Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
719.00 ft (219.15 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.75 mi (7.64 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Johnny Behind the Rocks is a beloved playground for Lander locals of all kinds. Whether a rancher looking to give their horse a little exercise, a hiker with only a couple of hours to spare, a single-track mountain biker, or a rock climber looking to take advantage of some of the regions easiest-to-access boulders, Johnny Behind the Rocks has a little something for everyone.

To reach it, take HWY 287 south from Lander and turn left towards Muddy Gap/Rawlins. After 8 miles from the turn, you’ll see more and more red rock. Be on the lookout for a small “Johnny Behind the Rocks” sign pointing left and a large circular parking lot shortly after. Park here.

It's popularity is largely due to the fact that it’s so close in proximity to Lander and has so many options for short 1-3 hours hikes. Considering so much of the hiking in the surrounding Lander area involved multi-day backpacking into the Wind River Mountains, Johnny Behind the Rocks is a low-commitment rarity for the area.

Aside from its ease of access, Johnny Behinds the Rocks attracts many because of its unique geology. This mini red rock desert presents some of the most unique terrains in the area, carved out of red Chugwater rock and cream sandstone.

Johnny Behind the Rocks is located mostly on BLM land but the BLM collaborates closely with the local cycling club to keep the trails maintained. Do your part by staying on trail, not riding in overly wet conditions, and carrying out all trash. Also please do not ride on the trails when they are muddy, as it ruins the tracks. The area is very dry and thus the trails dry out quickly; don't be too impatient. Hikers should also beware of muddy conditions. If you encounter unforeseen mud, try to stay on the snow or firmer edges instead.

While there are many different hiking options you can take within this area, one of the most popular is the intermediate Johnny's Draw to Red Ridge Trail loop. It features some of the most unique and varied terrain of all the options.  

From inside the gate, you can either go left or right, thus doing the loop clockwise or counterclockwise, respectively. Neither are particularly strenuous but it’s generally recommended to go counterclockwise as this way leads with the less-spectacular draw with increasingly better scenery along the way.

If going counterclockwise, you’ll begin by climbing most of your elevation for one mile up Johnny’s Draw. As you approach the saddle of the mountain, you’ll reach the Four Corners intersection. All intersections here are well signed so just follow the left trail pointing toward Red Ridge.

Wind through sage prairies, juniper forests, and red rock canyons until you make your way to the stunning red, aptly named for its striations of bright red Chugwater rock. To the right, enjoy a stunning view of Wind River Mountains and the valley below. The trail is gravy here so take it all in. Descent a gentle downward slope for most of the way until a steeper descent right above the parking lot. Be sure to watch for cyclists on this extra narrow section!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Unique landscape. Wind River Mountains views. Close to other adventures.

Cons

Frequently muddy. Shared trail with bikes and horses.

Trailhead Elevation

5,620.00 ft (1,712.98 m)

Highest point

6,032.00 ft (1,838.55 m)

Features

Wildlife
Big vistas
Horseback riding
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.

You May Also Enjoy

Half Moon Bay State Park, California
Half Moon Bay State Park, California