Chain Lakes

Recreational Uses:

Wyoming is famous for its pronghorn antelope.  Approximately 32 miles northwest of Rawlins in the Red Desert, Chain Lakes Wildlife Habitat Management Area provides winter habitat for antelope, and protects migration routes for pronghorn traveling between summer and winter ranges.

This part of the Red Desert averages six and one-half inches of precipitation each year, and its topography is a flat-to-gently rolling steppe.  The elevation ranges from 6,500 feet at the lakes to 6,750 feet on Chain Lakes rim -- the dominant topographical feature of this area.  Sagebrush grassland communities dominate most of the area, while greasewood grows along the basins around the "Chain of Lakes.”  The area is treeless and the lakes are natural drainage depressions without outlets.  Some artesian flows drain into the surrounding wetlands.

Hunters may enjoy stalking pronghorns, elk, rabbits, coyotes, and sage grouse at Chain Lakes WHMA.  If you enjoy photography, there are more than 100 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles in this area to capture on film.  The "Chain of Lakes" is an important resting area for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.  April is an excellent time to observe many unique migrating shorebirds.  One may see plovers, sandpipers, willets, American avocets, phalaropes, herons, curlews, and yellowlegs, among others, which nest in the arctic, passing through the area.

A large population of feral (wild) horses lives in the Red Desert.  These horses are a common sight at Chain Lakes.  An artesian well and several solar-powered water wells provide dependable and quality water sources for the pronghorn, horses, as well as other wildlife.  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management conducts periodic feral horse roundups to control numbers and prevent habitat damage from overgrazing.  The BLM offers these horses for adoption to anyone interested in owning one.

This management area is ideal for wildlife watching without much human interference.  However, a note of caution -- watch the weather.  A rainstorm or snowstorm can hinder vehicle travel due to muddy or snow-drifted roads.

A 14-day camping limit is in effect in designated camping areas within the WHMA.

Chain Lakes is open all year.

Last Modified: 8/3/2017 12:00:00 AM

Email Newsletter

Email Newsletter Sign Up

Stay up to date on all Wyoming Game and Fish news either by email or text message. Click the link below to get started.

Sign Up Today


Conserving Wildlife - Serving People