In the shadow of Farson, Wyoming, where the prairies echo with the tales of old-time ranchers, our RV adventure took an unexpected turn. The whipcord-slim cowboy at Farson Mercantile made it clear that, for him, Florida was a world away, and in the vast reaches of Wyoming, perhaps it truly was. As we savored ice cream instead of dust from a cattle roundup, the essence of this Western-cultured state enveloped us. This was the Wyoming we yearned to explore, a land where horseback round-ups were the norm, and the concept of tourism felt like a distant echo.
Our original plan had hit a roadblock, forcing us to choose between the allure of Washington and Oregon or delving deeper into the heart of Montana and Wyoming. The decision was made, and our Winnebago Sightseer rolled through the Red Desert, where wild horses painted the landscape with untamed beauty. Wyoming's small-city-big-country vibe beckoned us, and we craved a profound exploration of a state woven with threads of ranching, mining, and railways.
Wyoming, vast and sparsely populated, challenged our perceptions. Cheyenne, its state capital, boasted a population smaller than a quaint English town, yet the state's expanse surpassed the entire UK by 4,000 square miles. Here, nature reigned supreme, offering the perfect canvas for an RV odyssey.
Our journey south-eastward from Glacier National Park unfolded through Montana's tapestry of small towns, each with its own narrative. Reed Point whispered ghostly tales, Shelby resonated with agricultural echoes, and Great Falls stood as a historical pivot for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805. At the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center, we delved into the compelling saga of the Corps of Discovery, their month-long struggle against the Missouri River's waterfalls, and the quaint mightiness of the 200ft Roe River at Giant Springs State Park—the shortest river in the world.
As we traded the beaten path for the open road, our gaze fixed on the uncharted horizons of Montana and Wyoming. The allure of rugged landscapes, the echoes of cowboy drawls, and the whispers of untold stories fueled our anticipation for the adventures awaiting us in the heartland of the American West.
In the heart of Reed Point, the boutiquey charm of the Old West RV Park beckoned, earning our accolades for its proximity to the Waterhole Saloon—an enclave of authenticity serving up burgers that danced on the taste buds. Just a stone's throw away, the Greycliff Mill Harvest Host site emerged as a modern-day contrast, enticing us with heavenly milkshakes, bagels, and paninis. The Boulder River scenic drive unfolded like a visual feast, with Natural Bridge Falls adding a touch of nature's grandeur to our journey.
Venturing southward into Wyoming, our exploration of cowboy culture gained momentum in the town of Buffalo. The stately presence of The Occidental Hotel and its 1908 Saloon painted a vivid portrait of the Old West, while Sheridan, with its charming downtown, led us to Peter D’s RV Park—a haven of hospitality in the realm of RV camping.
At this juncture, 4,635 miles into our odyssey, the essence of RVing revealed itself. No longer a mere vessel for reaching scenic trails, our rig, fondly named Indefatigable or Fati for short, became the epicenter of exploration, launching us into the vast landscapes with our trusty Ford Fiesta, Nippy.
Choosing Sheridan, Casper, Wheatland, and Green River as our strategic headquarters, we embraced the essence of Wyoming. Sheridan unfolded the impressive Tongue River Canyon and the historic Fort Phil Kearney, a battleground during Red Cloud's War from 1866-68. Casper, a gateway to the fabled Oregon Trail, invited us to stand on the iconic Independence Rock, pondering the challenges faced by pioneers on their 2,170-mile trek westward. Wheatland guided us southward to the cowboy outposts of Cheyenne and Fort Laramie, while the US-34 scenic drive unveiled mountain vistas that left us in awe. Wind River Canyon, a gateway to Thermopolis and its thermal springs, captured our imagination, providing a glimpse into the geological wonders hidden within Wyoming's embrace.
As we marveled at Castle Rock overlooking Green River, Wyoming, we realized that our journey was more than miles traveled—it was an immersion into the soul of the American West, where each stop unfolded layers of history, culture, and natural wonders waiting to be discovered.
In the midst of our American odyssey, a glance at the map revealed a mere 150 miles standing between us and the grandeur of Rocky Mountain National Park, just beyond the Colorado border. Steering Nippy towards this natural spectacle, we prepared to immerse ourselves in the Rockies once more, but this encounter promised something distinct. Surrounded by peaks that soared to 14,000 feet, our "WPMs" (Wows Per Minute – trademark pending) reached unprecedented heights as we marveled at a 360-degree panorama of mountain splendor.
The journey unfolded with a scenic drive along Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway, a mere prelude to the main act—US-34 leading into the National Park. Arriving in Estes Park, the full majesty of the Rockies unfolded before us. Amidst this breathtaking landscape, a solitary moose crossed our path, a living symbol of nature's abundance. Trail Ridge Road elevated our experience to new heights, reaching 12,000 feet above sea level, where the tree line yielded to boundless views in every direction.
