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Author Topic: STAR 2014 THE WYOMING ROUTES  (Read 2490 times)

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VersysRider

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STAR 2014 THE WYOMING ROUTES
« on: April 11, 2014, 05:25:40 PM »
Mark Willis | Wyoming

As STAR 2014 approaches I realize a number of you will be coming through Wyoming to get to the rally. So as the only club member in the state as of this writing, I thought perhaps I might suggest some routes, things to see, as well as places to stay and eat.

First, in general, if you are a stay at a hotel chain kind of person I recommend Hampton Inns throughout the state. All are at least fairly new, reasonably priced and offer a decent breakfast early. Another general tip is to be very careful riding at night in Wyoming. We have a lot of critters and many of them are of impressive size. Finally, be aware that in Wyoming summer is construction season and our winters make that work substantial in some places. I wish I could predict locations now, but that is beyond my vision today.

Without further ado, if you are coming through from the southwest there are two routes I recommend.  The first originates out of Evanston, WY and runs along Highway 89 skirting the Idaho boarder up to Jackson. This route runs through the Star Valley and is a very nice ride. Along the way if you have time stop at Afton (exit to the east) and ask a local to direct you to Intermittent Springs. It is not a well marked attraction and requires a short hike from the parking area. The spring is a natural cistern, that fills (timing varies with season and snow melt up stream), then explodes water out of a seemly solid rock surface emptying in moments.

Jackson, the Tetons and Yellowstone speak for themselves, but don’t miss going out to Teton Village and taking the lift up to the summit (jacket required generally all year) for one of the great views in the country. In Jackson it would be wise to reserve lodging early. For a reasonable rate and walking access to the downtown area, I recommend the Antlers Motel. I also recommend taking an extra day to do some rafting, though the pace will be fast this early in the summer along the rivers. Coming out of Yellowstone, I will cover later.

If you are a been there done that person as far as Jackson, the Tetons and Yellowstone go, you might want to enter the state via Highway 530 out of Utah and enjoy the ride through Flaming Gorge into the Green River/Rock Springs area (Hampton Inns in both, but the Green River site is on the Wild Horse Trail).

From there I suggest taking Highway 191 to the tiny town of Farson, where you will turn east or right on Highway 28 to Lander. However, before you do stop at the ice cream shop in Farson and have a treat (ask to see a single before ordering a double scoop). A short detour at Lander to Sinks Canyon is worth considering (Highway 131 south), where a river disappears into what seems to be solid rock and resurfaces about a quarter of a mile down the canyon. While in Lander the Rockfish and Middle Fork restaurants are both worth a stop.

From Lander you take Highway 789 (it has other names too) through Riverton and Shoshoni to Thermopolis. The last leg of this ride through the Wind River Canyon is a hoot. Thermopolis is the home of the largest mineral hot springs in the world and I highly recommend a good soak after a day’s ride. My choice for lodging there is the Best Western located on the park grounds. It is a former official building of some kind converted to a hotel. The hot tub here has its water piped in from the springs. Every room in the hotel is different and the park is great, with several bath houses to enjoy the mineral waters. Across the street is a Days Inn with a very interesting safari themed bar and restaurant.   

From this point, if you are coming through Cody from Yellowstone or from Thermopolis you have your choice of three great routes over the Big Horn Mountains. Take Highway 14, Alternate 14 or 16 and you can’t go wrong. Great mountain scenery and much less traffic than you see on other mountain roads of the west. 

On the other side of the mountain range you will come to either Sheridan or Buffalo, WY. Both are wonderful little towns and each worth a visit. Personally I already have a room reserved for the Thursday after the rally at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo. This is a historic hotel that has had everyone from the Sundance Kid to President Teddy Roosevelt stay over. The hotel’s bar hosts a Thursday night Blue Grass Jam that is worth the trip alone. Check out their web site to get a feel for the place.

From there it is a day ride to the rally via several routes through flatlands and the Black Hills, with a recommended stop off at Devils Tower (made famous in the Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

For those coming into the state from the southeast there are three very interesting non-interstate options coming in. If you chose to come into the state from a more western and a bit longer route via Highway 230W (turns into 130 north of Encampment, WY) you will want to stop in Saratoga and visit the hot springs there. The public springs are free and more than a little warm. They feel great if you take time to ease into them, but will make you think your life is changing in a very bad way if you just wade in as I did the first time there (the water comes out at around 119 degrees). I love the over 100 year old Wolf Hotel there and it has an outstanding restaurant. Some prefer the Saratoga Resort and Spa that has its own spring outlets coordinated at differing temperatures. Those who enjoy eclectic bars will want to check out the mounted lions in the Rustic Bar on Main Street.

From Saratoga one can head north, loop parallel to the interstate through Medicine Bow (visit the Virginian Hotel where the book of the same name was written), through Rock River, finally taking Highway 34 heading northeast to get closer to the more direct route getting off the interstate around Wheatland. Or one can back track a couple of miles and take Highway 130 to Laramie, the home of the University of Wyoming and a charming town in its own right. You can also come to Laramie from Colorado via Highway 230E or 287, which are both nice rides in their own right.

Out of Laramie one can take Interstate 80 East a few miles before exiting at the Lincoln Memorial and cruising into Cheyenne via Highway 210 or Happy Jack Road. Stop at the Bunkhouse Bar & Grill halfway between Laramie and Cheyenne for some great food, as well as real old school live country music on Friday and Saturday nights. People in this rural village actually still ride their horses up to the place for dinner and a drink. 

Cheyenne is the state capital and has its own great history to explore. At this time of year, if you are in town on a Friday I recommend stopping at the Depot Plaza downtown for the concert series. Bands vary from Celtic to Disco on any given Friday, but from 5:30 to 8:30 Friday evenings it is the place to be. The downtown has a number of good places to eat and drink. For ease of access the historic Plains Hotel is right in the center of the action if you are staying over.

Heading north from Cheyenne, if you chose to go through Chugwater you will want to stop at the Soda Shop downtown. The best shakes and malts since the 1950s, largely because the mixers they use are vintage from that era.

The north route has several stops worth visiting. My favorite is Register Cliff, where people along the Oregon Trail rested up in this nice little valley before pushing on and recorded their names on the cliff there. Traveler’s carvings date back to 1838 and perhaps earlier ones I have not found.  Devil’s Tower is also a good stop coming from this direction.

I do recommend the back roads over Interstate 25, though it is a very good road. The one exception to that is Highway 59 out of Douglas heading to Gillette, where there is an oil and gas drilling boom going on. We love the boom, but it can have a lot of truck traffic.

I hope this helps those traveling through our state with their planning. These are only a handful of the things worth seeing in Wyoming, so you may want to check the state’s tourism web site for more. I look forward to seeing you all in South Dakota and hope you enjoy a little of Wyoming as well. Ride safe! 

AnnRedner

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Re: STAR 2014 THE WYOMING ROUTES
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2014, 06:24:26 PM »
Thanks for the many tips, Mark Willis!!

Offline RIDEMYST

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Re: STAR 2014 THE WYOMING ROUTES
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2014, 07:58:29 AM »
Thanks for the info!
Looking forward to meeting you at STAR. -JEP-


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Offline stevegrab

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Re: STAR 2014 THE WYOMING ROUTES
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2014, 01:56:31 PM »
Reading that brought back some great memories of my post STAR trip in 2012 which included Flaming Gorge, Wind River Canyon and Jackson/Tetons/Yellowstone. My one recollection of riding in Wyoming is that outside of Yellowstone it was very hot, and a little more desolate than I expected.
Steve Grabowski - Northern OH Asst Director
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