The Teton Range and a Fort – Jackson, Wyoming

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I like to pose at signs ūüôā

It’s been eleven years since our last visit to Grand Teton National Park, and we looked forward to driving through again while we were relatively nearby.¬† Although the crowds and traffic tend to keep us away from the national parks we’ve already visited (we skipped Yellowstone this time), our early arrival kept the crowds away until the early afternoon when we were leaving.

Our last visit was in the springtime when the range was covered in snow, and we really enjoyed the new perspective this summer journey gave us.

Bison

Bison, one of the beloved locals of the area

We thought of adding a hike to our tour, but the 60-mile drive from our campground at Thayne put us past our usual start time.  Instead, we drove the scenic route counter-clockwise to experience the legendary beauty in a half-day visit.  The spectacular Teton Range with snow-capped spires thrust toward the sky is a beauty to behold from every angle!

In 2004, Steve and his pilot buddies flew over the jagged peaks of the Teton Range in a small plane

At the top of Lunch Tree Hill was a plaque commemorating¬†John D. Rockefeller Jr., who created a controversy when he purchased “the entire Jackson Hole Valley” under a different business name in 1933. ¬†His intent was to donate the land to the National Park Service to bolster the acreage of Grand Teton National Park.¬† While Rockefeller‚Äôs connection to the project was revealed during a hearing, the Grand Teton National Park vision was eventually realized in 1950 with the expansion of the park to include Jackson Hole.¬† The term “Hole” was used early on by fur trappers to describe high altitude plateaus surrounded by mountains.

Willow Flats

Searching for moose at Willow Flats overlook

Moose

As if on cue, mama and baby moose casually strolled out from some bushes for a photo op

Pausing at each overlook along the scenic route, the striking magnificent views and wildlife did not disappoint:

Herds of bison grazed with a spectacular backdrop

It wasn’t just bison causing traffic delays, the cowboys and ranchers have to get around too!

Pronghorn were active that day

We drove out to Colter Bay, where Grand Teton seemed to float on Jackson Lake:

Grand Teton on a clear, cloudless day at Colter Bay

Teton Glacier is the largest of the twelve named glaciers in the park

Mount Moran

Zooming in on Mount Moran, a distinctive dark basalt intrusion known as the Black Dike runs to the summit on the south side of the mountain

A great view of the range from the lobby of Jackson Lodge

By 1pm we couldn’t find a parking spot at Jenny Lake.¬† I jumped out of the car and snapped a picture of the Cathedral Group Towers above the lake:

Jenny Lake nestled at the mouth of glacially carved Cascade Canyon

I was too far away to get a good shot of a nesting Great Heron

During our first visit in 2007, Grand Teton was shrouded in clouds.¬† This time the weather was perfect to see the whole range on grandiose display.¬† Except for the very popular Jenny Lake at the end of our drive, the summer crowds weren’t too bad.

Teton Range

My Peak Finder app named the peaks correctly.  Mt. Moran is the one on the far right, looking taller since it was relatively close to us

On our way home we passed through the crowded and very touristy western town of Jackson.  I captured one of the four dense elkhorn antler arches guarding the corners of Town Square.  I preferred these over the larger one in Afton, Wyoming.

One of the four elkhorn arches in Jackson

At first, I was scared to think how many elk had been killed to gather the thousands of antlers!  But then I learned they simply fall off naturally from animals who grow new sets every year.  Each of these arches is a mosaic of 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of antlers and replaced every 30 to 40 years.

Heading south on Bridger Valley Historic Byway – formerly the California/Oregon Trail

Fort Bridger State Historic Site

We left Thayne the following day and drove 152 miles south to Fort Bridger, our last stop in Wyoming.  Right next door to our campground was the Fort Bridger Historic Site where we learned that Jim Bridger and his partner, Louis Vasquez, established Fort Bridger to service emigrant traffic in 1842.

Human imitating art!

One of the plaques advised that Jim Bridger, the discoverer of Great Salt Lake, was a notable pioneer, trapper, fur trader, scout and guide.¬† He’s been called America’s greatest frontiersman, so it’s no wonder a national forest has been named after him.

