Location and mailing addresses
Our field camp is located about 10 miles southwest of Lander, Wyoming. A paved road goes up from Sinks Canyon State Park into the Shoshone National Forest boundary, where the road crosses a cattle guard. The gate to the camp is about ¾ miles beyond the cattle guard on the left.
Physical address and UPS and FedEx mailing address:
Branson Field Laboratory
3322 Sinks Canyon Rd
Lander, WY 82520
US Postal Service mailing address:
Branson Field Laboratory
P.O. Box 590
Lander, WY 82520
Required field and project equipment
The following equipment is necessary (unless noted as optional). Many of these items are not available in Lander, so be sure to bring them with you.
- Rock hammer.
- Hand lens (10X). Recommended (if you don't yet have a suitable lens): B & L Hastings triple (10X), but less expensive models are sufficient.
- Grain-size card (something like this, http://sciopticgeo.com/geo-mudlogging/scioptic-grain-size-chart.html)
- Day pack for the field
- Water bottles (total capacity of at least 2 quarts, it’s really dry out there)
- Pocket knife, for skinning bears.
- An extra belt (optional) to carry a Brunton compass (we provide), hammer etc.
- Drawing ink pens (at least size 0 [=0.35mm] and 1 [=0.50mm]). Bring pens with ink that will not run or smear if it gets wet.
- Miscellaneous drafting materials (triangles, small 360o protractor, ruler marked in 0.1 inch increments, etc.)
- Mechanical pencils (lots and lots, you’ll lose at least one per day)
- Color pencils
- Graph paper graduated in 0.1 inch increments.
- Tracing paper, not graduated.
- A USB pen drive with at least a 512MB capacity
- Retractable steel tape at least 10 ft. long.
- Safety glasses or goggles (mandatory for eye safety when splitting rocks, etc.)
- Map board - two 12”x15” (30.5 cm x 38 cm) pieces of sturdy masonite, dense particle board or plexiglas hinged along their long dimension (you can use tape in lieu of a hinge)
- Roll of masking tape
- Roll of duct tape, you’ll use it for something
- Glue stick
- Something to take photos with
- Calculator with trig functions
- A wrist watch (a watch that is not part of a digital device such as a smartphone, iPod and the like) will be needed for some field projects.
- Plastic sandwich boxes to keep lunch sandwiches from getting crushed in your pack (optional).
Suggested clothing and personal gear
- Good pair of hiking boots or shoes. Make sure they have good soles. Break them in before you get there
- Several pairs of work pants and shirts.
- 6-8 pairs of work socks. A thin pair worn under a heavy pair works best.
- Hat, sun screen & lip protection - the sun is fierce in the thin air of Wyoming, and a hat can help ward off severe sunburn and heat stroke. Know your tolerance for sun exposure and use appropriate sunscreen. You may want to bring a bandanna to protect your neck from the sun. Sunglasses are optional but recommended.
- Light-weight rain gear that can be carried in a small field pack (optional rain pants).
- Sweater or sweatshirt.
- Jacket or light coat.
- Flashlight/headlamp: it’s dark in camp at night.
- Toilet articles, soap, towels, show shoes, etc.
- Bedding. You will be sleeping on mattresses on bunks. You can either bring sheets, several heavy blankets, and a pillow, or you may prefer to just bring a good, cold-weather sleeping bag
- Sleeping bag. We will camp out on our trip to Yellowstone in mid-June, and will likely encounter evening temperatures on the order of 30-40o, so you will need a warm sleeping bag for the trip.
- Sleeping pad (for our National Parks trip)
- Tent: it is highly advisable that students bring their own tents, if they have them, for our four-day field trip to the National Parks. Although we do have a supply of two-person tents that may be checked out, they will likely not be sufficient if we have a large number of students enrolled in the course. Also some students might choose to bring their personal tents for weekend hikes.
- A small first aid kit that will fit in your day pack.
Cell service and satellite internet
Depending on your carrier cell service may be good in some of our field areas and in Lander. Cell service in camp is almost non-existent, as we are in a canyon
Our internet service relies on a satellite provider with monthly download limits and relatively slow speeds, all we can get because of our remote location. We make several laptops available for basic browsing and email access in camp.
