Scenic USA - Wyoming
|Photos by Mark Nielsen
Mark's Independence Rock WS
Only a few small towns dot the map in south-central Wyoming along Interstate 80 between Rawlins and Rock Springs. Just to the north lies a huge desert area, accessed only by secondary roads. Called the Great Divide Basin, this high desert area and badlands goes unnoticed by most interstate travelers, and remains almost totally unknown to the rest of America. With its most fitting name, the Great Divide Basin actually splits the Western Continental Divide as it forms a ring and passes on both sides of these multi-colored badlands.
Controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, this immense area of remote wilderness area (a wilderness study area) remains nearly unprotected. This view of Honeycomb Buttes shows one of the many landmarks found throughout the basin. A list of colorfully named landforms, such as The Big Empty, Harris Slough, Sweetwater Canyon and Buffalo Gulch, are found throughout the Red Desert. The basin is interwoven with a half dozen secondary roads which provide access to this remote wonderland. Here in this vast wilderness it's not uncommon to see herds of pronghorn, desert elk and mule deer. Lucky back-country travelers may see also wild horses, the swift fox, prairie falcon, golden eagle and perhaps a rare glimpse of a mountain lion.
With its extensive collection of rare plants and federally threatened and endangered species, many environmental groups would be very pleased to see the WSA protected with a wilderness designation. But the discovery of huge deposits of shale oil and a big thirst for petroleum products, hopes seem already challenged.
Just west of South Pass on Route 28, Oregon Buttes Road leads to the Honeycomb Buttes. Here along the rim of the Great Basin Divide, summit views from the Honeycomb Buttes offer views of the surrounding Oregon Buttes, Antelope Hills, the Boar's Tusk, Killpecker Dunes and the Green Mountains. On a note of caution, these backcountry roads become near impassable when wet. Extra water and supplies are highly recommended.
Nearby Points of Interest
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