Sunday, 24 October 2021

F Find Your Adventure

Exploration Close to Home in Wyoming

Like most of the world, my husband and I changed the way we did a lot of things over the past year, including travel. We are fortunate to live in a state with a lot of open space and outdoor recreational opportunities, so we decided to take advantage of those assets and explore close to home.

Even though I grew up in Wyoming and thought I knew every nook and cranny of the state, when we started digging a little deeper, we found that we had barely scratched the surface. We began venturing out to places we hadn’t been to in decades and that could be visited in a day or overnight camp trip. With a new purpose and perspective, the familiar became new.

HS State Park Terrace1Obvious destinations in my local commuting area included Yellowstone National Park and Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). For much of my adult life, Yellowstone was just something I drove through on my way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and my experience with Big Horn Canyon had been limited to its reservoir for fishing or water skiing. However, taking different routes and hiking trails we had never been on in Yellowstone, turned a place taken for granted into a new adventure. Driving past Horseshoe Bend Marina in Big Horn Canyon NRA revealed a landscape filled with wildlife, dramatic views, and cultural and historic treasures. I’m planning a column on National Parks next month, so for now I’ll focus on sites of lesser fame, but of great value.

Wyoming is blessed with a diverse assortment of state-managed parks and sites.  Of the parks, most are reservoirs that offer opportunities to hike, fish, camp, and participate in other water sports. I’m familiar with most of these, however, a little online research and venturing out revealed sites that I hadn’t been to or had simply not thoroughly investigated.

Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming is known for swimming pools filled with mineral water and fun waterslides which are very popular with families. But a visit should also include a stroll along the boardwalk to view the hot mineral springs and the colorful terraces created by the water flowing from the springs into the Big Horn River below, a walk across the swinging suspension bridge, and a drive through the stunning red-dirt hills behind the park to check out the bison herd.

Sinks Canyon State Park outside Lander, Wyoming is home to a fascinating geological feature. The Popo Agie River disappears into a limestone cavern and reemerges a quarter mile down the canyon in a pool filled with rainbow trout. The Sinks Canyon area is also a spectacular place to camp, hike, bike, climb, fish, and enjoy nature.glyph12

Two of my favorite adventures, though, were visits to Legends Rock State Petroglyph Site and Medicine Lodge Archeological Site. At Legends Rock, more than 92 prehistoric petroglyph panels and over 300 petroglyphs cover a 1,000-foot-long near vertical cliff. This world-renowned petroglyph site is on the National Register of Historic Places. Medicine Lodge Archeological Site is a prehistoric Native American archeological site. The petroglyphs and pictographs cover the face of a 750-foot-long sandstone bluff. Both sites contain amazingly well-preserved rock art and are well worth the drive. I left both places in awe and a little more educated about the early inhabitants of my state.

For more information on these and other Wyoming state parks and sites visit https://wyoparks.wyo.gov/. And, be sure to check out the state-managed sites in your own state. There may be a new place to explore, an exciting adventure to experience, or a great family recreational opportunity waiting for you close to home.

   

Columnist: Kim McMahill

Picture Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. After living in eight different states and enjoying a rewarding career with the National Park Service, she has returned home to Wyoming to focus on her writing and spend more time with family. She has published ten novels, over eighty travel and human-interest articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. Find out more about Kim by visiting her blog and connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter @kimmcmahill

Fueling Wholesome Entertainment

TWJ Magazine is the premier publication for lovers of the written word.