devil’s Kitchen or the Upper Kitchen, for short. There is actual bouldering among these rock monsters, so it’s a fun spot for climbing, but not so great as a destination otherwise, and therefore your sights should be set on the Lower Kitchen, located in a lower valley tucked behind the main Upper Kitchen massif to the southeast. 

To reach it, either scramble laterally across the boulder slope on the far side or follow the river via its bed and shores (which is more or less possible depending on the summer month and water levels) until you reach a huge waterfall. You’ll hear it before you get there, so don’t worry about finding yourself suddenly on the edge.  At this point, your only way down is through the bushwack down through the forest on the right (south) side of the river. Long pants are recommended, as there are lots of downed trees and wild rose bushes just waiting to scratch your legs.

At the bottom, keep going toward the river (passing another few big boulders that have obviously been climbed). The river here is the real stunner, with huge rock ledges overhanging swirling chutes and waterfalls that funnel into deep crystalline pools. On a hot day, it’s perfect for swimming and the fishing is also supposedly pretty decent as well (you’ll already have a permit, after all!). Plan to spend a fair bit of time in this beautiful remote spot where you’ll likely not see another soul.  Just be sure to leave yourself enough daylight for the long uphill slog out.

Even though it’s only roughly 1.5 miles from the parking lot to the Lower Kitchen, the terrain is difficult enough (both there and back) that the hike will feel far longer.  Plus, considering you drop over 1,000 feet in elevation that gets climbed on the way back, it makes for slow hiking.  Expect to average only about 1 mile per hour and to bring plenty of drinking water (or a filter of some sort like the MSR trailshot).  Despite the shade the walls cast over the Upper Kitchen, it can get extremely hot here in the summer.

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Fee for fishing license

Open Year-round

No

Open from

June 01 to October 01

Pros

Solitude. Little to no traffic. Unique vistas and terrain. Swimming and fishing opportunities and rock climbing.

Cons

Bushwacking through thorns. Many sections of unmarked trail, difficult routefinding and strenuous terrain.

Trailhead Elevation

8,220.00 ft (2,505.46 m)

Highest point

8,220.00 ft (2,505.46 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Fishing
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Location

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