Leaving Cody, heading toward California, we went to Thermopolis, WY, a town of 3,000 people, and several features to keep us busy for a couple of days. Thermopolis, which is Greek for “Hot City,” has the world’s largest mineral hot springs in the city’s Hot Springs State Park. The swimming pool is warm water from the springs and the Tepee Fountain vents steam from the springs; as the water flows over the fountain, it deposits layers of travertine.
A local hunter owns one of the hotels in town and has decorated the restaurant, known as the Safari Room, with heads of some 200+ animals he had mounted. Notice in the picture below the two pronghorns mounted with their horns still locked together.
Perhaps the most beautiful scenery in the area is the Wind River Canyon with the Wind River running through it. Note pictures of the tunnels cut through the rock mountain on both sides of the river one for automobiles, the other for trains.
Our next layover was Rock Springs, WY, a much larger city, where we visited Flaming Gorge enjoying the beautiful colors in the rock and the flora; a beautiful drive. And, we got up early one morning to drive the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Loop, 24 miles of gravel road running mostly through desert, then mountains, and suddenly dropping us out in the city of Green River. We did find the wild horses, some deer, and the beautiful Pilot Butte.
We now enter the state of Utah, driving to Salt Lake City, a beautiful city that we toured by car, driving up to the State Capitol Building, enjoying the churches and other buildings. We took a wrong turn and came to an area where community services are offered and the bus station is nearby. We were a bit shocked as we saw the underbelly of the city; a large number of homeless people living on the street, many of them young.
Driving out of Salt Lake, heading for West Wendover, NV, we passed by the Great Salt Lake and suddenly it seemed we were on another planet. Don said he felt he was driving on the moon. We were on Interstate 80 which is four lane with a large median in the middle and everything, as far as we could see, was white. It took us a while to figure out we were driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats which extended for 100 miles.
You may have heard of the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway where cars have been driven 600 MPH! We spent lots of time studying the salt flats, visiting the speedway area, and taking pictures of this beautiful and unusual natural phenomenon. Due to over harvesting the salt, the auto races have been cancelled for the last two years. I am so glad we had the opportunity to see the flats, so unlike anything we have seen before. Almost nothing exists in the 100 miles except for a Morton Salt Plant, and the Utah Tree installed by an artist who thought the area needed a tree. There is very little plant life, no birds, nothing but salt. The entire 100 miles was Lake Bonneville thousands of years ago, now the only lake is The Great Salt Lake, all the rest is salt flats.
We spent several days in West Wendover, NV, an interesting very small town. It lies just across the state line of Utah and NV. On the NV side of the line is West Wendover, and Wendover is on the Utah side. The town of about 4000, has 5 huge casinos with some 2000 rooms! We noticed lots of cars with Utah licenses in the casino parking lots.
In the small town, there is a place up on a hill where you can go see the Interstate going through the Salt Flats. The Interstate was installed on perfectly flat land, but you can see that it curves. What you are seeing is the curvature of the earth!! You can see this in the picture below.
The terrain in these western states is so different from the east coast. Mostly it is desert covered with sage brush and other plants, some yellow, red, and various shades of green; so there is color. There are very few trees, most of them planted by man. The trees that do grow are pine trees of various sorts and not particularly attractive.
Interesting fact: The Federal Government owns 81% of Nevada, most of which is desert.
There are dinosaur museums in most of the towns.
Trains are plentiful in the area and go on for miles it seems. The cars haul out oil, coal, iron ore, and manufactured products. And snow fences are everywhere. We don’t plan to see how effective they are.
Rain is very scarce. It has rained only a couple of times since we have been here; they only get 5 – 8 inches of precipitation a year in these states. Most of the landscaping is hardscape – rocks and gravel. There are lots of dirt roads so lots of dust.
We have seen many areas where stock is allowed to roam free. Because of this and the many wild animals roaming fee, there are cattle guards at the entrances to the interstate to keep the animals off.
The scenery everywhere is awesome.