Traveling to Lander, WY

Lander, WY

Saturday morning dawned with bright sunshine lighting up the snow on the mountains overlooking Provo, UT.  We pulled out of Utah Lake State Park a bit after 9:00 heading north on I-15.  After just a few miles we exited the highway on to UT-52 and drove east for about 3.5 miles.  At that point UT-52 ends at the intersection with US-189.  We then headed north through the beautiful Provo Canyon and continued for 21 mile to Heber City.

Provo Canyon

Mountains along US-189

In Heber City we turned north (left) on to US-40 and continued for 18 miles to where it intersects with I-80.  We then headed east on I-80 into Wyoming.  It was about 150 miles on the interstate to Rock Springs, where we exited the highway on to US-191 north.

I-80 near Green River, WY

There is certainly a sharp contrast between driving on I-80, filled with truck traffic, and US-191.  Apparently not too many people were headed into central Wyoming on that day, as we saw very little traffic (or any other sign of life, for that matter except for cattle and pronghorn).

Traffic along US-191

After 40 miles we came to the tiny crossroads community of Farson, where we turned right (east) on to WY-28.  It was a 75 mile drive across the high prairie and over a high pass before descending into Lander, where we had a reservation at Sleeping Bear RV Park.  The first half of the drive on WY-28 was straight across open prairie, not too exciting.  But for the second half of the drive the road goes over South Pass (over 8,500 feet), where it is still winter!

We arrived at the Sleeping Bear RV park after a drive of over 300 miles (more than we like to do in a day) and settled into our site.  The park sits on a hill overlooking the town of Lander.  We pulled into our site nose first to give us a great view of the town and distant mountains.  The only down side is that the little dog area is right in front of us, allowing for a bit of foot travel around our site.  But the park isn’t that big so we think use of the area will be minimal.

View from the front seat of the motorhome

On our first day in Lander the weather report had the possibility of thunderstorms, so we didn’t want to stray too far from cover.  So we drove a few miles south of town for a visit to Sink Canyon State Park, one of the “must see” spots in the area.

The state park is named for a portion of the Popo Agie River where it flows into an underground limestone cavern, named the Sinks, and emerges a quarter-mile down the canyon in a pool named the Rise.   We began our tour at the small visitor center next to the Sinks.  From there you can walk a short distance to a point where you can see the water disappear, then take a short path down to the water.

The Popo Agie River just before the Sinks

The river heads into the Sinks

Just inside the alcove the water flows into a little pond and disappears.

During periods of heavy snow melt the volume of water in the river exceeds the capacity of the Sinks.  Water then overflows that spot and the excess spills over into a seasonal stream bed called the overflow channel.  The snow melt hasn’t begun in this area yet since it continues to snow even though it is the end of May.

The overflow channel

About a quarter mile down the canyon the river reappears in a large pool called the Rise.

The Rise

Note the water flowing out of the rocks

At one time no one was certain that the water emerging at the Rise was the same water disappearing at the Sinks.  But dye tests have shown that the water is the same and takes over two hours to make the 1/4 mile journey.  Geologists think that there are many winding underground passages the water has to work its way through before it bubbles back up at the Rise.  It is also likely the water underground mixes with water from other smaller sinks in the area, as the volume of water entering the Rise is greater than the volume entering the Sinks.

We then drove further up the canyon and came upon a series of rock walls high above us.

We were surprised at the number of vehicles parked along the road.  Where were all the people?  A closer look at the rock walls above us revealed a number of climbers hanging on ropes as they climbed the steep face of the walls.

The next two days have rain in the forecast so our outdoor adventures may be limited until later in the week.  But we always find something interesting to do to keep us busy.

More on that later . . .

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21 Responses to Traveling to Lander, WY

  1. Jeff Pierce says:

    Most interesting info on ‘The Sink’ and ‘The Rinse’, a lot of rivers form an aquifer but this seems to be a bit unique. A long drive today, stay safe and rested!

  2. This is the same route we took in 2015 from Provo to Lander except that the snow made your drive more picturesque. Isn’t that sink canyon interesting to learn about? Wyoming has some fascinating river phenomenon, this one that disappears and then reappears at another spot and the one we visited in Afton where the spring breaths.
    We love Wyoming, too bad the winters are really cold!

    • placestheygo says:

      I couldn’t get over how much higher the water was in your photo of the Sinks. We won’t be around to see the big melt and the full cave. Darn! There is so much hiking that is close to Lander. Too bad most of it is off dirt roads that are still closed.

  3. The Boulder River does this at Natural Bridge Falls–where we take all our guests! 🙂 Very interesting, we bypassed Lander on the way home, maybe in the fall.

  4. Looks very pretty around there…I hope there are plenty of low elevation hikes to keep you guys busy!

    • gt350ed says:

      We fell in love with Lander three years ago. Spent 4th of July there, sitting in our lawn chairs watching the parade on Main St. It was like going back in time. Since then, we have been hosting near the Tetons, up the mountain from Dubois, a neighboring town. We’re actually in the area now.

      • placestheygo says:

        This section of Wyoming is new territory for us. We thought we would avoid the Teton/Yellowstone crowds. So far this is a beautiful area. Enjoy your summer!

    • placestheygo says:

      Lisa, I can’t believe how many hiking trails there are close to Lander. The problem now is the rain and dirt roads. Most of the roads are still closed at this point since spring is just getting here. A reason to return one day.

  5. Gay says:

    I so love travel day pictures…these are beautiful! So glad you are in Lander…we have a stop planned there this summer. Sink Canyon SP is on the list of things to see.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Gay! This is a beautiful area. There are so many hiking trails near by and lots of Jeep roads. Too bad it was a snowy winter because most of the back roads are still closed. Lots of lakes near by, as well. You’ll enjoy it.

  6. Nancy says:

    Pretty interesting tidbits on The Sink and The Rise!

    Those snow covered mountains were a delight to the eye!

  7. Jim and Barb says:

    What an interesting river! We have had rain on and off for the last 3 days, it looks like tomorrow will be rain free!

  8. Laurel says:

    That is such a beautiful area. We want to go back to spend more time in Wyoming, so we’re counting on you guys to find all the good hikes! I always breathe a sigh of relief, too, when we get off of those highways with all of the crazy big trucks and onto a more peaceful stretch of road.

  9. Sue says:

    I love the picture of Provo Canyon and your description of finally getting off the interstates onto surface roads….ahhhhh.
    I don’t love, however, the gross “gut doctor” ads that seem to crop up between most of your beautiful pictures….ewwwww.
    Lander was never on our radar, as a matter of fact I had to look it up to see where it was. Now it seems to be a pretty interesting place to visit, perhaps a little later in the spring next time. Good idea to front in to your site, a peaceful vista through the windshield.

  10. jcgc50 says:

    We stayed at the campground in Sinks Canyon SP, a very pretty place with the sound of the rushing river. There was a lot more water in the river in July when we were there.
    We love that drive through Provo Canyon.

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