For the first time since COVID-19 insanity took over America, my beloved and I got away, for less than 72 hours. How much relaxation and rejuvenation can you squeeze in to this much time? We headed to a very remote corner of Wyoming to find out!
Photo: Lake Marie under Medicine Bow Peak
We spent two nights at a beautiful and unique little bed & breakfast along the Encampment River, in the town of Riverside, Wyoming - population 52! 🤗 Using that as our "base of operations," we then spent a couple of wonderful days up in the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest!
Before taking a closer look, this is a map of the area:
Map of Area Covered in this Post
Here is a brief look at each of the highlight points illustrated above, with links to more information, if you are interested to know more:
- Location of the Spirit West River Lodge, in Riverside, Wyoming. The wonderful bed & breakfast in which we spent two restful nights.
- The "heart" of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, under snow-capped peaks. All on paved State Highway 130.
- Looped around behind the Snowy Range on dirt roads, to see more of the back country lakes and views. A little rough and wash-boarded in places, but still passable in a car, if so desired.
- The awesome 11,162 ft (3,402 m) Elk Mountain which I had driven past for over 50 years, without ever getting up in the high country behind it.
- Saratoga is the "capital" of the Platte Valley, through which the North Platte River flows. Among its attractions is the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort!
- A comparatively (for this area) huge lake, the Rob Roy Reservoir is a popular destination for fishing and boating.
- Holding water from the Rob Roy Reservoir is Lake Owen. We visited it simply because we have a grandson with this name! 🙂 Interesting history with the Laramie, Hahns Peak and Pacific Railway once running beside it.
Let's take a closer look ... 🧐
Day 1 - The "Heart" of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway
As you can can see in the lead image of this post, the scenery was spectacular! One of the few places in the West were I had never spent any time whatsoever, we were very pleasantly surprised by the Snowy Range Scenic Byway.
It most definitely exceeded our expectations!
Photos: More Lake Marie!
Having never been here, my beloved and I were struck by the natural beauty. We had also been blessed to arrive on a very nice day. There are National Parks in America with no prettier views and, in this case here in a remote corner of Wyoming, far fewer people with whom to share it!
Photos: Lake Marie "Falls" Trail
The outlet to Lake Marie goes down a nice "falls" which we would consider just a cascade down the mountainside. Very pretty with all of the lush high country wildflowers blooming in abundance. These high country plants have to do a lot of growing fast, since their growing season is so short at 10,000 feet (3,048 m) in elevation.
Photos: Lake Bellamy, Historic Information, and Remarkable "Out of Place" Rock!
The balance of the drive at the summit of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway was very pleasant. We took our time walking different portions of it. Since we were at ~ 10,000 ft. (+ 3,000 m) in elevation, the air was a touch thin!
The second half of the day, we elected to get even more off the "beaten path" and follow some dirt roads around the north side of the Snowy Range. Paved State Highway 130 goes along the south side. From a map, there appeared to be a significant number of lakes and streams to see. As well as a hoped-for view of the awesome Elk Mountain, from the high country behind it!
Photos: Elk Mountain, Long Lake, Turpin Reservoir
Glad we did! Seeing Elk Mountain from the high country behind it was a long-considered objective, since first driving past it over 50 years ago in Interstate 80 to the north of it. It is just a magical mountain, with a great deal of history surrounding it.
Looking to find a spectacular lake, at the end of a rugged 4X4 road, as the headwaters of the Bow River, Long Lake was a bit of a disappointment, since we can see it has already begun to "fill in," with lily pads. It was a reminder to us these lakes have a natural "life cycle" and slowly, but surely, silt in. Becoming wetlands and then meadows in the process. It is all as designed ...
Behind Turpin Reservoir, we see the north face of Medicine Bow Peak, which has the majestic Lake Marie (see above) on the south side of it. There was some amazing history associated with this reservoir. In building the transcontinental railroad just north of here in the 1860s, they needed timber for the cross-ties. This reservoir stored water which was released in "waves" which teams of men then used to "drive" huge piles of timber down the river below and out of these mountains into the valley, to waiting wagons and teams of horses!
We found a couple of wonderful spots on these back roads to just sit under whispering pines and quaking aspens and listen to the sound of clear running streams. As we talked about life ... With posting on the Hive blockchain the furthest from my mind, so no more pictures on Day 1 ... 😉
Trips to the high country always seem to be more "complete" somehow, when you are blessed with viewing some of the wildlife which makes its home there. How did that part of our day go?
Please read the
All things considered, we would have been hard-pressed to come up with how this day could've been any better! 🙏 💑
We had spent the previous day getting a good look at the "heart" of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. We also had explored around to the north of that area. On the second day, we decided we would explore south of the Snowy Range mountain peaks, with a particular focus on two lakes - the Rob Roy Reservoir and Lake Owen.
To get there, we went in the opposite direction we'd gone the previous day and headed up French Creek road, to get up out of the North Platte River valley and into the high country.
Photos: French Creek, Forest Road 500, Rob Roy Reservoir
Wyoming is largely high desert country. So streams like French Creek shown above were great examples of just how much water was flowing out of the Snowy Range. In every direction, we saw very nice streams like this one.
Once up out of the North Platte River valley, we were driving through the forest at an elevation of +9,000 feet (+2,750 m). This view (above) on Forest Road 500 was typical of the views we'd see, in some places along high ridges. In this case, we are looking southwest to the Mount Zirkel Wilderness just to the west of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The size of Rob Roy (a favorite movie of ours!) Reservoir, for this part of the West, was really something. My picture doesn't do it justice, only showing a part of it, with the dam in the far distance. Underscoring that we were visiting high desert country, we learned this reservoir is a primary source of water for the city of Cheyenne - about 95 miles (~ 153 km) away!
