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May 24, 2014 / mws

2014 Wyoming Tour

May 16, Friday

Arrival occurred at Denver International Airport.  Hertz provided us with a rental vehicle and we settled in at a nearby Hampton Inn for the night.

May 17, Saturday

Arbuckle Lodge Bison

We drove northwest through the Denver suburbs (avoiding toll road 470) to head north on I-25.  Most of the day was driving and taking in the sights. Just north of Denver we saw a group of 4 camels (yes, I said camels) in a field.  What a strange sight that was! After crossing into Wyoming, we turned off on Rt 59 North.  Along the way we saw hundreds of prong horn antelopes in the fields and some were sharing their territory with the local cattle.  We arrived at Gillette, Wyoming for a night’s rest at the very western Arbuckle Lodge.

Though we have seen many mounted animals in our western travels, this was the first bison with a cowboy hat!!

 

May 18, Sunday

Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Our main destination for today was Devil’s Tower in northwest Wyoming.  We had visited once before in the fall and decided a re-visit was in order.

President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower National Monument in September of 1906.

 

Prairie Dog family

Prairie Dog family

 

 

There are trails, a Visitors Center, and on the way in an amusing colony of prairie dogs. Some people say that Native Americans considered the Devils Tower area a sacred place for prayer and renewal.

 

 

Monument climbersIt was a sunny 70 degree day and the crowds were very light.  We took the Tower Trail around the base of the monument and watched the climbers go straight up the sides.

There was a side road that led to Joyner Ridge Trail.  We were the only ones on this trail, and we enjoyed the solutide and found it a great place to take some photos.

We also ventured out to the Belle Fourche Campground for more photo ops. On the way out we took in the Circle of Sacred Smoke Monument.

We backtracked through Gillette and stayed in Buffalo, Wyoming for the night.  Downtown Buffalo was fun with western wall murals and the authenic Occidental Hotel.

May 19, Monday

Snow covered Bighorn Mountains

Snow covered Bighorn Mountains

 

The Big Horn Mountains are in north central Wyoming.   There is a driving loop including the Southern Cloud Peak Skyway on Route 16 and The Big Horn Scenic Byway (Rt 14) which connects Sheridan and Greybull. There is also an alternate route 14 that is scenic but closed in winter.

We started in Buffalo, WY and headed west on Route 16 towards Worland. It was a lovely day for this scenic route.  There were multiple stops for pictures, of course.  At one of the first stops, Lance spied a moose on a ridge in front of the trees.  Good job, Lance!  At the top of the 9,666 foot Powder River Pass, it was 34 degrees and naturally, we were out taking photos.  On the other side of the pass we were stopped at a pulloff and two moose trotted across the road.  The mountains were snow covered as was much of the upper wooded area.

Check in desk at the Historic Greybull Hotel

Check in desk at the Historic Greybull Hotel

We had looked forward to seeing Shell Falls on Route 14, but when we got there it was closed. Boo!!!   Lance crossed the barrier and took photos of a waterfall, but it wasn’t Shell Falls.

A  highlight of the day was a stop at Dirty Annies Country Store.  Here we found authentic local flavor!  There was a great gift shop, and a restaurant with delicious apple streusel pie.  This was a major stop for the bus trips and well worth it!  All this was located in a setting at the base of the Bighorn Mountains!

For a change of pace in lodging we stayed at the Historic Greybull Hotel.  The furnishings were antique but with modern amenities, of course.

 

 

May 20, Tuesday

Female Bighorn sheepToday was a weather dependent day as we wanted to try at least part of Alternate Route 14 through another section of the Bighorns. There was still a lot of snow on the mountains and Rt 14A winds through the mountains.  AND, the road was still closed so we had to go to plan B.

We decided to try to get into the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and see if could get lucky enough to get a glimpse of the 100 wild mustangs.  We drove north to Lovell, WY and stopped at the Bighorn Canyon Visitors Center.  A very nice ranger gave me good information about looking for the horses and also where to look for bighorn sheep.   We headed  north on Route 37 into the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation area.

Our eyes were pealed for the mustangs. We stopped at the overlook at Devil Canyon, just across the Montana border.  Here you can look down into a 1000 foot water-filled canyon.  Our next stop was just after crossing from Wyoming to Montana. Here we took a hike out to the rim of the canyon and gazed deep down into the bottom of the Bighorn Canyon.

Pryor Mountain Wild Horse RangeWhen we were almost to the end of the drive, we looked up and on the road coming at us were 5 cowboys on their horses.  They were going to do a cattle roundup out on the range. We drove on to the end of the paved road at Barry’s Landing without any animal sightings.  On the way back we decided to try Devil’s Canyon again and were lucky to see two female bighorn sheep.  That perked us up as we continued on our way.

And then just down the road, we spied two of the wild horses.  They went back into the trees so we followed them and got great photos.  The horses came back towards us and crossed the road to pose in front of the mountains.  Perfect!

The Bighorn mountains are a great place to escape into nature and not have crowds of other people around you.  Even though they are so close to Yellowstone, most tourists do not venture to see the exceptional beauty of the Bighorns.