Taking a break at a replica of Jim Bridger’s fur trading outpost

The historic site maintains and interprets historic structures and remnants from its 5 eras of occupation, including Jim Bridgers trading outpost, mormons, military, milkbarn/motel, and now a museum.

One of the original stone barracks has been turned into a museum, with artifacts from different time periods in the fort’s history

Officers Row – The Army established a military post here in 1858, operational until its closure in 1890

Unusual officer’s lounging chairs

Black and Orange Garage Camp cabins

The Lincoln Highway drive-in garage cabins were built in 1929 and restored in 2009.  For $1 folks got a room with a garage, but the bathrooms were in a separate structure

Little did we know that the area where we camped Рnow known as Bridger Valley Рserved as a crossroads for the Oregon/California Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Pony Express Route, the Transcontinental Railroad and the Lincoln Highway.  We enjoyed the quiet campground, relaxing and learning some history at the same time.

Both of our stops in Wyoming, Thayne and Fort Bridger, led us off the beaten path to see a natural phenomenon and an historic site which used to be a major stopping point on the old west trails.

 

Next up:  Back to Utah for a week



 

A spring that breathes? – Afton, WY

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With scenic Idaho and its famous potatoes in our rearview mirror, we crossed into the northern part of Wyoming’s Star Valley for a 4-night stay in the little town of Thayne.¬† Our plan was to visit Grand Teton National Park (60 miles to the north) on a weekday during our stay, to avoid the busy weekends there.

While checking in, the RV park owner suggested we visit Intermittent Spring Рalso known as Periodic Spring Рlocated near the town of Afton, some twenty miles south of Thayne.  It piqued our interest, as it happens to be one of only three springs of its kind in existence.

On our drive to the spring, we discovered that Afton’s other claim to fame is the “elkhorn arch” located there, evidently the largest in the the world!

We drove under the arch that spans the main street (Hwy 89) through town.¬† It’s 75′ wide, 18′ high and adorned by over 3,000 antlers.¬† Elkhorn arches are somewhat common in Wyoming, but this baby makes the more famous one in Jackson look tiny by comparison.

Intermittent Spring is about five miles east of town, at the end of a dirt road.  The scenic drive on the way there featured beautiful rocky ledges protruding from hillsides along the road:

From the parking lot we walked about 3/4 mile to access the spring, and our early arrival was rewarded with a peaceful trek devoid of other humanoids; we had the whole place to ourselves – just the way we like it ūüôā

Fireweed lined the creek

The water from the spring flows 1/4 mile down the narrow-walled canyon to Swift Creek:

View from Swift Creek looking up toward the source

Imagine this water periodically stopping for 12-18 minutes

If not for the beautiful setting and soothing gurgling noise of the water we would have been disappointed, for it only flows intermittently beginning in late August and continuing through the winter.¬† During those months, the rare geological feature starts and stops the water’s flow every few minutes at regular intervals, a phenomenon thought to be caused by underground siphoning:

How the spring “breathes”

Unfortunately we could only imagine what it would be like to see the water flow stop, but this beautiful and relaxing place was totally worth the trip.

Intermittent Spring

The cement cap where Steve is sitting was placed over the mouth of the spring to prevent rocks and debris from falling into the water

This fascinating oddity is only known to occur in a couple of other places in the world, with Periodic Spring being the largest by far – a fact that Afton is very proud of.

Looking 1/4 mile down from the source of the spring

After taking pictures and enjoying the peaceful spring, we started back down and spotted the trailhead for Swift Creek Trail winding up the side of Swift Creek Canyon.  We hiked up 2.5 miles, enjoying another perspective of the spring from our high vantage point along the way.  We also crossed a hillside with a variety of wildflowers still in bloom Рa bonus treat!

Intermittent Springs

Looking down at Intermittent Spring from Swift Creek Trail

A happy hiker!

This rock ledge reminded me of Angels Landing at Zion NP

The trail was a moderately difficult out and back affair, and we were happy that we crossed paths with only about a half-dozen folks along the way.

