Sunday, May 24, 2015

Devil's Gate and Independence Rock

Location: Rawlins KOA (el 6,750 ft); Rawlins, Wyoming

(click pictures to enlarge)
(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)

I'm hunkered down in Rawlins, Wyoming for the holidays. Campsites are scarce during the major holidays so I made reservations about a week ago. Rawlins is located in the south-central part of Wyoming just off of I-80. The weather forecast for Yellowstone is looking good for the next two to three weeks so I've decided to head that way. I should be there in about 3 to 4 days. 

It was raining when I left Loveland and I drove through it most of the way here. The forecast has a potential for rain almost every day that I'll be here but I got lucky yesterday morning with some good weather. I had hoped for good enough weather to see a couple places north of here. 

The first was Independence Rock. It is a large rounded granite outcropping and is a famous and prominent landmark around here. The Oregon, California and Mormon Trails overlap around here as they converge on the South Pass through the Continental Divide. During a 25 year period between 1844 and 1869, more than 500,000 people passed through this area on their way west. Most of the emigrants would leave Missouri and head up the Missouri River to either Independence, Missouri or Omaha, Nebraska where they struck out to the west along the North Platte River. Most couldn't afford passage on a boat so they walked, using the rivers as a guide. The North Platte River took them across Nebraska and into Wyoming. Around Casper, Wyoming they left the river and began their overland route. The first landmark they used as a guide was Independence Rock which they could see for a couple of days before reaching it. It was common for the emigrants to camp around the rock and some scratched their names and dates into it. Some of those are still visible today. I wonder if the writer of the old movie Red Dawn got the idea about the kids scratching the names of their dead into Patriot Rock from what the emigrants did at Independence Rock.

After passing Independence Rock, the emigrants looked for Devil's Gate which is a very visible opening in the rocky cliffs. The Sweetwater River flows through the gate so it was impassable to travelers. Instead, people would pass through Rattlesnake Pass, located just to south of the gate. Once they went through the pass they were greeted by the wide open Sweetwater Valley which has the Sweetwater River meandering through it. They would follow this river towards the South Pass. 

The Mormons have a very nice museum with well-informed tour guides located at the gate. It is to commemorate a group a Mormons who took refuge from the weather in a cove near the gate. They arrived to late in the year and was stranded by winter weather for which they weren't prepared. A group was sent out of Salt Lake City in time to rescue the group. It is a nice place to visit with lots of friendly people.

I ate my lunch a little past noon and watched the storm clouds roll in across the valley. I ended up driving through rain and graupel on the way back to Rawlins. Graupel is a term I learned in Oregon and is sometimes called "soft hail". I've run across it several times since Oregon so it is more common than I thought.

I'll pull out of here Tuesday morning and head west for a couple hundred miles before stopping for a couple days along Bear Lake. The lake sits on the border of Utah and Idaho and is supposed to be a very pretty blue. I'll compare it to Lake Huron and Crater Lake. 
One of the rest areas between
Loveland and Rawlins. Storms everywhere

The weather cleared long enough to
set up camp.

Notice my next door neighbor by the
electrical pedestal. A little prairie dog
that has a couple of holes nearby.

Wide view of the campground showing
the country-side.

On the way to explore the north. The
puffy clouds and bright blue sky was

The Sweetwater Valley. It was a "wow" moment at first sight

Running parallel with the mountains

Devil's Gate is that notch in the

Devil's Gate on the left and Rattlesnake
Pass straight ahead

Typical Mormon hand cart. Since most
couldn't afford a wagon and horses or
oxen, they pulled this cart themselves
with all of their belongings.

Independence Rock ahead

Panoramic view of the rock.

I found two benches this time.

My mother would call this, "a cloud coming in". Lightening and downpours were part of it.
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. I have enjoyed your pictures and stories about your trip. How has your truck and 5th wheel held up for your travels. By now you probably have some opinions about them.

    1. Hello Don. I haven't figured my travel stat's in a while but I would guess it is about 26,000 miles with 13,000 towing and 13,000 exploring. I have been very satisfied with my choices for both truck and RV. I haven't found anything wrong with the truck. She has pulled the RV over every mountain and safely down the other side. She has a comfortable ride and I am pleased with all of the options I selected. The RV has held up very well with the large amount of towing miles in such a short time. I've replaced the battery that was installed by the dealer as well as the tires. The Goodyear tires I put on in Ohio last year have performed really great. Only minor things have needed fixing, like loose screws, etc. I am keeping an eye on a soft spot on my floor by the sink/stove, but it is not a big problem, at least not yet.

      With the amount of mileage I have put on both pieces of equipment, I couldn't be happier with my choices.

      I talked mainly in general terms, but if you have a specific question about either, just let me know