Monday, September 26, 2011

Wyoming Camping Rocks!

Curt Gowdy State Park
We hitched up the Bambi, bound for a location twenty-four miles west of Cheyenne, WY, for possibly the last camping trip of the season.   The trip took us through quintessential Wyoming, with expansive skies and endless windswept plains that seemed to roll on forever.    Heading west at sunset, the sky began to burst with color, painting the clouds with every hue of red and orange imaginable. It reminded me that sometimes half the enjoyment of camping is the experience on the way to your destination.

Scenic Mountain Biking 
We were on our way to Curt Gowdy Sate Park for a weekend of mountain biking over the 30 miles of highly acclaimed new trail system.   We were not disappointed.   The park offers a wide variety of terrain from beginner to expert level and a diverse network of trails that parallels the shoreline of the Park's small reservoirs and rises through the forest for rough and tumble rides up steep inclines and along granite outcrops.  Adventure opportunities abound for cycling thrill seekers.

Happy Jack Wind Farm
After the first day's ride, a hot shower, and a hearty meal, we relaxed around the campfire.  I watched the reflection dancing on the side of the Airstream, and as I looked up into the unfathomably deep, inky sky, I was left with an impression that everything in Wyoming makes you feel small.   From the grandiose landscapes to the distance between towns, you are reminded what a tiny speck you are on this planet. Even the man-made structures you see from the highway, like a 890,000-square-foot Walmart distribution center or the colossal wind turbines at the Happy Jack Wind Farm seem to reinforce this idea.    When I stopped to take a picture of one of the turbines on the way home, I was close enough to hear the periodic whoosh of each giant white blade slowly sweep by like an enormous hand taking a clumsy swipe at a fly.    Wyoming has a way of making a person feel humble.
Arrg - just missed the deer photo

The Curt Gowdy State Park was fantastic destination for the Airstream.    Camping is available at many sites just a few feet from shoreline with scenic lake views.  The evening skies are packed with stars, and on this particular stay, we were treated to a silver crescent moon slowly crawling across the ebony sky, and the eerie cry of bugling elks across the water.   That was followed the next morning by the sight of deer silhouettes stepping lightly along the shoreline of the glassy lake just as the sky was beginning to show hints of orange and red on the distant horizon.  As morning progressed these colors seemed to stick to the leaves of some of the nearby bushes and trees as Autumn began to make its annual appearance.  Later, we watched ducks flying nearby and then splashing playfully in the water.   This is why I camp.

More photos here.

If you go:

Crystal Reservior
Curt Gowdy State Park is located 24 miles west of Cheyenne, WY, just off Happy Jack Road (WY highway 210).  The park has 145 total sites (35 reservable), but no shower facilities, nor electrical or water hookups.  However, water spigots are generally available around the park and pit toilets are located near the camp sites.  The park also offers a dump station near the park entrance.  Park activities include fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, archery, and of course, mountain biking.  Camping fees were $17/night for non-residents.