Today in our Summer Bucket List series, we take you to Bighorn Basin in Wyoming.
It’s a fact; money is tight. The days of the two-week family vacation, for most folks, has disappeared. Wouldn’t it be nice to find an interesting side trip that was free?
Well, the BLM’s Worland Field Office agrees.
There’s an area located 23 miles west of Highway 20 or 12 miles east of Highway 120 on state road 431 called the Gooseberry Badlands Scenic Interpretive Trail.
Fifty to 55 million years ago, this area was formed by ancient rivers in the Willwood Formation. These rivers deposited sandstone and mudstone which over time have been weathered and shaped into brightly colored layers resulting in hoodoos, pedestals and steep sided cliffs.
Enter the parking area on the north side of state Road 431 and park along the fence (the parking area is large enough for RVs). The path leads from the parking lot to the trailhead which includes a concrete, wheelchair accessible area approx. 200 feet long. The trail itself is not handicap-accessible and varies from smooth, loose gravel to steps, to rock. The trail is just over one mile long and will take from 30 minutes to an hour to travel.
Rock cairns and carsonite signs mark the trail and are numbered for points of interest. Catch the trail at sunrise and it erupts in a variety of colors ranging from reds to pink, greens to grey. It is an outdoor photographer’s dream.
The trail is home to both mammals and reptiles. A recent hike of the trail revealed elk, antelope, mule deer, coyote, fox and bobcat tracks. It is also home to rattlesnakes and small mammals like kangaroo rats, chipmunks and deer mice.
So, if your summer vacation takes you north to Cody or Yellowstone or you’re headed south to the Thermal baths in Thermopolis, allow enough time for a side trip to the Gooseberry Badlands. You won’t be disappointed!
For more information, visit http://on.doi.gov/12b2EFz
By Patrick Jones, BLM Worland Field Office Rec Tech