For today’s A to Z Challenge, W is for Wyoming. Wyoming is a semi-arid state which is usually dry, and primarily receives precipitation in the form of snow, which can close down roads in the winter. Wyoming is the least populous US state, with plenty of wide open spaces perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
The state consists of many geologic basins (low spots), which formed in between mountain ranges (high spots) due to tectonic plate movement during the Cretaceous through Eocene periods. This is called the Laramide orogeny, or mountain-building episode, and this is what formed the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada. This also means breathtaking views from mountains across the expanse of the basins.
Wyoming has no shortage of wildlife adapted to the dry summers and harsh winters, including bighorn sheep, pronghorn, elk, wild mustangs, and rattlesnakes. There are also not-so-wild animals, such as cattle.
The dry climate of Wyoming, the lack of vegetation, as well as the age of rocks exposed makes it the perfect place to find fossils. Fossil dinosaur bones, fish graveyards in old lake beds, and preserved three-toed dinosaur tracks can be found across the state.
The Native American tribes that call Wyoming home also have left their mark. For an estimated 700 years, Native American tribes have traveled to the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in what is now the Bighorn National Forest to offer prayers and perform ceremonies. The Medicine Wheel sits at 10,000 ft elevation and is made from rocks gathered around the area to form a wheel shape. The central cairn is attached to 28 spokes, and the entire wheel is 80 ft diameter and 245 ft circumference. Strips of colorful cloth, dream catchers, bells, medicine bags, and other objects are tied to the outer fence or placed inside the wheel as prayer offerings.
Devil’s Overlook offers a stunning view of the Bighorn Canyon and the Bighorn River that cuts through it. The scale of the canyon is amazing!
Sinks Canyon in the Wind River Basin is an interesting geological feature. The river rushes into the Sink (pictured above) and disappears into the rocks and travels underground. Hours later, and with less volume than went underground, the water reappears in the Rise that is only 1/3 mile down the road. The fish love the Rise (below).
As you can see, Wyoming is an outdoorsman’s paradise, with wildlife, natural beauty, and amazing geology. The winters are harsh, but in the short summer season the landscape comes to life.
Have you ever visited Wyoming? Where would you recommend for sightseeing? Let me know in the comments!