On our way back we noticed a lot of people heading toward the spring far below

Completing our hike, we were shocked to see a packed parking lot as dozens of people had arrived to visit this popular place.

Sherry, I use the “Pacer” app on my iPhone to track and record our hikes.¬† Steve prefers “Walkmeter

Betsy was snuggled in near a big tree at Flat Creek RV Park.¬† Definitely not a “resort”, but we really liked our site at this small park.

A Wyoming sunset over Salt River Mountain Range

 

Next up:  Revisiting Grand Teton



 

 

 

Gateway to the wild and scenic – Cody, Wyoming

Comments 25 Standard
American Bison

Cody is in the heart of the “American West”, a¬†gateway to¬†spectacular driving loops¬†that allowed¬†us to see the best of Wyoming. ¬†We drove¬†them until Steve threw up his arms and said¬†” enough driving already!” ¬†Armed with a¬†color-coded map, we set up our driving strategy and took off!

Big Horn Mountains Loop/Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway (blue line)

Coming here to our home base in¬†Cody from the south, Betsy followed the western section of the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway, a 34-mile route along U.S. Hwy¬†20 between Shoshoni and Thermopolis. ¬†Then we continued northwest on Hwy¬†120 through miles of broken range and badlands. ¬† It was a beautiful trek¬†through some of Wyoming’s most amazing¬†geology.

Boysen Reservoir

Deep blue waters of Boysen Reservoir, with the jagged ridges of Wind River Range in the background

Pronghorn

This Pronghorn hesitated next to the road, then decided to go for it.  Hit the brakes!

Owl Creek Mountains

Yellow and red rock of the Owl Creek Mountains

Wind River Canyon

Spectacular rock walls rise 2,500 vertical feet on either side of Wind River Canyon

South Fork Road (purple line)

WYO 291 is also known as South Fork Road, and it begins off of Yellowstone Highway on the western end of Cody.  It parallels the South Fork of the Shoshone River upstream through a scenic valley.  Along the way are prominent volcanic rock formations like Castle Rock, and a succession of picturesque ranches.  The road eventually dead-ends on the fringes of the Absaroka Range.

South Fork Road

Castle Rock serves as a visual divider between the lower South Fork Valley and the more remote upper South Fork Valley.  Around it are historic ranches and many exclusive private recreation properties.

Castle Rock

Another of those Wyoming roadside signs we love

Southfork Road

One of the many ranches that continue to practice old traditions

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Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway (green line)

This stretch of U.S. Hwy¬†14-16-20 – also known as the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway – follows the north fork of the Shoshone River all the way to the east gate of Yellowstone National Park. ¬†For this scenic drive our destination was the eastern side of Yellowstone NP. Along the way in¬†Wapiti Valley, we craned our necks at¬†the high rugged rock formations. The valley is known for its wildlife, and although there were notices posted about grizzly bears we didn’t see any that day.

Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway

Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway

Wapiti Valley

Wapiti Valley

The byway entered Yellowstone NP at the head of the valley. ¬†It’s been ten years since our last visit here, so we thought it would be fun¬†to revisit the oldest national park in the world.

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Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

As to be expected, wildlife here is abundant and fortunately most critters shy away from people.

Visitors to Yellowstone NP¬†can usually count on a traffic jam caused by the iconic Bison that live here. ¬†They aren’t shy!

American Bison

Not a care in the world as he struts along the road, heading right at us

Unlike our first visit here, it was crowded with heavy traffic by 10AM this time.  We turned around after a stop at Hayden Valley in the park, which gave us a 190-mile roundtrip for the day.

Yellowstone National Park

This drive with breathtaking views as it snaked through Wapiti Valley and over Sylvan Pass into Yellowstone NP made the traffic in the park worth tolerating.

Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (green line)

Chief Joseph Scenic Byway forks off of WYO 120 about 20 miles north of Cody.  It follows the route taken by Chief Joseph as he led the Nez Perce Indians out of Yellowstone National Park and into Montana in 1877 during their attempt to flee the U.S. Cavalry and escape into Canada.

