Lander, Wyo.: Recreationist’s Paradise

Home to the internationally renowned National Outdoor Leadership School, this Rocky Mountain community located near the Wind River Reservation offers a Wild West feel and an fertile ground for outdoor adventure.

| October/November 2013

  • Lander Wyoming downtown scene
    Wide open space is more than a concept in Lander, Wyo.
    Photo By Charles Willgren
  • Lander, Wyoming mountain range
    Map Reading in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.
    Photo By Rainbow Weinstock

  • Lander Wyoming downtown scene
  • Lander, Wyoming mountain range

Each year, MOTHER EARTH NEWS selects a handful of communities to highlight in our annual Great Places feature. Check out the other towns featured in our 2013 installment of 9 Great Places You've (Maybe) Never Heard of.

Lander, Wyoming. Given its location in the northern Rocky Mountains, next to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho’s Wind River Reservation, the only way not to see spectacular scenery in Lander would be to lock yourself in a windowless room. Sitting on your porch watching afternoon thunderheads boil over the purple-mountain horizon is one of the simple joys of Lander life.

Geographically the ninth-largest U.S. state, Wyoming is also the least populated — home to more cattle and antelope than people. If hunting, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and world-class rock climbing fit your description of the good life, Lander may seem like a slice of heaven to you.

“It’s a recreationist’s paradise,” says Bruce Palmer, who, as director of admissions and marketing for the internationally renowned National Outdoor Leadership School, knows great recreation when he sees it. He and his wife relocated to Lander from Cleveland in 1990 and have never regretted the move.

For Rita Peterson and her husband, Mark, living in Lander provides the perfect opportunity to combine life in a community with a satisfying degree of living off the land. The quality she especially appreciates is that their lifestyle doesn’t isolate the couple from their community — self-sufficiency is just a way of life in Lander. “You can go out and cut your own wood, hunt, fish, put up your food — it’s all here,” Peterson says. “It’s just what people do.”

Originally a ranching community, Lander still has a vivid Wild West vibe. It’s home to Wyoming Catholic College, as well as to the Wyoming office of The Nature Conservancy, the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Wyoming Trout Unlimited, and other organizations devoted to preserving habitat and a healthy environment. Lander also attracts vigorous retirees who utterly reject the idea of spending their “third act” sitting in a rocking chair.

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