**I got so busy having a good time on my trip, that I neglected to keep up with the blog while on my trip. I’ve finally decided to finish writing it all up.**
After spending two really restful nights in Colorado Springs, we woke up ready to hit the road. Carter really wanted to visit the Air Force Academy, so we decided to do that on our way north. It is always a great experience to visit one of our nation’s service academies.
After spending time at the Academy, we got in the car and headed toward Wyoming!! In keeping with our efforts to visit National Parks and National Monuments, I really wanted to visit Fort Laramie National Historic Site, however; they closed early that day, and we would not have been able to make it in time. Also, the boys were all asleep. We decided to just keep driving, since we had gotten kind of a slow start that morning.
Every other trip I have taken to Jackson, I’ve come in from the south. When planning this trip, knowing we would be driving, I did a brief search for the best combination of good roads/scenic byway from Cheyenne to Jackson. Several people recommended driving north out of Cheyenne, heading towards Caspar, going west from Caspar through the Wind River Reservation and into Jackson Hole from the East. As we headed north out of Cheyenne, I saw a turn off for “Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts.” We passed it, but then I asked Chas if we could turn around. What’s the point of a road trip if you can make unplanned stops? I was just curious – my mom has always really wanted to see Oregon trail wagon ruts. I’ve been ambivalent at best. I mean, it sounds interesting, but it just wasn’t that big of a deal for me. We turned around, went down state highway 26 and found a small state park that was right near the North Platte River and had some wagon ruts. It was a good time for the boys to get out and stretch their legs, so we decided to see what we could see.
We took a short walk (I want to say hike, but I don’t think this qualifies) to the area where there were supposed to be wagon ruts. I was expecting some divets in rock – instead we found this:
It was much more impactful than I had expected. According to the info at the site, the pioneers would literally dig these paths out of the ground/rock so that the wagons could move up on to these higher areas. We were basically in the middle of nowhere and you could really look around and think about it what it must have been like for people to travel this way so many years ago. I can only imagine. People were made of much tougher stuff back then.
After that, we got back into our air conditioned vehicle with bluetooth and leather seats and went to get back on the main highway. BUT THEN, we saw a sign for “Register Cliff.” What in the world is Register Cliff? Let’s ask Mr. Google! It turns out that Register Cliff is a sandstone cliff that rises over 100 feet above the nearby N. Platte River. It was a “key navigational landmark” prominently listed in 19th century guidebooks for the Oregon Trail. Pioneers would stop here and carve their names in the soft sandstone, often so that family members traveling after them would know when they had passed through the area.
Well, what the heck – unplanned stop #2 – Register Cliff! FYI – this is a SUPER easy one. You literally drive up the road, get out, and there it is.
These unplanned stops turned out to be just what we needed on this day, and everyone has fond memories of them – whether it was watching a bunny rabbit or staring at the N. Platte River, or marveling at the audacity of the pioneers who headed off into the unknown so long ago.
That night we slept happily in Casper, WY.