The scenic highway climbs though fields of wildflowers and past Chugwater formations on its way into Shoshone National Forest.

Red chug water formations

Red Chugwater formations

Antelope Butte

Antelope Butte

We pulled over at Dead Indian Pass (elevation 8,060′) to enjoy¬†a dramatic panorama¬†west into Sunlight Basin and north into Clarks Fork Canyon (unfortunately, due to a developing thunderstorm I caught only a glimpse of the 1,200′ gorge carved at¬†Clarks Fork on the Yellowstone River).

Dead Indian Summit

Looking down at the switchbacks from Dead Indian Summit to Sunlight Basin

Cathedral Cliffs

Limestone Cathedral Cliffs

Pilot Mountain

Pilot and Index Peaks

Chief Josep Scenic Byway

Heavy rain and hail on our way home on Hwy 296

The scenic highway ends at the bottom of the Beartooth Highway (U.S. 212), and we drove west up to Cooke City and east to the Wyoming-Montana border. ¬†I’ll do another post on that section,¬†as we drove it from our next¬†home base in Montana.

Bighorn Mountain Loop northeast end (orange line)

Taking¬†U.S. 14A northeast toward Bighorn Canyon, we passed through irrigated farmland – a¬†product of Buffalo Bill’s irrigation project – to the town of Powell. ¬†It’s the agricultural hub of northwestern Wyoming.

Our only stop here was at Devils Canyon Overlook:

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This¬†overlook provides amazing¬†views of the confluence of the Bighorn and Devils Canyons. ¬†The narrow, winding, colorful canyon cliffs tower 1,000′ above lake level.

Devils Canyon Overlook

Devils Canyon on the left and Bighorn Canyon on the right

Bighorn Canyon

Sixty-five millions years of erosion has carved 50 mile-long Bighorn Canyon

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Deep red-colored cliffs

Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range

Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. ¬†Steve called it the “horseless range” because we didn’t see a single one on this trip

On our way back home we stopped at the National Historic Site of the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese-American Relocation Center.  This was one of 10 relocation camps set up around the country to detain Japanese-Americans in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

We had visited the Manzanar Relocation Center at Lone Pine, California in 2012, and found the exhibits to be interesting and sad at the same time.  This site near Cody memorializes the experience of more than 14,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were brought into and out of the camp between 1942-1945.

Heart Mountain Memorial

Steve points at the image of hundreds of barracks buildings that made up the camp

Heart Mountain World war II

14,000+ tags symbolize the number of Japanese-Americans that were interned here

Bighorn Mountain Loop southeast end (orange line)

In a¬†previous drive we were disappointed that¬†we didn’t see¬†wild horses at Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop in Rock Springs, Wyoming. ¬†Here, I opted to join a private Wild Horse Tour, and for $33 I got a¬†2.5-hour¬†viewing of the¬†wild horses¬†at McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Herd Management Area. ¬†The viewing area is 22 miles east of¬†Cody on Hwy¬†14-16-20 at¬†mile marker 72.

Wild Mustang

According to the guide, the objective of the Horse Management Area is to maintain a population of 100 wild horses.  When over-population occurs, horses are removed and offered to the general public for adoption.

Wild Mustang

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A wild horse as defined by federal law is unbranded, unclaimed and free-roaming on public lands.  Wild horses and burros are descendants of animals that were released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, ranchers, miners, the U.S. Cavalry and American Indians.

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Stallions in fight

Stallions fighting to decide who leads the bachelor band – this was a rare capture!

Northwestern Wyoming is wild and scenic, and Cody is in the center of it all.  Every road we took rewarded us with rugged canyons, spectacular mountains, lush ranch valleys and vibrant wildflowers adorning hillsides.

We’ll definitely be coming back to Wyoming¬†– wild horses couldn’t keep us away!

