GET OUT: Riverton rocks!
JACKSON, WYO -OK, this isn’t the most exciting excursion in the world but it’s a great cure for winter blues and a chance to do a little target practicing – redneck style. Whenever the snow starts getting too deep to snowshoe effectively and I’m feeling a bit skied out, I like to head over to Riverton and pack the hiking boots instead of the Sorrels.
One of the things I like doing is Geocaching. It lends a purpose to potential meandering and gives me a reason to pack along a gizmo like a GPS. I like to knock around in an area informally known to locals as Devil’s Pit. On the map you will find this sandstone patch north of Riverton and just south of Missouri Valley Road. In fact, look at it on Google Earth and it will stand out as an unappealing scrub grey strip between two irrigated green splotches.
At first glance the region doesn’t look like much. Locals take their ATVs, jeeps, dune buggies, and lifted trucks here for some dusty hill climbing. It would be difficult to find even one environmentalist who wanted to protect this land from the incessant four-wheeling. But there are some unique features and interesting things to find in here including petrified wood and rainbow agates for you rockhounders.
You will have to deal with lots of broken glass and rusted out relics of old autos and household appliances. This place has long been a dumping ground for the lazy (the municipal dump offers free drop off). There is also glass everywhere so everything that glitters is not gemstone.
One of the coolest things I’ve encountered in here are petrified logs sticking out of a huge chunk of sandstone. At least, I am calling them petrified logs. They are rock hard and jutting out of the stone. I don’t know what else they could be.
Numerous hoodoo type formations abound. I was tracking a geocache one sunny winter day with temps hovering around 55 degrees. It was glorious. I finally found the green ammo box underneath a large hunk of shale that looked like it would be a good place for a rattler to be cooling off. On that note, beware; this area will have some rattlesnakes. Don’t just reach blindly into shadowy spaces.
On the rails
Another cool thing to do in Riverton is to walk or bike the Wyoming Heritage Rails to Trails pathway. The old Chicago and North Western line has been repurposed as a unique 21-mile backway path connecting Riverton to Shoshone via crapped out sidings like Laird, Delfelder, and Neble. The latter part of the trail traverses just east of Boysen Reservoir. I’ve never gone that far.
I usually start this trek at Black Bridge off Bee Road. Black Bridge, by the way, is a popular place to jump from for you cliff divers. I traversed the “rails” to near Neble, where the Wind River takes a big bend and the trail breaks off and is washed away. I then backtrack to Black Bridge via the south river bank. It’s about a 6.5-mile loop and a fascinating jaunt.