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 in Walla 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 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.
This unique Wyoming hiking trail can be reached from the Tensleep Trailhead and is a whopping 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.
You'll travel past the crisp blue waters of Lake Helen.
You'll definitely want to cool off here.
And enjoy the gorgeous sights and rewards of this slice of Wyoming backcountry.
And view after view in the distance.
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.
Watch the video below to see what the wreckage field looks like. There are still huge chunks of this massive plane intact, and you can see most of the controls as they looked more than 70 years ago.
While the Bomber Mountain hike is a long, multi-day, high-elevation trek, it’s not strenuous if you’re used to backpacking in the wilderness. And with such a unique end destination, it’s definitely one of the best hikes in Wyoming!
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Bomber Mountain in Wyoming & Related Info
What are the best history museums in Wyoming?
From cowboy culture and American history to peeks into the prehistoric past, Wyoming's numerous museums pay homage to eons past in creative and awe-inspiring ways. Here are just a few of the best and most popular
history museums in Wyoming:
Brinton Museum, Big Horn
Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, Cheyenne
Grand Encampment Museum, Encampment
Laramie Plains Museum, Laramie
Little Snake River Museum, Savery
Museum at the Bighorns, Sheridan
Museum of the Mountain Man, Pinedale National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Casper
National Museum of Military Vehicles, Dubois National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson
Nici-Self Historical Museum, Centennial
Nicolaysen Museum and Discovery Center, Casper
Rock Springs Historical Museum, Rock Springs
Saratoga Museum, Saratoga
Sheridan County Museum, Sheridan
Sweetwater County Historical Museum, Green River
Tate Geological Museum, Casper Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis
Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum, Douglas
Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne
For even more peeks into Wyoming's history, check out one of our
favorite small towns in Wyoming, which is packed with local history. Or, take a vacation in Cody to experience a number of fantastic history museums all in one spot.