 

Next up:  Beartooth Highway РA National Scenic Byway All-American Road



 

A place called Cody, Wyoming

Comments 13 Standard
Cody Rodeo

While¬†planning our route through Wyoming we initially intended to revisit the Grand Tetons and Jackson. ¬†But even many months ahead the RV parks were fully booked on the dates we wanted. ¬†Since we’d already visited those places¬†several years ago, we changed our plans¬†and headed instead to¬†Cody. ¬†It¬†was a good move,¬†as it turns out Cody is a¬†gateway for¬†several scenic drives.

But let’s talk wild west¬†first!

Cody, Wyoming

Main Street, Cody

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It seems Cody is the center of all things wild – wildlife, wild west and wild experiences as envisioned by the man who named the town after himself. ¬†William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody¬†was the most well-known man in the world during the early 1900’s, and¬†he made this¬†area famous during his life. ¬†He and his companions were the first to perceive the possibilities of turning the sagebrush flats of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin into a land of agricultural abundance through irrigation.

Cody, Wyoming

Art around town

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We began our visit by taking¬†the narrated Cody Trolley Tour to learn about the town’s colorful and entertaining western history. ¬†Then we immersed ourselves in¬†the¬†Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a complex¬†of five impressive museums under¬†one roof. ¬†The center has an amazing collection of all things western, and¬†we quickly realized why our tickets were good for two days there.

Draper Natural History Museum

A mosaic tile map depicts the greater Yellowstone area at the Draper Natural History Museum

Buffalo Bill Museum

The Buffalo Bill Museum told stories of the life and legend of Buffalo Bill and the west he loved

Cody Firearms Museum

The Cody Firearms Museum has the largest collection of rare firearms in the U.S.  A gun buff could easily spend a full day just in this huge museum!

Cody Firearms Museum

Steve was excited to see the actual gun James Arness used in the Gunsmoke TV series

Plains Indian Museum

The Plains Indian Museum tells the story of Native American culture and heritage

Whitney Western Art Museum

Artwork of the beauty and myths of the west are displayed at the Whitney Western Art Museum

The Old Trail Town

The Old Trail Town is a collection of historic¬†western¬†buildings and¬†artifacts dating from 1879‚Äď1901. ¬†It’s displayed¬†at the place¬†Buffalo Bill and his associates chose¬†as the first town site for¬†Cody City in 1895. ¬†These buildings were meticulously disassembled from the surrounding area¬†and moved here for re-assembly.

Hole in the Wall Gang Cabin

Hole in the Wall Gang cabin built in 1883 Рa famous hideout for Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and other outlaws

Old Town Trail

Cody Historic Mural

We first heard stories about the Mormon pioneers at Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, where we saw the ruts their wagons made on their way to Utah from the east coast.  We learned of another group that first settled in Bluff, Utah, and their harrowing experience while descending the 2,000’ Hole in the Rock to the Colorado River during their journey.  These were some very tough people!

Cody Mural

Here in Cody, artist Edward T. Grigware painted a circular mural depicting highlights of the Mormon Church’s early history, and the story of a people blazing trails to avoid persecution. What surprised us is that Mr. Grigware was¬†not a member of the Mormon Church. ¬†It took him eleven months to paint his concept after studying the¬†history for a year.

Cody Mural

The journey of the Mormon pioneers is illustrated in a circular mural

The presentation was like a diorama with a voice describing highlighted sections of the mural. ¬†We reacted when a photo of Chimney Rock in Nebraska and¬†the Hole in the Rock were highlighted, as we’re familiar with those places.

Cody Mural Historic Site

Another room described the colonization of Mormon settlers at Bighorn Basin in 1900

It was a mini education about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and although it was very interesting,¬†we didn’t convert!

Cody is Rodeo

You’ve heard the term, “This isn’t my first rodeo?” ¬†Well, this was our first and we had a blast! ¬†A stay in Cody isn’t¬†complete without experiencing a night at the rodeo. ¬†Every night¬†from June through¬†August is Rodeo Night, and we were lucky to be here for the one-night-only Extreme Bull Riding event. It was two hours¬†of fun watching crazy cowboys trying to stay on top of 1,900-pound¬†bulls. ¬† What a way to make a living!

