We left our boat in Belfast for the summer of 2017 and took some car trips instead. One of those was in Wyoming. We flew to Denver, rented a car, and spent 2 1/2 weeks driving around the state and staying, mostly, in log cabins.
We had several guide books while planning the trip. Our favorite was Scenic Driving Wyoming by Laurence Parent. That book offers detailed maps and descriptions for 30 especially scenic drives in different parts of the state. We were able to follow most of those drives during our visit.
The first of those scenic drives was a loop around and within the Vedauwoo Rocks park in the part of Medicine Bow National Forest a few miles southeast of Laramie.
Our second drive from that book was along Sybille Creek between Laramie and Wheatland.
After stopping for lunch in Wheatland, we took a loop over the Laramie Mountains and through the Cottonwood Park valley.
We spent that night at the Fort Laramie B&B where we had a choice of staying in the officers quarters, the bungalow, the tepee or the sheep wagon. We chose the sheep wagon.
The B&B is on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch owned and managed solely by Arnold Tollefson and his wife Kathy. In the morning, Arnold makes coffee for himself and his guests.
The next day we drove 300 miles west to Dubois. Along the way we took a 100 mile long scenic bypass through the southern Bighorn Mountains and the Red Wall canyons. The only traffic we saw along those 100 miles were two pickup trucks heading the other way.
In Dubois, we stayed in a tie hack cabin. When the first transcontinental railway was being built, the tie hacks were the men who cut down trees around here and hewed them into ties. They had a unique way of building cabins for themselves and any remaining ones, like the one we stayed in, are easily identifiable.
You can tell an authentic tie hack by the circular marks left from trimming the bark.
One of our reasons for being in Dubois was to meet my daughter Ingrid at the Jackson airport. This is Ingrid.
The cabin had room for only two of us. The owner, Chris Fusco, had built a separate bunkhouse for just such occasions. Ingird was its first occupant.
Chris has four dogs that have learned a large repertoire of tricks from him. Ingrid shot some GoPro videos of the dogs going through their routines. Here are a few stills from those videos.
On the way to the airport to pick up Ingrid, we stopped at Brooks Lake.
We then bypassed several miles of the "highway" by taking the Flagstaff road over the Mt. Leidy Highlands.
We bypassed a few more miles by taking Buffalo Valley Road.
The following day we drove up and over the Wind Range mountains through Union Pass. All along the way there were magnificent views of the Tetons, wildflower meadows below towering peaks, raging streams, patches of snow and a waterfall.
The next day we drove to Lander and stayed at the Baldwin Creek B&B which has four small cabins with scenic views but no breakfast.
After settling in we drove a few miles further south to the ghost town of Miner's Delight. The nearby gold mining cities of South Pass and Atlantic were much larger and rowdier. Miner's Delight was secluded and quieter. The BLM has been trying to shore up the old cabins, saloon and cold house.
From Lander we drove back to the park at Sinks Canyon where the Po Po Agie river goes underground.
It comes back up about a half mile downstream but it takes 4 hours. Nobody seems to know why it takes so long.
Just down the road from there are some ancient petroglyphs. There are no signs there to mark or explain them. A guide told us where they were and we found them ager a brief search.
We then headed back toward Jackson then south to Afton near the Idaho border. We stayed in the Cottonwood Cabin at the Old Mill.
It was quite an elegant cabin with a loft. We stayed there two nights so we could have a day to get Ingrid back to the Jackson Hole airport.
We then headed north to Cody, traveling through two national parks: Teton and Yellowstone. Here are some scenes from Yellowstone.
The traffic through Yellowstone, even on the Grand Loop, was surpassingly light.
In the park we saw deer, elk, bison, eagles, ravens, swans, geese and pelicans. Only the raven posed for a photo.
After leaving the park, on the way to Cody, the geology changed dramatically.
We spent the night at the Cody Cowboy Village which is within walking distance of the Rodeo Arena.
There is a rodeo there every summer night.
After breakfast we walked to the nearby Old Trail Town. This was a creation of Bob Edgar, a local archaeologist, historian, curator and a man of many other talents. He wanted to preserve as much of 19th century Wyoming as he could. In 1967 he began bringing authentic cabins, wagons, and artifacts here from all over the state and installed them in this “new old" trail town.
There are many types of cabins including those of trappers, buffalo hunters, settlers, outlaws and others.
The first cabin on the tour was the home of Curley, a Crow Indian who scouted for the US army, including Custer. Curley snuck out at Little Big Horn and was the first to bring news of the massacre. Here’s Curley.
Another cabin is the one used by Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and others at Hole in the Wall. Here’s a photo of the gang.
There is also an actual old store, school and saloon.
There must be at least 100 wagons, some outside, some inside. Here are a few.
There are several graves of well known figures at the site including Buffalo Bill’s grandson and early rodeo star Floyd Stillings. Other graves here include buffalo hunter Jim White, frontiersman and scout Jack Stillwell, trapper Philip Vetter, murdered cowboys W. A. Gallagher and Blind Bill, and the famous Woman in Blue, Belle Drewry Jeremiah Johnston was reinterred here in 1974. (Johnston had been buried in a California VA cemetery that was about to become a highway.) You may recognize one of Johnston's pall bearers.
There’s a nice collection of Indian artifacts.
This is a saddle.
After the tour, we continued eastward to the Bighorn Mountains.
We stopped at the Medicine Lodge archaeolgical site which has been occupied for 10,000 years.
There we saw several more petroglyphs from about 2500 years ago.
In Tensleep there are three lodges (motel, restaurant and cabins) owned by the Jones family. We expected to stay in a cabin at Deer Haven but chose the motel there instead, as it had a bathroom. This is the view from our motel room.
We moved the next day to the their motel at Meadowlark as it had a better view across Meadowlark Lake.
There are several campgrounds within a mile or two of Meadowlark. All appeared to be full. This is the road to the campgrounds near West Tensleep Lake.
This is West Tensleep Lake itself.
This is the road to the Sitting Bull campground.
There is a path along the shore of Meadowlark Lake.
From Meadowlark we drove back through the Basin to the Shell Canyon passage through the Bighorns.
The drive is another spectacularly scenic one.
After leaving the Bighorn Mountains we drove north into Montana where we spent a night at the Two Bears Inn near Red Lodge.
Below is one view from the inn.
After a delicious breakfast at the inn, we headed further into the Beartooth Mountains.
What looks like haze in the photo below is smoke from a large forest fire.
We went over the top of these mountains at Beartooth Pass.
After descending into the valley we drove through the Wind River Canyon on our way to Alcova.
If you look closely, you can see the head of a bear swimming across the Wind River.
We spent the night in the exceptionally well furnished Inn at Alcova.
Just up the road from the inn is the Alcova Dam built during the depression. It's 265' tall.
The dam creates this 2500 acre lake.
On the way to Saratoga we drove over the Snowy Mountain Range.
In Saratoga we stayed at the venerable Hotel Wolf which is still much the same as when it opened in 1893.
There's a hot springs near the hotel.
The old mining town of Encampment is a few miles away.
A bit south of Encampment is an easy drive on a well maintained gravel road through the Sierra Madre mountains.
I'll close this chapter with photos of the two most common large animals, other than cattle, that we've seen on this trip.