Sinks Canyon State Park Lander, WY
Sinks Canyon State park is located 6 miles south of Lander on Highway 131. What are the Sinks and the Rise? Sinks Canyon is so named because the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie, a rushing mountain river, flows out of the Wind River Mountains and through the Canyon. Halfway down the canyon the river abruptly turns into a large limestone cavern, and the crashing water "sinks" into fissures and cracks at the back of the cave. The river is underground for 1/4 mile until it emerges down canyon in a large calm pool called "The Rise" and then continues its course into the valley below. Where the water goes while it is underground is unknown. The sinks narrow to small, unexplorable log and rock jammed fissures.
The Sinks and Rise occur in the thick, easily eroded off-white Madison Limestone formation. The amount of water flowing into the Sinks varies with the season. The average amount of water in the river is 150 cubic feet per second. During high water during spring run-off over 500 cubic feet of water per second roar down the rocky Popo Agie River channel.
For many years it was unproven that the water flowing into the Sinks was the same water flowing out at the Rise. Dye tests have proven it is the same water but have revealed other mysteries: it takes the water flowing into the Sinks over two hours to reappear at the Rise. Geologists speculate that while underground the water circulates up and down and through many narrow, winding passages and pools until it resurfaces. It was also discovered that more water flows out at the Rise than goes in at the Sinks. The additional water may be coming from underground springs or other sinks formations in the area.
It is unknown exactly how old the Sinks are although they are likely an Ice Age feature thousands of years old. The massive glaciers that carved the canyon exposed the soft limestone and the millions of gallons of water from the melting ice helped erode the underground passages. Native Americans knew of the Sinks for generations. The first white men to see them were fur trappers in the early 1800s.
Remember you are a visitor to the home of the Bighorn Sheep, the Marmots, the Golden Eagles. Please respect the wildlife and only observe them from a distance. Please don't pick the wildflowers. Leave them for others to enjoy.
What Popo Agie means. The name Popo Agie (pronounced Po-Po-zsha) comes from the Crow Indians and means Tall Grass River. "Agie" means river in the Crow language and "PoPo" means tall grass or tall rye grass. The Crow named the river this because of the tall bunches of rye grass that grew along the banks of the river in the valley.
Rainbow Trout flourish in the Rise. The huge trout in the Rise are not stocked. They have arrived there naturally and stay because it is a protected area with an extensive food supply. The fish are mainly Rainbow Trout, though some are Browns. There is no fishing in the Rise, but visitors enjoy throwing fish food to the trout from the observation platform above the Rise.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Sinks Canyon State Park...... It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!! We went to Lander on Friday the 10th. Hubba had a dental appointment, so we tagged a long. Our first stop after dropping Hubba off was the feed store (I'm addicted now). I asked the lady what there was to do in Lander & she told us about the sinks. I am so glad she did. I think I need to write her a thank you note! It was the best way to keep 5 kids occupied!!! My camera batteries died, otherwise I'd have gotten more pictures. I really wanted to get some of the Rise where the trout were, but alas, my batteries apparently had other plans. Plans that I didn't like.....