The Sublette Cutoff is a route established to “cut off” the southwestward route to Fort Bridger, which then turned northwest toward Fort Hall. This cutoff went almost due west and shaved off about 85 miles from the other two legs of the triangle. It was established in 1844 as the Stevens party was guided across it by mountain man Caleb Greenwood. Greenwood guided additional wagons across it in 1845 and the route became known as the Greenwood cutoff. However, in 1849 Joseph E. Ware published The Emigrants’ Guide to California after consulting with explorers John C. Fremont and Solomon P. Sublette. Sublette had been in one of the 1845 wagon trains guided by Greenwood. However, Ware’s guide listed this cutoff trail as Sublette’s and the name stuck thereafter. While this cutoff did provide a shorter route toward Fort Hall, it did include a forty-five-mile desert between Big Sandy River and Green River which had very little water and grass available. This problem was solved in 1850 with the establishment of the Kinney cutoff which took off further down the trail toward Fort Bridger and then angled over to the Sublette route past the desert. The Kinney cutoff is not illustrated on the Trail Center’s plaza.
Watch a five minute BLM video about this high desert area in Wyoming.