From Wheatland I headed to Casper, stopping in Douglas for lunch. They have a city park with overnight RV parking allowed on the banks of the North Platte River. It was too early to stop for the day so I kept on to Casper. The highway in central Wyoming is really boring, about like driving through west Texas. But, I had “This American Life” podcasts on my Ipod playing through my new dash radio. So, it wasn’t a bad drive. I planned to go to Stalkups RV in Casper for some parts, then go up to a county park on Casper Mountain where it would be cool. I’d rather be at elevation with windows open than parked cheek-by-jowls in a commercial RV park in town with A/C running. Personal preference. The drive up the mountain was steep and windy, but eventually I was up there driving through the campground looking for a suitable site. There really weren’t many folks there. I saw just one RV and a few cars parked with guys just sitting in them. Most of the sites were small and unlevel. It just seemed creepy, so I decided to go back down the mountain and find someplace else to stay. I tried not to think of how many gallons of gas I just wasted going up, then down the mountain. I did need to go by Walmart, so I just decided to stay there overnight. RVers stay at Walmarts all the time, but I hadn’t yet. It was a little noisy, but fine.
The next morning I got my oil changed, then stopped for gas and propane on the way out of town, heading to Thermopolis. There is a state park there with hot springs. Supposed to be good soaking, and I had never had a dip in hot springs. The propane guy gave me the name of an RV park with their own hot springs pool. Seemed like a good place to stay. I would need electric hookups for A/C and needed to do laundry. When I got there I checked in and parked. If I had paid attention I would have noticed it didn’t look like a nice place. It wasn’t well kept up, and the laundry room hadn’t been cleaned recently. I need to remember to drive through and inspect before setting on an RV park. Oh well, I did get my laundry done, and had a soak or 2.
The drive to and from Thermopolis is through the Wind River Canyon. It’s a really nice drive, and I wished I wasn’t driving so I could have enjoyed it more.
From there it was on to Dubois and then Brooks Lake Campground. Brooks Lake was a location I saw RVSue visit a few months before. I remember showing Sue’s posts/pictures to my folks on my Ipad, saying I wanted to visit a pretty place like that on my travels. Since it was on the way to Yellowstone/Tetons I would have the chance. The road to Dubois runs along the Wind River and there was interesting rock formations, too. At one point we had to stop for a cattle round up crossing the road. As we passed I noticed they were cowGIRLS herding the cattle. Giddy-up!! I stopped at the visitor center in town and the Shoshone Forest office to get info on the forest and fires in the area. (There were a couple of fires, but not where I would be going.) Forest road 515 gains about 2,000 feet elevation to 9,200 feet, and is about 5 miles of washboard road. I really did not enjoy the road to the campground. But, when I got up there it was really pretty and worth the drive. The good sites in the main loop by the lake were taken so I drove up a small hill on a spur where there were 3 more sites. They had recently cut down dead or dying trees and left the wood for campers to use. There was a nice stack of wood at my site!
On one side of the lake was The Pinnacles and the other side had the Breccia Cliffs. There was a fire past the lake and the smoke makes interesting sunset color on the Pinnacles. There was also a trail leading from the lake that is part of the Continental Divide Trail.
I got to talking to the Richard, the Camphost. He said there was a trail branching off that went to Jade Lake, a really beautiful lake. He had seen a bear in the area, so lent me his bear spray for the hike Riley and I would take the next day. It was a pretty hike, longer than I thought, and when I got to the lake I was really disappointed. It seemed really small and unimpressive. But the sign said Jade Lakes, so maybe there would be another if I kept walking. After a bit more walking there was still no 2nd lake. Some folks came walking along and said yes, it was just a little way further. It was truly a storybook looking lake, so I’m glad we kept walking.
We stayed 3 nights. On the last night some women pulled up to the site next to me, several women, several trucks. Turns out they were having a bachelorette party for their friend that works at the fancy lodge/dude ranch next door. I had seen a cowgirl herding some horses on the trail a day or 2 before, and she was the guest of honor. It seemed quite ‘Wyoming’ to have a campout bachelorette party.
The next day was Saturday, September 1st, time to head out to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. I would take highway 26 over the Continental Divide at Togwotee Pass, through Moran Junction and then to Jackson, as I needed gas and groceries. Then we would visit Tetons, getting to Yellowstone after Labor Day (when hopefully the crowds would be smaller).