Sunday - Big Horn National (497 miles)
We started the day by having breakfast at the Pronghorn Motel restaurant.  We headed north on W789 toward Riverton.  The road was under construction so the start of the first day was not what we had hoped.  Once in Riverton we stayed on W789 on a northeasterly course toward Shoshoni.  Between the two towns the bicycle traffic picked up significantly, they were everywhere.  Shoshoni appeared to be the hub of this peculiar activity.  Shoshoni is on the south side of the arid Wind River Canyon.  Shoshoni appears to be one the many Wyoming ghost towns in the making.  The town had thrived during the boom of Uranium mining in the 70s & 80s but seems to have fallen on tough times since the price crash in the 90s.  We stayed on W789 toward the Owl Creek Mountains looming on the skyline.  After leaving town the road crosses arid grassland before coming upon the Boysen Reservoir.  The dam built in 1951 creates a 19,000-acre lake fed by the Wind River.  After about ten miles we entered the Wind River Canyon with cliffs rising abruptly and tower fangs of eroded white rock.  The road through the canyon shares itself with a rail line on the opposite side of the river.  There are three tunnels we passed through that were marked by dark-colored rocks.  At the first tunnel (KMZ) we passed the old dam quickly followed by the newer dam.  Once past the dam the road drops closer to the water’s edge.  Rock formations along the road are marked by signs stating their name and age.  We made our first stop at one of the numerous turnoffs overlooking the Wind River (KMZ).  Back on our steeds we headed toward the town of Thermopolis (KMZ) where the river unexplainably changes names to Big Horn River.  After another ten miles the canyon ends as quickly as it began as the river dumps itself into the Big Horn basin.  As we approached town we crossed the river and were into the town of Thermopolis.  The town is famous for its hot springs.  We stopped at an overlook to take a picture of the springs in Hot Springs State Park.  We stayed on W789 to Worland where we stopped to gas up (KMZ) and down some badly needed water as it had gotten fairly hot.  In Worland we picked up US16 east toward the town of Ten Sleep.  Ten Sleep lies in the lush valley bottom of the Big Horn Mountains surrounded by red rock bluffs on the western edge of the Big Horn Mountains, and is the beginning of the Cloud Peak Skyway.  The road begins a climb up Ten Sleep Canyon (KMZ), a broad farming valley at first with green cottonwoods and willows.  Shortly after we passed through the farmland the valley narrows into a canyon with red and white sandstone cliffs.  The canyon walls get gradually higher with cliffs formed of white and gray limestone and dolomite.  After about twenty miles we entered the Big Horn National Forest.  The road through the canyon and the forest is chocked full of switchbacks and twisties.  There was a moderate amount of traffic but we had no problem getting around it.  We stopped for a break just as we entered the Big Horn National Forest.  We passed Meadowlark Lake on our right in a valley below the road.  The road continues to climb above the lake up to the Powder River Pass where the forest opens up into broad open grassy alpine meadows.  After Powder River Pass it was all downhill into the town of Buffalo.  Buffalo was the focal point of the Johnson County War.  This war was fought between sheepherders and cattle ranchers.  The cattle ranchers were the aggressors and nothing much happened to the small band of invaders that were captured and sent to prison.  They spent little time in the pen and quickly fled back to Texas from where they came.  Once through Buffalo we jumped on I-90 north toward Sheridan.  We stopped at Lake De Smet to gas up before continuing on (KMZ).  We exited the interstate north of town near the Conner Battlefield Site and caught US 14 east.  We stopped near Fallen City at a place known as Buffalo Tongue.  The Indians of the area named this area after the rough rock formation in the area that resembled a Buffalo’s tongue (KMZ).  We thought this was a bit of a stretch but we haven’t seen many Buffalo tongues.  Before Buffalo Tongue we passed through the town of Dayton.  Dayton lies at the eastern edge of the Big Horn Mountains in the lush floodplain of the Tongue River.  The Indians and the US Army hotly contested this area in the 1860s.  The mountains loom in the distance as a towering wall over which it would seem impossible to build a highway.  The road initially follows the Tongue River upstream, but soon climbs out of the river valley to the south.  The road climbs gradually but quickly begins in earnest and many switchbacks are encountered.  An overlook just beyond our stopping point at Buffalo Tongue overlooks Fallen City; a field of huge blocks of Madison Limestone that have broken loose and slid down tilted rock layers underneath.  After the overlook the road turns away from the vast Powder River Valley and follows a canyon up to the crest of the mountains.  About 20 miles beyond Dayton the road continues through meadows and thick pine forests.  We stayed on US14 where US14A turns off to run Medicine Wheel Passage.  We crossed over the 9,000 ft. Granite Pass descending down into shell canyon.  We stopped at Shell Canyon Falls to view the 120 ft. drop on Brindle Creek (KMZ).  After Shell Falls we stayed on US14 down to the town of Greybull.  There we got back on W789 down to Worland and retraced our steps from the morning stopping at the old dam site on the Wind River just south of the tunnels.  To avoid the construction on WY789 we turned north on US26 and then south on WY132 at Kinnear.  This route was not really a shortcut but one worth taking.  We went though the town of Ethete and caught US287 back into Lander.  That night we ate at the Lander Bar where we met some other local riders and discussed some alternate routes that only the locals know.
Sunday - Big Horn National