Explore Wyoming

Mike asked me to attempt writing something that  might hold your interest, my first blog.

We take time off in the spring and fall, close the cafe and take in only a few hotel guests so we can make repairs and improvements to the building, relax (which means sleeping in for me) and some travel.  This fall we were invited to the Wyoming Tourism Convention in Riverton Wyoming.  We passed through the area of Lander and Riverton years ago and have always wanted to re-visit.

We drove over the Snowy Range on Highway 130 in a rain and snow mix. Then we jumped on I-80 to Rawlins and north on US-287 turn at Muddy Gap Junction, which has gas and a store. You can also sign your name or draw a picture anywhere inside the store if you bring your own marker or pen. We stopped to stretch our legs at Devil’s Gate, a geographic feature that the Overland Trail and Pony Express used to navigate the land.  The high plain covered in sage, is a grayish-tan, with mountains to the south of us.  As we continued west the land starts to show glimpses of red soil until the land and road in front of you drops and whole hillsides are red with white stripes.  Our next stop was Johnny Behind the Rock, a trail loop close to Lander.  We went our separate ways to explore among the red sandstone formations, large sagebrush and cedars.  Mike choose to climb the right side ridge. I stayed below and took pictures of the 5 foot tall sage bushes then climbed the left formation to explore.

Johnny Behind the Rock - Standing on the left side, Mike had climbed the flatter red side
Johnny Behind the Rock – Standing on the left side, Mike had climbed up the flatter red side

The next morning we left Lander for our first Wyoming State Park, Sinks Canyon S.P.  The sink itself is pretty impressive, the river in the canyon turns sharply and goes under a cliff then disappears…yes disappears into the ground and comes back up a few hundred yards down the canyon.

Sinks Canyon State Park
Sinks Canyon State Park
Sinks Canyon State Park,  where the river turns and goes under ground
Sinks Canyon State Park, where the river turns and goes under ground

It is a place where you want to climb down as far as you can go to see where the hole is.  If only we had super flashlights and wet suits.  Unfortunately the visitor center closed after Labor Day so we missed out, it looked like there were some interesting displays inside.  We were impressed with the signage at the trail head in the state park educating you to be conscious of transferring non-native invasive plant species seeds on your shoes, clothes and pets.  We continued to drive up the canyon then started to climb in a series of switchbacks that gave us views of flat land where Lander sits.  This took us into the Shoshone National Forest(the Wind River Range is here) where we drove 20+ miles on decently graded gravel roads. There was new signs throughout the Forest, which made us jealous because our forest district (Medicine Bow-Routt) needs a lot of TLC.  We saw squirrels, chipmunks a grouse and beaver dams.  We stopped at the largest lake and watched the huts for a while in hopes of seeing a beaver being busy, no sightings or sounds.

The conference that propelled us to the area was definitely worthwhile. We met many new people, and the speakers were informative.  We learned about the State of Wyoming tourism campaign for the coming year, #ThatsWY    And Mike got to meet and speak with our Governor Matt Mead for a few minutes and invited him and his family to visit the cafe soon.

Looking over Shoshone National Forest at the Wind River Range, after driving over and through
Looking over Shoshone National Forest and the Wind River Range, after driving over and through