Virtual Travel – Wyoming

We have arrived at the last state in this tour – but fear not there are other maps and places to visit tomorrow….

But for now we are in Wyoming.

 

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State Capitol in Cheyenne. It was completed in 1890. (photos from Wikipedia)

Wyoming State Capitol Photograph by Mountain Dreams

 

 

State Symbol

State Code of Ethics. From the book Cowboy Ethics  by James Owen.

1.  Live each day with courage.
 2.  Take pride in your work.
 3.  Always finish what you start.
 4.  Do what has to be done.
 5.  Be tough, but fair.
 6.  When you make a promise, keep it.
 7.  Ride for the brand
 8.  Talk less, say more.
 9.  Remember that some things are not for sale.
10. Know where to draw the line.
State Mammal – American Bison

 

 

Culture

1947 – Cowgirl    1955 – Cowgirl    1960 – Rodeo    1982 – Pioneers    2002 – Cowboys     2003 – Cowboys    2010 – Cows     2011 – Bison

 

While the European descendants culture of Wyoming is the cowboy, the Native American’s have been here for thousands of years. Evidence of this culture is found in the Legend Rock Petroglyphs. This is one of the best collections we have ever seen.

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Roads

1948 – Wind River Canyon    1963 – Giant Lincoln along Lincoln Highway    1996 – Scenic Mountain Routes    1997 – Wildflowers     1998 – Scenic Routes    2009 – Scenic Routes     2014 – Battle Pass Scenic Byway

 

 

The drive from Cody to Yellowstone is unique.

 

 

The area around Thermopolis has it’s own unique look.

 

 

 

 

National Parks and Forests

1952 – Yellowstone    1958 – Palisades between Cody and Yellowstone      1968 – Tetons     1970 – Tetons    1985 – Big Horn National Forest    2004 – Rock Climbing in Grand Tetons    2006 – Buttes – Devils Tower    2016 – Yellowstone

 

 

Arguably one of the most interesting places in the world is Yellowstone National Park.

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Nature and the Outdoors

1954 – Snake River     1966 – Mountains     1967 – Ayers Natural Bridge     1969 – Sunset     1971 – Brooks Lake Creek Falls     1972 – Belle Fourche River Red Cliffs     1974 – Deep Lake and Temple Peaks     1978 – Cattle Ranch near Sheridan     1983 – Gros Ventre River near Jackson     1984 – Cody Fall Colors     1994 – Flowers     2001 – Fishing     2005 – Skiing     2008 – Native Americans     2012 – Outdoor Activities      2013 – Wildlife and Lincoln Highway 100th anniversary

 

 

The Northern Wyoming mountains are very colorful.

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Wyoming – National Parks Road Trip – Day 7 – Bighorn Canyon, Legend Rock Petroglyphs and Thermopolis

Day 7 began in the early morning, leaving Billings to go south to Wyoming.

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After passing through a few small town we reached Lovell, Wyoming, home of (among other things) Pryor Mountain Mustang Ranch. Just at the edge of town is a small visitor center with information and photos of the ponies.  The range is a refuge for a significant herd of free-roaming Mustangs, called “wild horses”, located in the Pryor Mountains of Montana and Wyoming. The horses run freely through an open range of nearly 40,000 acres which is the first protected refuge dedicated exclusively for Mustangs; it lies within the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The visitor center host, Linda, has named each wild horse and would identify them as she showed us their photos. After providing us some excellent guidance, she sent us on our way.

After a short drive, we arrived at the entrance to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, where Pryor Mountain is located . While we did not see wild mustangs running through the cliffs and valleys, we did see beautiful colorful mountains on the winding road along the way. Our first hike on a trail up a cliff lead to a great viewing spot, but we were unable to spot the wild horses. The 40,000 acres gives the horses a lot of land to roam without being seen.

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Further into the park we went back into Montana, noted by a small wood sign. Our picturesque drive rose more than 9400 feet in elevation as we made our way into the mountain range. Just ahead we reached a parking lot for the Devil Canyon Overlook. Little did we know when we got out of the car we were coming up on a 1000′ drop to the lake at the bottom of the canyon. Other than the Grand Canyon this view is the most impressive canyon we have ever seen. We stood breathlessly at the overlook trying to capture a photo of its exquisiteness.

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When we told Linda that we were headed for Thermopolis she asked how much time we had, as there was a scenic route and a fast route. We opted for the scenic route, and are very happy that we did. As we left Bighorn Canyon we were greeting with very colorful mountains, lakes and rivers, and excellent curving roads.

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US 14A ascends the Big Horn mountains, peaking out in a pass at over 9400′ elevation, continually providing overlooks. Once we reached to alpine valley at the top we reached the turnoff to go back down the mountain.

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After descending a four mile stretch to a rest area with walkways at Shell Falls, a spectacular waterfall in the Bighorn National Forest on Shell Creek. The falls drop 120′ over the granite rock.

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The town at the bottom of the mountain is Greybull, Wyoming. As it is the only town for miles they had a good selection of restaurants for such a small town; we opted for lunch at Historic Hotel Greybull, built in 1916, with a small dining room. The small dining room was very busy, and we enjoyed a casual lunch before continuing south.

First stop after our arrival in Thermopolis, Wyoming was the visitor center. I had two venues I wanted to see while there; Legend Rocks Petroglyphs and the Thermopolis Hot Springs. Once again the visitor center attendant, Kay, was very helpful and recommended we go to Legend Rocks first as it closed early.

We drove the 20 miles or so out of town, down some dirt roads before arriving at a small gravel parking lot with a cabin and a huge RV. The cabin/office was open but unattended – we picked up a pamphlet and headed out. Heading down the hill we found 15 separate sets of petroglyphs and pictographs made by Native Americans. We carried the pamphlet outlining where to find the rock art because some of them were faded and hard to see. Marker 3 had etchings that were 11,000 years old while others were 6,000 to 8,000 B. C. Elk, bison, people, turtles, rabbits, hawks and dark figures with short arms were carved in stone. Some art was painted

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. After completing our tour we returned to the car and headed back to town, passing through an oilfield called Hamilton Dome, complete with vacant buildings.

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Arriving back in Thermopolis we found that the hotel I had made reservations at, a Best Western, was in a restored building in the Wyoming State Park that contained the springs. After checking in we walked over to the hot springs, where it constantly measures a temperature of 135 F degrees as it spouts out of the earth and is has a rotten egg smell due to the high sulfur, magnesium, and carbon dioxide content of the water. People flock to Thermopolis believing that the hot spring water has healing power. The hot spring supply here is not from magma but trickles down from the surface into deep fissures in the rock where it is heated and then resurfaces through the spring. The walk to the spring to see the bubbling water surface then slowly flow over flat surface rocks to a public bath and pool was scenic, but smelly.

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We ate dinner at the Safari Club of Days Inn. The dining room was decorated with hundreds of stuffed animal heads mounted to the walls. These animals were from hunting exploits of the owner, Mr. Mills, who personally bagged 85% of all the animals displayed. How do I know this, well it is bragged about on the inside of the menu. It felt creepy sitting underneath taxidermy heaven. It was a Noah’s Ark of the animal kingdom on display for all to see. Elk, tiger skins, leopard skins, fish, bobcats, swordfish, deer, bear, and more were mounted. Perhaps it was the decor here that was famous because it sure wasn’t for the taste in food.

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Our Best Western hotel had a hot tub with water from the hot spring. We spent about 15 minutes soaking in the hot tub of green-tinted water, then about 30 minutes taking a shower to get rid of the smell.

It was a great day, difficult to choose which was the best moment, Bighorn Canyon or the Legend Rocks Petroglyphs.