first days end, we wound up at the Haystack Reservoir campground in Oregon. This was a delightful local park
where we took a pleasant hike to the rivers mouth that feeds the lake. This
makes for a nice 7 or so hour trip from the bay area for campers. The next day
we spotted the small interesting looking town of Shaniko, where we spent an intriguing half
hour exploring this old nearly abandoned town before it revitalized itself as a
mecca for summer holiday revilers.
been to Spokane for years, but their Riverfront Park is now apparently fully developed. You
can easily spend an hour mesmerized by the volume of water that flowed under
the bridges and over the dams, especially in spring or early summer.
The Post Falls in Idaho was another such gem, smaller, yet
Cataldo on Hwy 90 was a little decaying
mission until rescued and turned into a small but bucolic little park. Our next
destination was Wallace. We knew it was noted as a historic town, but were
un prepared for the wealth of historical buildings, museums and interesting
shops. Best of all, it had a campsite within a block of the downtown. We set up
camp and then leisurely toured the town. The following day we hike the lush Pulaski wooded trail and afterwards took a
delightful little mine tour, all within a mile of Wallace. The Lewis and Clark Caverns
about 20 miles west of Three Fork are well worth the money if you're in the
surprise was the Old Prison and car museum in Deer Lodge Montana. We
were captivated for over an hour looking over all those forgotten vehicles that
ranged from electric cars to trailers.
Next was the ghost mining town of Bannack set in prairie
isolation about 70 miles south of Butte, Mt. where we camped close to a small
meandering river surrounded by cottonwoods. The following day we spent the
better part of the morning exploring Bannack and it's dozens of preserved
buildings catching a glimpse of mining town life 150 years ago. It was
fascinating in it's eerie silence as we practically had the town to ourselves.
The ghost town of Nevada City about 50 miles away was smaller, right
along the highway, and more commercialized, but was still worth a half hours
stroll through. Virginia City was the third noted ghost town in this area and perhaps the
most popular. While it was an interesting two block town, you can immediately
see the effects the Chamber of Commerce (and perhaps even Disneyland) had on it's revitalization. We
took a quick half hour tour of this over commercialized town and headed
While Bighorn National Monument can't boast any architectural
edifices, it's story is fascinating. The museum and drive posts the
chronological events of this pivotal moment in history. Poor Custers life was lost to a tactical
mistake. And the poor Indians were just trying to defend their home land
against the onslaught of immigrants.
We had a
delightful little tour of the Trails End Mansion in Sheridan, Wy. We were hoping to see an open
pit mine near Gillette, but neither time or weather
cooperated. Our first glimpse of Devils Tower was in the rain through fogged
windshields. As it was near 5, we headed for another cottonwood riparian
campground next to the tower. The 1.3 mile trail around the tower was so
fascinating that we opted for the 3 mile perimeter trail. Big mistake. It was
muddy, much had recently burned, that which hadn't was scrubby, and half way
round it started to pour. Oh well. The
115 year old historic little general store at Allidin was a kick being
charmingly filled with junktiques and groceries. It and much of the town is for
sale if you want to buy a part of history. Walls Drug was a carnival
filled with kitch and people if you like that sort of thing. The South Dakota
Badlands are definitely worth a visit. Curious mudstone formations isolated
from everything else seems like it would be more at home in Utah. They had several nice trails, many
of them board walked. Mt. Rushmore was another zoo. The site itself
was tastefully presented and designed to rush hoards through which you'll find even
in off season and inclement weather. The small town of Keystone next to it designed to host the
hoards could be mistaken for Las Vegas. We took a short drive through the Custer State Park and it was pretty. This may be
worth exploring more, but unfortunately we were running out of time. We understand the Wind Cave NP and Jewel
Cave NM in this area are also good but we were caved out after Lewis and Clark.
enjoyed the low key Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie. They let us out after only a few
days due to good behavior with only a small fine (entrance fee). Not only was
prison life interesting (from a visitors point of view at least), but the
grounds had lots of small historical cottages with furnishings to see life as
it was early last century
east on 80 to Green
then down the supposedly scenic route along the Flaming Gorge. Unfortunately it
wound up looking more like a brown prairie depression than a flaming gorge.
Towards the end in Utah it began to live up to it's name though. We also had
reservations about Dinosaur National Monument, but it exceeded our expectations.
They had a very modern glass and steel building covering a whole hillside of
partially excavated dinosaur bones, many of which you were encouraged to touch.
After that we took the Fossil Trail in beautiful 70 degree sunny weather (you
may not be so lucky) among colorful desert formations and wildflowers. On
another whim we drove to Josie Morris Ranch. This lady divorced her
husband after her children were grown, moved out to this isolated desert canyon
and spent the next 50 years there by herself running a successful ranch. What
an amazing place! Her cabin wasn't much, but the ranch was set in a fertile
valley of perhaps a few hundred acres at
the end of a box canyon. She had year round water that supported trees,
grasses, and rich enough soil for gardening and grazing. We took a hike up the
first box canyon and it was like being in Bryce. The second canyon a mile away was
even more spectacular with wildflowers and trees lining the bottom of an immense
mile long slot canyon. Unfortunately we only had time to go in a little ways.
visited Great Basin Nv. again, but while the hike was alpine and scenic, we
were a bit jaded just having come from Dinosaur. We expected the worst coming
home at the end of Memorial Day and got it, with 20 mile backups from
accidents... mostly from people not slowing down in the rain.
had a great time, but won't be going back to Wyoming or the Dakotas. We've seen most of what interested
us, and there are too many other places in the world yet to be explored.
will go back to is Dinosaur NM, but the eastern side along the Green River. We understand that area is
fascinating and will combine it with more of the unexplored Southwest on our
next camping trip.