Wyoming is a place of stark contrasts and wonderful, spacious treasures. Anyone who has “cruised” thru Wyoming on I-80 only, has not only done themselves a great disservice, but has passed by as one who has walked right by Aladdin’s cave of wonders. Wyoming gives, to those who give of themselves.
My dad and I first discovered this when crossing thru Wyoming about a decade ago on I-90 (northern), only slightly more interesting than I-80 (southern). We were heading west and had planned to shoot on over to Yellowstone Park, hit the Tetons, and Jackson Hole- all of which are beautiful by any standard, and fairly well known. However, in this particular year we had begun to hear horror stories all the way east into South Dakota about the long lines and evilness awaiting us in the form of massive road construction. We got bold that year, gave ourselves to the great, unknown interior of Wyoming and discovered much of its true hidden beauty and treasures when we shot down at an angle through the center of the state. Now I plan that route in to as many trips out west that we take, as I can. It is always one of my favorite rides.
The next year, we took that interior trip backwards, beginning in mid Utah, heading back east. There are a couple of ways that you can go: if you are short on time you can hop on to I-80 and pickup 191 at Rock Springs, Colorado, or, if you have the extra time you can take 40 east across Utah and get on 191 at Vernal, UT. Once you get on 191, you head north. If you can get on 191 at Vernal, UT you will have the pleasure of riding up through Flaming Gorge on your way out of Utah. If you know much about the Utah countryside, you will know that the name gives you a fairly good idea of what might be awaiting you, especially in the early morning or late evening light. It is a gorgeous gorge, appearing to be in flames.
Don’t despair if you can’t catch Flaming Gorge, there is still so much to see you head north. You will still see beauty to overflowing. Make no mistake, it can be desert in some areas and rather hot, it also is so open that you can get really tough, high winds trying to drive you away from your chosen path, but go forward undaunted.
As you cross county so open that it looks like you could ride forever, the highway works its way from heading north, to heading more easterly. The winds can be very powerful as you travel in Wyoming, from the west, the countryside is all washed out shades of whitish-grey, highlighted with pale creams when suddenly, in stark contrast, you enter Red Canyon.
Red Canyon is as advertised, its dark, blood red. Coming from the southwest you enter in at the top of the canyon and you work your way down and thru it. I’ve been through many canyons and often wondered at the mighty upheavals of earth that made them. Red Canyon is geologically intriguing and I suggest you take a quick stop at the overlook, on the topside (heading west to east), before you go into the canyon. The earth looks like a giant “wave” of earth, rather than water, you can see the build of the wave, the almost crest in some areas, and where it spilled all the way over and crashed into others. Red Canyon’s wave crest is green, where the foam and froth from the wave would have been if it was water, and the rest is blood red rock, which comes from the depths of the earth, rather than the ocean. Leaving Red Canyon, you feel rewarded, but not sated.
After you say goodbye to Wyoming is sad, in either direction (heading east or west). However, now that you know where Wyoming’s jewels are, you are free to come back any time. Going in either direction is a special day, and each way yields a fresh experience.
Posted by Chaco Kid Labels: travel