Cody rodeo

Having a chat with a real cowboy

Codeo Rodeo

Cowgirls running their horses in formations

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These bulls were mean!

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Codeo Rodeo

And down he goes!

Cody Rodeo

Cody Nite Rodeo

That one is more my size!

Buffalo Bill Dam

Just six miles west of Cody is Buffalo Bill Dam, which at the time of completion in 1910 was the tallest dam in the world at 325′.¬†¬†It’s an engineering marvel, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States and the one that Hoover Dam was modeled after. ¬†It was built to irrigate thousands of acres in the area, which was one of Buffalo Bill Cody’s visions in the early 1900’s.

Buffalo Bill Dam

The dam’s upstream¬†face shows¬†the additional¬†height added in 1985,¬†and accumulated debris

Buffalo Bill Dam

Downstream face of the dam and the visitor center at the other end

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

From the video shown at the Visitor Center we learned about the horrendous conditions that the various contractors had to face.  Three contractors came and went over the course of construction mostly due to labor disputes, and the final cost was twice the original estimate.  Most of the construction work was done during winter months, as the Shoshone River flooded every spring.  That meant the men were working in sub-zero temperatures during most of the project.

Shoshone Canyon

Looking down Shoshone Canyon and the old highway to Yellowstone

The guide on our trolley tour mentioned that we could walk to the dam through Shoshone Canyon via the old road to Yellowstone.  So after reading the displays and exhibits at the Visitor Center we drove down to the road and then walked back toward the dam.  It was a good 2-mile test for my leg, and we enjoyed seeing the dam from the top and bottom perspectives.

Shoshone Canyon

Up there is one of the three tunnels the current highway cuts through Rattlesnake Mountain

It was a pleasant¬†walk along the floor of the canyon with the sound of the Shoshone River rushing next to us. ¬†Pink granite rocks exposed by¬†the river¬†are said to be 2.7 billions years old, and they’re beautiful.

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Shoshone Canyon

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Only one flower picture this time…

Shoshone River

Shoshone River cutting through Rattlesnake Mountain created the gorge

An additional 25′ was added at the crest of the dam, making¬†its height 350′ and increasing the reservoir storage capacity to¬†260,000 acre-feet.

Buffalo Bill Dam

Looking up from the bottom

Shoshone Canyon

Buffalo Bill Cody would smile at what his little town has become. ¬†It’s a cool western tourist town that is not overrun nor frenetic, and somehow manages to retain¬†a hometown feel.

And with that we’re ready to explore some of the scenic drives that begin in Cody.

 

Next up:  Cody Рthe gateway to wild and scenic drives



 

Hello, Wyoming!

Comments 10 Standard
Northern Flicker

Excitement prevailed as we finally left Utah behind and started our climb into the 47th state of our adventure.  As Steve navigated the long climb followed by a steep downgrade to our new home base at Lander, we immediately recognized what this state is known for Рwide open spaces, cattle, wild horses and cowboys.  It also has the lowest population density of any state in the lower 48.  No state income tax and low sales taxes, plus reasonable prices for homes with property Рhmm, better take a closer look!

Wyoming Welcome Sign

Lander is the county seat for Fremont County, which covers a total area of 9,266 square miles Рroughly the size of Vermont.  Only 12% is privately owned land, with the remainder being government held in the form of BLM, US Forest Service and State Parks.

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And how about this: 48% of the land in Wyoming is held by the U.S. Government, with the state responsible for another 6%.  To me personally its a good thing Рmore protected spaces to explore and enjoy!

Cows on the hillside

Cows on the hillside, can you spot them?

During our one-week stay, heat and wind played a role in our outdoor activities. ¬†And while my knee is getting better every day, it will be a while before I get back to the long hikes I’m missing so much.

Our¬†“must-see’s” near Lander included¬†Sinks Canyon State Park, Louis Lake¬†Road, Red Canyon, Shoshone National Forest, Sacajawea’s gravesite¬†and¬†Centennial Scenic Byway.

