Take the vast, open prairie of South Dakota, and remove the cows and farms, add some bunch grasses, sage brush, and pockets of stunted juniper, along with a few rolling hills, and you have Eastern Wyoming.
Somehow on our way from I-90 to I-80 in eastern Wyoming, we got off the beaten track and stumbled across a road through a picturesque canyon right before sunset. One of those construction signs with lighted messages warned us, “wildlife next 10 miles”. This was quite exciting because we had seen a total of exactly one hawk the entire day. Sure enough around one corner, there were three mule deer standing next to the road, but they quickly scurried away.
We spotted a raven or two as we drove along the smaller roads, but the winter landscape in this part of Wyoming seems devoid of wildlife: few hawks, no coyotes, no antelope, no jack rabbits, no cattle, no people. It might as well be the Gobi desert.
In the twilight we negotiated our way back to I-80 and were treated with a glorious sunset.
The next day, following I-80 west from Rawlings to Evanston and then into Utah, the Wyoming landscape got more and more interesting, as rolling hills of sagebrush gave way to rocky cliffs, deep canyons, and taller juniper interspersed with a few pines. But the sparseness of human settlement did not change. This is land for the very rugged, independent, individualists of us, who really enjoy their alone time.
Wyoming is challenging, and mystifying, and interesting, and welcoming. Towns have unusual names like Winner (where you introduce yourself by saying you’re a Winner-ite), Chugwater (how do you suppose it got that name?), and Guernsey (are there actual cows there?). Friendly hotel and restaurant personnel provide wonderful service, with nary a country twang in their speech. And I bet they are strong enough to throw a hay bale up on a pickup!