Our next destination was Lake Owen. Why? Very simply because we have a grandson named Owen and we wanted to take pictures of it for him! 🙂
Photos: Lake Owen, Railroad History, Historic Railcar
Frankly, Lake Owen was not all that impressive. Thinking it seemed more like a very large pond, with no obvious source of water coming into it, we learned that this was not too far off, as it serves as one of the holding reservoirs for all of the water passing through the Rob Roy Reservoir higher up. Which is, as we learned above, a key water source for the city of Cheyenne! We could only imagine all of the engineering tying all of this together.
At the edge of the lake, we were amazed to find some enterprising souls had decided it would be a great idea to build a railroad clear up into this area - the Laramie, Hahns Peak and Pacific Railway established in 1901. It operated clear down into northern Colorado and ran until 1951 - 50 years! Surprise, surprise, we learned it was very difficult and expensive to operate in the winter! 😲 🤷♂ And it was ultimately abandoned ... 😉
Later that afternoon, we were on our long drive home. An incredible 48 hours was coming to an end. We were blessed with it providing an excellent bit of refreshment and rejuvenation in that very short time span though!
"Surprise" Viewings of Magestic Wildlife!
For us who have been out in the Mountain West most of our lives, trips into the Great Outdoors are just not complete without at least some sightings of wildlife. We were especially blessed on this trip with just that!
Photos: An antelope and a bald eagle along the North Platte river.
Antelope are more commonly seen in Wyoming than any other state in America. Their population "spills over" a bit into neighboring Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, as we have seen them in each of those states. Outside of these 4 states, however, very few people have ever seen an antelope except perhaps in a zoo somewhere.
Antelope are fastest land animal in North America. They can reach speeds of up to 60 mph (97 kmh), for extended distances. Some say they are the fastest land animal over distance on earth. I know from experience, having once "chased" one in my car along a remote Wyoming highway, in my youth.
Waiting for it to jump the fence, as a deer would do, thankfully the person riding with me told me to stop, or the antelope would run itself literally to death. When I asked why it hadn't jumped the fence to escape, he said they would never jump the fence. By design, they will only attempt to outrun any predator, since they are found out on the open plains, where there is really nothing naturally occurring, which needs to be jumped!
While relatively rare, seeing both the eagle and the antelope were not new experiences for us. We enjoyed the sightings and I took these pictures, but what we had in store later was unforgettable.
Even seen a moose? They are enormous in size and largest of the deer family. Unlike deer, they exhibit little fear of humans. So, you want to be very careful around them. Fortunately, they just spend a lot of time eating water-based plants and mainly just want to be left alone.
Back on the dirt roads behind Medicine Bow Peak, we came around a bend in the road to be confronted with a very large cow moose. As fate would have it, even though we had hardly seen any other vehicles, a truck was coming in the opposite directions a second or two behind us.
Initially focusing on us, the moose was startled by the truck coming up behind it and instantly reacted by leaping into the forest off the side of the road. There was only one small problem. We were in a very steep, rugged canyon and not the gently sloping terrain on which these animals are normally seen.
Pulling up to the side of the road, my wife looked down an incredibly steep incline for a couple of hundred yards (~180 m). She said the cow moose was already all the way down and walking alongside the creek. How an animal that big, with it enormous hooves for wading around in shallow wetlands, made it down through all of that tree fall and rock, at that angle, is absolutely incredible.
While we have seen a number of moose in our lifetimes, we had never seen anything like the feat this one pulled off!
Ever seen a mountain lion? They are both rare and very elusive. Until this trip, I had only seen one in my life and that was way back in 1977 in a very remote part of the Mogollon Rim of Arizona, while spelunking with my best friend.
At my age, my eyesight is still quite good. Taught by my father to "keep an eye out" for movement, I still can see things others typically miss. On our first day on the way up into the high country, I noticed something crossing State Highway 130 near the Brush Creek Visitor Center. It moved so fast, by the time I saw and tried to focus on what it was, it was gone into the trees. Initially thinking it was a coyote, which is not all that uncommon, I knew that the tail was not right for that. As unbelievable as it seemed, I told my beloved that I thought I had just caught a glimpse of a mountain lion.
Given the few seconds it took us to get to drive up to where it had crossed the road, I had sinking hope that we would actually see it. It would be gone from sight. We were blessed, however, by the animal not being in a hurry, once across the road and
turning to look right at us, once we stopped beside the road! It was only for a second or so, but it was unmistakable and somewhat like this picture above, before taking off into the forest.
We are very unlikely to ever see one again. What a wonderful experience to share with my sweetheart on this trip, when we are celebrating 44 years of marriage!
This is the first travel post I have written on our Hive blockchain! I have enjoyed writing these types of posts in the past. Perhaps more than any of the others. They have normally been very well received. But ... I am not a traveler and there is not much to write about on the view from my "comfy chair!" 😉
So, I hope you have enjoyed another of my "road less traveled" posts, as you get to see corners of America that are not so well known. I think we can agree, though, they are still very beautiful.
My next post about this same trip, dear reader, will provide you a closer look at our time in the wonderful Spirit West River Lodge and the surrounding country. There was too much history there and things to share about the amazing hostess we had, to cover it all here.
I’d love to hear any feedback you may be inspired to provide.
Until "next time," all the best to you for a better tomorrow, as we all work together to build up our Hive Communities and add increasing value to our Hive blockchain! 👍 😊
🐝 🍯 🐝
P.S. Unless otherwise noted, all images are pictures taken by my smartphone - a Samsung Galaxy S9+.
Edit, 16 August 2020: The "companion" post to this one, i.e. the story of our time at Spirit West River Lodge, has now been written - Travelogue 7: Back in Time at Spirit West River Lodge.
🌲 No trees were harmed in the publishing of this post! 🌲
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