Popo Agie River

Popo Agie River swells with melting snow from the Wind River Mountain Range

Sinks Canyon is so named because of the “disappearing” Popo Agie River that flows through it from the Wind River Mountains. ¬†Midway down the canyon, the river rushes into a large cave, sinking into the fissures and cracks at the back of the cavern and disappearing. ¬†It then emerges 1/4 mile down the canyon at “the Rise” after its¬†2-hour underground excursion. ¬†Very cool!

Sinks Canyon

At the back of the cavern are a series of cracks and crevices called “The Sinks”

Spelunkers are unable to explore very far into the Sinks, hence no one knows the exact path the water travels while underground.  Geologists speculate that it circulates through many narrow, winding passages until it resurfaces.  Dye tests proved the connection between the Sink and Rise.

The Rise of the Sink Canyon

The water reappears here at the “Rise of the Sinks”, a large calm trout-filled pool

Just eight miles from Sinks Canyon State Park we crossed into Shoshone National Forest, the first national forest in the U.S.  Driving Louis Lake Road, we traveled through the forest and climbed up several tight switchbacks.  Our reward after cresting the ridge was scenic vistas and mountain meadows carpeted with yellow and purple flowers.

Arrow leaf Balsam root

Arrowleaf Balsamroot covered the hillside with yellow

Frye Lake

Frye Lake with Wind River Peak in the distance

Silky Phacelia

Fields of Silky Phacelia

Silky Phacelia

Closer view of Silky Phacelia

Red Canyon is a large exposure of Chugwater Sandstone that lies 18 miles south of Lander. The red color of the spectacular cliffs comes from oxidized iron that was formed 60 million years ago during the uplift of the Wind River Range to the west.

Currently designated as Red Canyon Wildlife Habitat Management Area, this landmark provides important wildlife habitat for elk, muledeer and a host of other small mammals.

Red Canyon Wildlife Habitat

Another auto hike took us to Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway on highway 26/287.  It goes all the way to the Grand Tetons, but we drove only 90 miles before turning around at the Tie Hack Memorial.  It was a good stop, for we learned  something Рdo you know what a tie hack is?

Tie Hack Memorial

Tie Hack Memorial

Tie hacks were lumberjacks who cut and shaped trees into railroad ties Рby hand Рfor the transcontinental railroad in the early 20th century.  Tie hacks were replaced long ago by gas powered sawmills, sawyers, cutters and skidders.

Tie Hack Memorial

The drive from Dubios, WY where the byway begins up to where we terminated our auto hike winds through broad valleys, pine forests and mountain scenery as it cuts through Shoshone National Forest.

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Togwotee Pass

Pinnacles at Togwotee Pass

Something we noted and appreciated during our drives was the way Wyoming uses its signage at the many points of interest:

Wyoming Signage

Crow heart Butte

Crowheart Butte

Folks¬†like us who enjoy the history of¬†the Lewis and Clark Expedition will¬†remember Sacajawea. ¬†She was the Shoshone woman who assisted¬†Lewis and Clark’s¬†expedition to the Pacific Ocean. ¬†An active cemetery, the Sacajawea Cemetery in the Wind River Indian Reservation at¬†Fort Washakie is named for her. ¬†Her official gravesite is located there, and we were happy to find¬†it after searching through another cemetery on the other side of town and thinking we’d missed it.

Sacajawea Cemetery

In search of the Sacajea gravesite.  The cemeteries here are very colorful!

Between sightseeing¬†tours, Steve completed some “Betsy tasks”, including replacing the engine CCV filter (his post¬†here). ¬†He also did some more mundane chores including yet another “Betsy Bath” to remove the relentless dust from recent winds. ¬†He rewarded himself (and me) with a nice batch of buffalo wings as he continues his quest for the perfect wing.

While Steve worked I ran off to snap more images of my feathered friends at our feeder. Although not new birds for me, they always put a smile on my face.

When we stopped at Lander (Steve’s campground review here) we didn’t know there would be so many interesting things to do and so many hiking opportunities – even though I’m not up to that yet. ¬†It was a great place to get our first taste of Wyoming, and we’re ready to see more!

 

Next up:  A place called Cody