Descending from this alpine perch to a still-impressive 8,000 feet, our route westward to Green River in Wyoming unfolded a surprising encore. In the shadow of Castle Rock and at the edge of the high plains Red Desert, Green River emerged as a city steeped in history. It marked the beginning of John Wesley Powell's 1869 expedition to the Grand Canyon, a pivotal point in exploration. More enticingly, it served as the gateway to the Flaming Gorge – Green River All American Road, a 45-mile roller-coaster ride zigzagging into Utah and the Uinta Mountains.
Midway through this thrilling 154-mile round-trip, we stumbled upon the unexpected wonder of Red Canyon Overlook. Perched 1,631 feet above the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, this precipitous point offered views that seemed to stretch halfway to eternity. Starting in the high desert adorned with hardy sagebrush and sunflowers, our journey transitioned through a captivating landscape of hogbacks, bowls, ridges, and ancient river canyons before reaching the high-altitude pine forest of Red Canyon.
Wildlife played its part in this natural symphony, with sage grouse, wild horses, mule deer, and the ever-present pronghorn antelope adding to the allure of the Wyoming wilderness. As we navigated through these realms, each mile echoed with the untamed spirit of the West, leaving us in awe of the diverse wonders etched into the landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park and the rugged roads of Wyoming.
As our wheels traced the vast expanse of I-80, carrying us westward towards Idaho, Wyoming unfolded its geological marvels, challenging our comprehension of the earth's ancient terraforming forces—wind, water, and frost. What lay before us was not merely a landscape; it was a testament to the unyielding powers of nature, untouched by human activity or degradation. A pristine sanctuary, bordering on the sacred, it left an indelible mark on our souls.
The enormity of Wyoming revealed itself in the expansive horizons that filled our windscreen, a spectacle of big-sky attributes that transcended the mundane and reached into the realms of magic. Each mile reinforced the essential vastness of this state, painting a canvas where nature's untouched beauty held sway.
Yet, amidst this awe-inspiring panorama, a lone somber note echoed—the haunting presence of the Sand Creek Massacre Trail. A tragic chapter in history, it recounted the brutal attack by the US Army on a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho camp in 1864, leaving men, women, and children slaughtered. The trail traced the survivors' 600-mile journey, a painful reminder of a 159-year-old outrage that endured in silence until 1990 when the government finally issued an official apology. The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, established in 2000, stands as a solemn testament to this dark episode, marking the only National Historic Site bearing the weight of the word "massacre."
In the wake of this poignant encounter, our journey continued, carrying the weight of history and the resilience of Wyoming's untouched landscapes. With Idaho and Utah on the horizon, the road beckoned, promising new chapters in a tale of exploration and contemplation. Wyoming, with its contradictions of pristine sanctity and historical scars, etched itself into our memories as a place where nature's grandeur and human history coexisted, challenging us to reflect on the delicate balance between the two. The road, as always, unfolded as a path of discovery and introspection, leading us toward the unknown wonders that awaited beyond the borders of Wyoming.
As our journey through Wyoming's vast expanse unfolded, it became more than a mere exploration of landscapes—it became an immersion into the intricate tapestry of time and nature. Wyoming, with its untouched sanctity and geological wonders, challenged our understanding and left an indelible mark on our souls.
The expansive horizons of I-80 painted a picture of Wyoming's essential vastness, where big-sky attributes filled our windscreen and beckoned us into a realm of magic. Nature's hand, untouched by human interference, transformed the landscape into a pristine sanctuary that bordered on the sacred. Yet, within this ethereal beauty, the haunting presence of the Sand Creek Massacre Trail served as a poignant reminder of the historical scars etched into Wyoming's soil.
As we continued westward, the road carried the weight of history and the resilience of Wyoming's untouched landscapes. The dichotomy of pristine sanctity and historical wounds became the essence of our Wyoming odyssey, challenging us to reflect on the delicate balance between nature's grandeur and human history.
With Idaho and Utah on the horizon, the road stretched into the unknown, promising new chapters of exploration and introspection. Wyoming, with its contradictions and complexities, became a chapter in our journey where time and nature coexisted, urging us to contemplate the intricate dance between the two forces.
In concluding our Wyoming odyssey, we embraced the lessons learned from the vast expanses of I-80 to the sacred silence of the Sand Creek Massacre Trail. Each mile traveled echoed the resilience of Wyoming's landscapes and the stories hidden within its folds. The road, as always, led us forward, leaving Wyoming behind as a canvas of memories—a place where the untamed spirit of the West met the enduring echoes of history, inviting us to continue our exploration of the wonders that lie beyond the borders of this captivating state.