The Conservation Fund worked closely with the landowners of the property, known as Rim Rock Ranch, to protect the battlefield, and in doing so identified a larger opportunity to create extraordinary additional benefits for the citizens of Casper and the local economy. Utilizing our legal, real estate and conservation expertise, we preserved the battlefield site and purchased two adjacent properties, including more than 1.5 miles of the North Platte River. The three property purchases, one of them previously owned by the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, were completed in May 2017. The resulting 646-acre protected area preserves the battlefield site, conserves open space and wildlife habitat, greatly expands community recreational benefits, supports the area’s robust outdoor recreational economy and boosts Casper’s tourist economy in conjunction with the highly regarded National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.

Photo credit: Ben Herndon

Funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund — a federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties, not taxpayer dollars — enabled the permanent protection of the entire site and allowed the Fund to transfer the land to the Bureau of Land Management in 2018. Now part of the North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area, the newly conserved site provides an extraordinary opportunity for increased public recreational access in a quiet outdoor setting immediately adjacent to town.

“Wyoming's wide open spaces provide many benefits such as access to wonderful places like this property along the North Platte River. The history of this location is significant and provides unique links to Wyoming's past and opportunities for education and understanding for future generations."

—Wyoming Governor Matt Mead


The Rim Rock Historic and Recreation Area (HRA) will serve as a centerpiece for outdoor education about Wyoming’s role in the history of the nation’s western expansion and the related Indian wars of the Northern Great Plains. In addition, the Rim Rock HRA will be used by the community as a recreation space for a variety of activities that may include biking, hiking, trail running, handicapped boat access, fishing and wildlife viewing, with the potential for future trails connecting directly to Casper.

Rim Rock holds tremendous historical significance as the site of the Battle of Red Buttes which, along with the nearby Battle at Platte Bridge Station, occurred on July 26, 1865, and was a direct consequence of the infamous Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado six months earlier. The city of Casper was named after Lieutenant Caspar Collins, who was killed in the Platte Bridge battle while leading cavalry to help protect supply wagons later attacked at Red Buttes. The protection of the Rim Rock property will enable the creation of a historical interpretive and educational experience for visitors and residents to learn more about these battles and the Indian Wars of the 1850s to 1870s.

"Battle of Red Buttes" by William Henry Jackson. Photo Courtesy of Fort Caspar Museum

The 1.5 miles of the North Platte River on the property sit within the North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area. The area is an angler’s paradise, boasting Blue Ribbon trout fishing with the most trout by weight per mile of any stream in Wyoming. In fact, the area was named the number one spot in the lower 48 states to catch trophy rainbow and brown trout by American Angler. Protection of this site provides an extraordinary opportunity for both Casper residents and its visitors to take advantage of the bounty and beauty of the river. The land surrounding the river is also important ecologically. Just one percent of the land in Wyoming is riparian or wetland habitat, so protecting land along rivers is crucial in ensuring this habitat does not disappear in the state.

Rim Rock is a special place, and now safeguarded, will continue to help bolster Casper’s strong recreation and tourism economy. In 2017, Natrona County, where Casper is located, welcomed 885,000 overnight visitors and generated a total of $293 million in travel-related spending.

As this project came together with its incredible history, extraordinary community benefits, and geographic location along a beautiful oxbow of the North Platte River next to town, it struck me that Rim Rock is four times the size of Denver, Colorado’s signature park—Washington Park—and that someday Rim Rock may become Casper’s own signature hub of the recreational economy created by Casper’s citizens for multiple future generations to enjoy.”

—Dan Schlager, Wyoming State Director, The Conservation Fund