May 21, Wednesday – May 24, Saturday

Along the Wind River in Dubois, WYIt was such a gorgeous day on May 21 that we canned our original route for that day and drove through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons to get to Dubois, Wyoming. I was semi euphoric just to be in the parks again.  We saw bison, elk and in GTNP a grizzly and two cubs!!  🙂

After our delightful drive through the parks, we made our way to Dubois, Wyoming. Time for some relaxation!  Dubois was selected by American Cowboy Magazine in 2012 as one of the Best Rural Towns. We rented a house at the western town just across from the Super Foods which was very convenient.

Our rental home was delightful with everything we needed to enjoy our time there, including satellite TV, wifi, laundry facilities, and a full kitchen.  The Wind River flowed just below our back patio and a short walk and a bridge crossing took us to hiking trails along the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains. 

Whiskey Basin, Dubois, WYOne day we drove over to Lander, Wyoming.  On the way we stopped at the scenic Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat area.  There was gorgeous scenery with lakes and snow covered mountains.  We saw only deer and elk, but the scenic views were quite enough!

Just south of Lander is a 60 mile loop through scenic mountain backcountry between Lander and South Pass City. Part of this road takes  you through Sinks Canyon State Park.  This is a wildlife area with nature trails and campgrounds located along the Popo Agie River.

Another lovely drive from the town of Dubois took us up Horse Creek Road to Double Cabin Campground.  Again, you just can’t say enough about the spectacular scenery.  We saw deer and elk as the road continued to go deeper into the mountains.

On the way to Double Cabin Campground

On the way to Double Cabin Campground

Dubois and the Absaroka Mountains provide homes to large herds of elk, bighorn sheep, bears, wolves, moose and deer. We visited the National Big Horn Sheep Interpretive Center in downtown Dubois.  Also in the authentic western looking downtown area are restaurants and shopping.

Our favorite stop was the Cowboy Cafe, where the locals congregate for great food and good conversation.  We also greatly enjoyed the Water Wheel Gift Shop next door to the Cowboy Cafe.

June 13, 2014

Snowy Mountain trail

Snowy Mountain trail

After a glorious month in Wyoming, we had to head back to Denver to fly east.  On our last day we drove from Rawlins, WY to Denver, CO.  On the way we traveled though the beautiful Snowy Mountain Range.  It was a lovely drive on a gorgeous day.  We stopped at Lake Marie for photos and met a couple and their dog who were still able to snowshoe around Lake Marie.

I’m sure in late summer months, the hiking would be great here, but even in June the trails were all snow covered.  At the peak, there was one nature trail that involved only a short snowy section to walk across.  It was windy and cold at the summit!!

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived.”…..Henry David Thoreau

For more photos of our Wyoming trip, click here

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6 Comments

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  1. Kirk Tooley / May 10 2017 4:09 pm

    Hi, My wife and I and another couple are planning a 3 week trip to Colorado and Wyoming in early Sept. Flying into Denver, 3 days in Rapid City area, then to Little Bighorn in Montana, then making our way to Yellowstone, then to Grand Teton. We like small, scenic villages with a Western flair. Dubois sounded very nice. Do you have contact info for the house you rented. Thank you!

    • mws / May 12 2017 4:39 pm

      Hi Kirk, It sounds like you have a great trip planned. We rented from VRBO. It was called the Flying W Vacation Home in Dubois. It was a clean roomy home right on the river and the hosts gave us a lot of info.

      It is managed by a local in Dubois, and at the time we stayed the owner was living in California. Here is the phone number I used in 2014. 650-363-0473 Have fun planning!

  2. Anonymous / May 10 2017 4:01 pm

    Hi, We really enjoyed reading your trip report. My wife and I and another couple are doing a 3 week trip to Wyoming and Colorado trip in early September. We like smaller, scenic villages with a real Western flavor. Dubois sounds really nice. Do you have the contact info for the house you rented in Dubois?
    We are flying into Denver, then headed toward Rapid City for 3-4 days, after that to Bighorn in Montana, then making our way to Yellowstone, then to Grand Teton.
    Thank you!

    • mws / May 12 2017 4:41 pm

      I don’t know what areas in Colorado you are visiting, but if you like small out of the way, check out Twin Lakes, CO near Leadville. We stayed in the roadhouse there and we loved it.

  3. Lauren / Feb 10 2017 5:29 pm

    Hi Lance and Marilyn,

    My name is Lauren and I’m the Associate Photo Editor at RootsRated.com. I’m writing to ask if I may have your permission to use your image in an DuBois Wyoming feature article highlighting Whiskey Basin. I’ll be sure to credit you and link to your website.

    Can you help me out?

    Thanks in advance for your consideration.

    Best,
    Lauren Danilek
    lauren@rootsrated.com

    • mws / Feb 11 2017 1:23 pm

      Hello Lauren,
      Yes, it’s okay to use that image. It was beautiful that day and we were delighted to find this incredible area! Could you please let me know when the article is posted? Thank you.

      mwstrayer61@hotmail.com

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