Chain Lakes

Recreational Uses:

Wyoming is famous for its pronghorn antelope. Approximately 32 miles northwest of Rawlins in the Red Desert, Chain Lakes 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 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.

If you like to hunt, pronghorns, rabbits and sage grouse are what your will find. 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. Plovers, sandpipers and yellowlegs, which nest in the arctic, might be seen just passing through the area.

A large population of feral (wild) horses lives on the Red Desert. These horses are a common sight at Chain Lakes. Two artesian wells provide a dependable and quality water source for pronghorn and horses as well as other wildlife. Periodic feral horse roundups are conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to control numbers and prevent habitat damage from overgrazing. The horses are offered for adoption to anyone interested in owning one.

This management area is ideal for wildlife watching without much people pressure. A note of caution: watch the weather. A rainstorm or snowstorm can hinder vehicle travel because of muddy or snow-drifted roads.

Camping is permitted in designated camping areas with a 14-day camping limit.

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