Carbon County Wyoming Ranches & Land
Population estimate, 2009: 15,720 2.0 persons/sq. mi.
Square miles: 7896
Approximate driving time from Cheyenne: 2 hours
Commercial Airport: None in county, Laramie Regional Airport one hour distant. General aviation airports at Saratoga and Rawlins.
Ski Areas: None in the county
Major Communities: Rawlins (8500), Rawlins (1700), Encampment (400), Baggs (300), Medicine Bow (300)
Elevations: 6000 to 11,000 feet
Major streams: North Platte River, Encampment River, Little Snake River, Medicine Bow River
Average ranch/farm size: 7570 acres (NAICS, 2007) vs. Wyoming average 2726 acres
Pros: Classic Wyoming scenery, abundant big game and trophy trout streams, good highway system
Cons: Wyoming winters, moderately remote
Carbon County, in south-central Wyoming, contains many features that make Wyoming an attractive Western locale for sportsmen. High forested mountains, expansive desert areas, lush ranches, extensive herds of big game and trophy trout streams all come together in a single county that many believe offers the best of Wyoming. Northern Carbon County is thinly-populated high desert, with significant herds of pronghorn and the world-famous “Miracle Mile” tailwater of the North Platte River. Much of this area is managed by the BLM. Southern Carbon County contains the lush Upper North Platte Valley and the high peaks of the Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre Mountains, mostly within the Medicine Bow National Forest. To the west, Carbon County takes in much of the drainage of the Little Snake River, which is largely unchanged ranching country since the 1800s.
Cattle ranching still dominates the economy of Carbon County, with energy development becoming increasingly important in the north. Large ranches exist throughout the county, and many of them control extensive river and stream mileage. For the most part, Carbon County is devoid of the “mini-ranch” development common elsewhere in the west, and retains a uncrowded, “classic western” character. The ranches with the greatest commercial, scenic and recreational value are found near Saratoga and those with North Platte riverfront command the highest prices. More reasonably prices ranches can be found along tributary streams or in the arid northern part of the county.
Hunting: The ecological diversity of Carbon County means that a tremendous variety of big game hunting exists within its borders. Pronghorn hunting is superb in the northern and western sections of the county, while mule deer and elk dominate the meadows and forests in the south and east. Carbon County contains a favorable mix of public and private lands, with good road access. Large ranches in the Saratoga Valley provide excellent winter range, particularly for elk. Whitetail deer can also be found in parts of the county, particularly along watercourses, as well as moose. Bighorn sheep, black bear and mountain lions are also hunted. The variety of big game available in Carbon County is as good as it gets in Wyoming.
Fishing: The North Platte River flows through Carbon County, and is one of the great brown and rainbow trout fisheries in the West. Some wade fishing is possible in the upper reaches near Sixmile Gap and in the Miracle Mile section below Seminoe Reservoir. Float fishing is very popular in the Saratoga area. North Platte trout frequently grow to the four- to five-pound range. In addition, smaller tributaries such as the Encampment River, Douglas Creek, Big Creek and French Creek also offer brown and rainbow fishing for trout up to 16 inches. Higher elevation streams near Saratoga often contain brook trout. The Little Snake River is an unsung fishery with good populations of rainbow trout from 12 to 18 inches, and some of the tributaries of the Little Snake contain populations of pure Colorado River cutthroats. Lake fishermen will want to explore the high lakes of the Medicine Bow mountains for brookies, cutthroats and rainbows. For anglers with a preference for large reservoirs, Seminoe Reservoir is massive, and holds rainbows, browns and walleyes. The only real limiting factor to consistently excellent fishing on public or private waters in Carbon County is occasional late-summer low and warm water in the North Platte, Little Snake and some tributaries as they are drawn down for hay irrigation. Excellent fishing returns in the fall.