Nature July 26, 2018
The Unique Hike In Wyoming That Leads You To Plane Wreckage From 1943
Wyoming’s wilderness areas are home to all sorts of hidden treasures. From natural wonders to historic markers, stunning trailhead and breathtaking overlooks, it’s hard to
not enjoy your time away from the world. If you’re looking for a truly unique adventure, take a weekend off and hike up Bomber Mountain in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. The stunning plane wreckage near the summit is both tragic and beautiful.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
High in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, an imposing mountain stands high above the alpine lakes, and on a sunny day, you can see something glisten on its face.
The shiny, silver reflections you might catch make sense when you learn the mountain's name — Bomber Mountain — and the story behind this cursed peak.
On June 28, 1943, a B-17F Flying Fortress was loaded with 10 crew members inWalla Walla, Washington, en route to Grand Island, Nebraska.
This was no ordinary flight. The crew was resupplying in Grand Island, and then they would be off on a transatlantic journey to fight in Nazi Germany.
The pilot last relayed his location from Wyoming's Powder River around Midnight.
Though ATC had not realized it, this was the first clue that the plane was in trouble. If all had been going according to plan, the plane would have landed safely in Grand Island Nebraska by the time it called in a location near Powder River. It's thought that the flight's instruments may have been malfunctioning, unbeknownst to anyone on board or on the ground.
When the plane went missing, the Army had no clue where to begin their search.
Central Wyoming was searched, border to border, for a week straight. There was no trace of the plane, nor any clues of where it may be, and the families of the crew were notified that their loved ones were missing.
The following year, another search through the mountains was conducted by the Army. The Absaroka Range, Big Horns, and Wind River Mountains were thoroughly searched, but no wreckage was found.
The flight wreckage was finally found in August of 1945. Two cowboys noticed a shiny glare coming from an unnamed mountainside in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, so they climbed up to investigate.
They found the entire wreckage, including the deceased crew. Finally, the Army was able to notify their next of kin that the crew had been found. Though it seemed as if most of the 10 person crew had perished instantly, one body was found propped up against a rock, holding a wallet and family photos, with an opened bible by his side.
Today, the hike up Bomber Mountain (as it was later named) is a challenging but unforgettable trek in the Cloud Peak Wilderness.
The trail can be reached from the Tensleep Trailhead, and is a 22-mile journey. You'll want to take a weekend off for this one. You'll find a memorial to the crew at the base of the mountain, but climbing to the top will show you the mangled, historic wreckage.
Watch the video below to see what the wreckage field looks like. There's still huge chunks of this massive plane intact, and you can see most of the controls as they looked more than 70 years ago. VIDEO
This peaceful mountaintop is just one piece of Wyoming that will go down in the history books forever.
Though its story is tragic, there is something beautiful about the entire mountain laying unchanged, serving as a memorial to the lives lost on a noble mission.
You can get more information on the trail
here and here. While the trek is a long, multi-day, high elevation hike, it’s not strenuous if you’re used to backpacking in the wilderness.
For more about Wyoming’s isolated wilderness areas, read
15 Off-The-Grid Destinations In Wyoming That Will Take You Away From It All.