When the first encounter with a US State you have never been to is cycling through two National Parks, the rest can only be a disappointment, right?
This is what, in a way, happened to me, cycling through Wyoming. Despite the bad visibility due to wildfires burning in Idaho, riding a bicycle through Yellowstone and Grand Teton was very much a memorable experience. Very shortly after leaving the park boundary behind and making it across Togwotee Pass at 9,584 feet, the greens gave way to yellows and light browns. The further south Peter, Jim and I went, the more barren and, seemingly, void of life our surroundings got. The lingering wildfire smoke only added further to that. It got especially depressing crossing the Wind River Indian Reservation with emptiness all the way to the horizon in all directions, not a single settlement in sight.
Lander thankfully provided a bit of a break from that, primarily because we were able to take a rest day with the parents of one of Peter’s friends and got treated to plenty of food, two great nights of sleep and even a walk with their four goats on John and Jill’s property about seven miles out of town.
Leaving Lander it was, however, back to The Big Empty, passing through small hamlets like Sweetwater Station and staying the night in a church in Jeffrey City, a former boomtown while uranium was mined here.
Rawlins, with around 9,200 people, was the biggest town along the route and, simply because of that, reason to get excited about it. The unwillingness of local authorities to let cyclists camp in one of the state parks (like so many other communities do) and the douchebaginess of the KOA campground owners which we stayed at eventually left a bit of a bad aftertaste.
Heading south from Rawlins, the mountain ranges started to slowly build up left and right, a clear indication of what was about to come next: Colorado.