Travel to and from Camp Branson
Students Traveling in Vans from Columbia
You can ride to camp from Columbia Missouri and back in one of our vans. You will leave from Columbia on the morning of May 25th (8:00 a.m.), and you will depart camp to return to Columbia on the morning of July 8th. The fee for this transportation is $100 and includes two night's lodging on the way to camp and one night's lodging returning from camp and it does not include food (vans will stop for food). We will provide one-way transportation for $50. The vans will arrive in Columbia late in the afternoon on July 9th.
If you are driving to Columbia and then riding in the vans to camp and back, you may park your vehicle in one of the campus garages for ~$8/week. Make these arrangements before your arrival in Columbia by contacting Campus Parking and Transportation at (573) 882-4568.
Students Providing Their Own Transportation
You can drive or ride with a friend. You should plan to arrive at the camp between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Sunday, May 27th. If you arrive in the area a day or two ahead of time, there are campgrounds in Sinks Canyon both upstream and downstream from the camp. We don't start checking people in until 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 27th.
Parking in Camp: we have room for 10 student vehicles in our camp. Parking permits will be issued on a specific date in the spring semester (to be communicated to all those who will be driving themselves). Those who do not get parking permits have other parking options in areas along the Sinks Canyon Rd, within 5-10 min walking distance from our camp.
Students Flying to Camp
You can fly into Riverton, Wyoming on the morning or afternoon of May 27th and depart from Riverton on the morning of July 8th, no earlier than 9 am. The Riverton Airport is the closest commercial airport to Lander (about a 50 minute drive to camp). We can provide your transportation between the airport and camp for both your arrival and departure if you make arrangements with us in advance. We recommend that you make your travel plans as soon as possible to avoid complications. You should consider purchasing tickets that are refundable or changeable in case unforeseen events force changes in your plans. Keep in mind that airlines often overbook their flights to Riverton. To be sure you aren't bumped, allow plenty of time between your connections in Denver.
We serve 20 meals a week at the camp. To give the cook and kitchen crew a break, the dining room and kitchen are closed on Saturday night (except for the last night of camp). Vans will take students into Lander for the evening where everything from fast food to gourmet dining is available. Students are not allowed to use the kitchen to prepare your own meals. Breakfast is at 6:30 (7:30 on Sunday) and dinner is at 6:00. We can make limited accommodations for those on a vegetarian diet. Contact Dr. Miriam Barquero-Molina if you have questions about these accommodations. During the four-day trip through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks we supply lunches and give you a partial rebate on meal expenses for you to purchase breakfasts and suppers. Depending on your appetite, you may need extra money to supplement these meals
Lander is a medical center for western Wyoming, and has an excellent hospital and medical staff. Health care during the summer is at the student's expense. For your own protection you should determine whether you are covered by a family health insurance policy and what provisions it will make in case of accident or illness.
Any severe medical emergencies while in the field may require air medical evacuation. Insurance companies have very stringent requirements regarding the conditions necessary to qualify for air ambulance cost reimbursement. The first place to look to see if your trip qualifies is your policy with a comprehensive health care insurer, such as Blue Cross & Blue Shield, AIG, Aetna, etc. In most cases, an urgent medical need, documented by a physician, is required for reimbursement. We advise that you become familiar with your health insurance carrier's coverage for air ambulances, or look into purchasing a separate air ambulance insurance policy (they cost about $65/household/year).
Limited laundry facilities are available in camp free of charge, and we also provide a special laundry detergent for your use.
You can expect almost any kind of weather in this arid, mountainous area. Usually the weather is chilly for the first couple weeks, and rain or snow are probable. Early morning temperatures are commonly brisk for the first couple weeks of camp, on the order of 30-40F. The camp is at 7000 feet and therefore cooler than the foothills where we do much of our fieldwork. By the end of camp, temperatures in the field will be in the mid to upper 80's and occasionally above 90's by mid-day. Your wardrobe should be varied to meet these conditions. Layers of clothing that can be removed as the day warms will be more effective than a single heavy coat.
Your days in the field will involve considerable hiking (commonly 3-7 miles/day) at elevations between 4500 and 9000 ft. Most of the hiking is not in difficult terrain, but most of you will be coming from much lower elevations where breathing is easier. You may want to consider getting physically ready prior to camp if you think you might have endurance problems.