Devil's Tower was something we weren't initially going to drive by, but when it popped up out of nowhere in the NE corner of WY, we had to investigate. The wildfires out West made our first views very hazy:
Scientists aren't exactly sure how it was formed, but in general, they think there was an enormous up-welling of magma, followed by millions of years of erosion of the land around it. For those old enough to remember, this monument played a central role in the movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
It was super cool to see up close, as well as from different angles as we hiked all the way around it.
As we left, the red sandstone bluffs provided a nice contrast:
We drove across northern WY, passing some majestic cuts against a big sky.
We were headed for the appropriately named town of Thermopolis. Hot Springs State Park was nearby. Ten acres of land surrounding the spring was bought from the Wind River Indian Reservation in 1896. The tribal contract stipulated that locals could always soak free, and that still holds true today. Anyone can soak (with a 20 minute time limit) in the sulfuric smelling waters, so of course, we had to try them. Quite soothing, and you quickly got used to the stink. The soaking was done in the bath house, at 104 degrees, while the water emanating from the spring is at 135 degrees!
There were mats of bacteria growing in the mineral rich waters, that mimicked underwater grasses. The large bubble in the lower corner of the picture was the spring releasing sulfur dioxide:
As the water spilled out of the spring and over the landscape, it formed travertine terraces that were quite extensive:
FINALLY! Big sky country!
At the SW corner of the state, where it meets Utah, is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
The dam across the Green River created this gorgeous lake.
Next up is Idaho, where we met a herd of these gals (bighorn sheep) in a campground, and they seemed to like to have their pictures taken.
A sheep-butt goodbye!