Nature August 25, 2021
Thunder Basin National Grassland Is A Colorful Oasis In The Heart Of Wyoming
There are few spots in Wyoming where you can see for miles
and not see any mountains at all. Thunder Basin National Grassland – just outside of Wyoming’s Black Hills – is one such spot. If you’re looking to find a lively and colorful oasis that flies under the radar, plan a road trip to see this beautiful preserve that’s tucked away in the Cowboy State.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
The Grassland preserve is located in the Powder River Basin, between the Big Horn Mountains and Black Hills. It's a relatively flat area that's packed with plant and animal life.
Driving into the Powder River Basin will make you think you're not even in Wyoming. It feels more like Kansas or Nebraska - surely, this isn't our state that's known for desert sagebrush and towering peaks!
There's a chance you've driven through Thunder Basin National Grassland in the past without even realizing it.
If you've ever driven from Gillette to Douglas, or taken the back roads from New Castle to Casper, chances are you've noticed the unique scenery.
Antelope and prairie dogs call the grassland home, and you've got a great chance of seeing both on any trek through the area. There are hiking trails, picnic spots, and turnouts where you can park and gaze into the flatlands until you see it all come to life.
There are more than 100 species of birds living here, along with foxes, coyote, mule deer, and most likely even jackalope - considering that Douglas is the jackalope capital of the world. Bring your binoculars or spotting scope and see how many critters you can spot!
The topography here is particularly unique. It's known as a "ecotone," or transition zone, between the Great Plains and the sagebrush-covered steppe that we're more familiar with.
While you won't find any developed campgrounds where you can spend the night, if you're comfortable with dispersed camping, you can certainly pitch a tent. The landscape and weather make it great for overlanding - just watch out for that Wyoming wind!
The vast skies of Thunder Basin National Grassland make it a truly unusual spot that's far too often overlooked. Take some time to get out to this lively and colorful land and you'll find yourself driving away with a newfound appreciation for Wyoming's ecological diversity.
For more information about the Thunder Basin National Grassland,
visit the Forest Service website for the preserve right here. Address: Thunder Basin National Grassland, Wyoming 83414, USA