Wyoming History August 11, 2017
This Historic Backway In Wyoming Takes You To Unforgettable Places Off The Beaten Path
When looking to plot out a road trip, most people stick to the well-known highways and byways, but traveling along lesser-known backways can be like stumbling on hidden treasure.
One historic backway in southwestern Wyoming is a perfect example. Starting at the Sheep Capital of the World and ending up at one of the most gorgeous state parks in the Cowboy State, you’ll enjoy a rich sampling of history and breathtaking scenery as you drive along the 139 miles of this backway.
You could drive the entire route of this backway in under 3 hours, but there's so much to see, you'll want to plan at least one full day, maybe more.
The trip starts in Cokeville, a little town that's grossly underrated. Nestled in an abundantly fertile valley, it offers rangeland tailor made for livestock.
In the early 1900s, the ranchers here were massively successful, earning the area the status of being the Sheep Capital of the World. At the time, the city was estimated to have the most millionaires per capita than any other place on the planet. Cokeville got it's start and it's name, however, from the high-quality coal that was mined in the area.
The first stretch of the journey will take you along the historic Lincoln Highway. Named for the 16th President of the United States, it was one of the foremost highways in the country in its time.
Eventually, the route the Lincoln Highway takes through Wyoming was changed to I-80, but US-30 is still fondly known as the Old Lincoln Highway.
Make a stop at Fossil Butte on your way to Diamondville.
Diamondville, another quaint little Wyoming coal town that was named for the practically perfect coal that was mined in the area, is just 10 miles further down the road. It's a great place for a pitstop and meal break before tackling the rest of the trip.
At this national monument you can view one of the world's largest and best preserved deposits of freshwater fish fossils.
There are a variety of other fossils, too. The fossilized mammals, insects, birds, and reptiles found here are all extraordinarily well-preserved.
After leaving Diamondville, you'll head south down WY-412, which will take you to Fort Bridger. There, you can tour the historic military buildings restored from the time in the mid 1800s when the fort was first a trading post along the Oregon Trail, then a military outpost.
The next stop is at Muddy Creek, a famous spot where pioneers camped on their way west.
With an abundance of grass for the horses and cattle and water from the creek for everyone - apparently it was more drinkable than the name suggests - thousands of weary travelers stayed over before starting the next leg of their journey.
Further down the road, you'll come to Piedmont, one of Wyoming's best-known ghost towns. In addition to the bleak, dilapidated shacks that were once the town's buildings and homes, you can explore the abandoned charcoal kilns.
Originally, five kilns were built to supply charcoal for smelters in Utah. Today, only three of the kilns are still standing, sitting alongside the crumbling remains of the other two.
Less than 2 miles before you come to Evanston, stop and set up camp at Bear River State Park.
This is one of the parks that deserves more attention than it gets, with hiking trails, loads of bison and elk often grazing near the fenceline, and the tranquil Bear River running through it. Be sure to take a tour of the pioneer and wildlife exhibits at the visitor center.
What fascinating little backways have you discovered in Wyoming?
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