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Visit Sweetwater County: Road Trip Into Wyoming’s Wild Natural Beauty

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A trip to Yellowstone is a bucket-list-worthy adventure, but the journey to the park can be just as unforgettable as the park itself.

Start a few hours south of Yellowstone, and drive through the incredible and untamed beauty of Sweetwater County to get a taste for Wyoming’s unique natural setting.

From state record-breaking trout to herds of wild horses, this is a place that’s rugged and ripe with opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Get off the grid and reconnect with nature as you whitewater raft, off-road on sand dunes, hike among ancient petroglyphs and let your spirit run wild.


At the very edge of Sweetwater County, straddling the Wyoming-Utah border, is the breathtaking Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The massive, twisting waterway is 42,000 acres of pure beauty. It provides awesome opportunities for boating and waterskiing, as the views around each bend are ever-changing and absolutely gorgeous.

You can even windsurf the lake, but it’s especially popular for its world-renowned fishing, as the reservoir is filled with trout, bass, and even salmon. Another way to experience the endless beauty here is to hike around the shores.

Rugged cliffs above the gorge and dense, lush forests provide wild and exciting trails. Rent a campsite beside the lake so you can sit back and enjoy this incredible place.


White Mountain Petroglyphs is a great hike for those who like their outdoor adventure with a side of history. The trails here take you past ancient rock carvings from between 1,000 to 200 years ago.

Take your time to examine the petroglyphs, which appear to depict elk and buffalo hunts, handprints, tiny footprints and other symbols and markings. Many tribes hold this place to be sacred, and you can feel something special in the atmosphere here.


Next, make your way to the Killpecker Sand Dunes. As the second-largest active dune field in the world, featuring thousands of acres of shifting sand, it’s truly a sight to see.

You can also experience the dunes while exploring the larger Red Desert area, which contains the sand dune field. These are back country roads with no services, so it’s a good idea to fuel up a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle. 

Just be careful — high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended and weather conditions can and do change quickly making it imperative to be prepared at all times.

There are no services along the route as it winds its way through the beautiful and rugged landscape, and cell phone reception may be limited. It is always advisable to inform someone of your destination and the planned time of return.


As you head north toward the sand dunes, it’ll be hard to miss Boar’s Tusk.

The lone butte is the remains of a volcano, composed of a rare, erosion-resistant volcanic rock called lamproite.

Drive a little closer to it to snap some photos and walk around… it’s a distinctive feature that adds character to the wild landscape.


If you’re short on time, then a scenic drive can give you a great sense of the wild western landscape with little effort… you won’t even need to get out of the car! 

The Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop is a unique opportunity to possibly see wild horses in their natural habitat. You’ll see herds of horses in all of their untamed glory, but plan to stop at the interpretive signs and scenic overlooks, too.

Just be careful — high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended and weather conditions can and do change quickly making it imperative to be prepared at all times.

There are no services along the route as it winds its way through the beautiful and rugged landscape, and cell phone reception may be limited. It is always advisable to inform someone of your destination and the planned time of return.


The city of Green River is a nice place to get back in touch with civilization during your outdoor excursion through the region. It’s also home to Expedition Island Park, a public green space that serves as the heart of the city.

Its history dates back to 1869 when John Wesley Powell launched his historic exploration of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon from the island, and you can follow in his footsteps with a visit to Expedition Island’s Green River Whitewater Park.

The North Channel of the Whitewater Park is a great place for tubers and beginning kayakers and canoers to put-in; the gentle drops, deep pools, and shallower edges make it a great place to swim, take a float on a tube and get the hang of navigating the river on a boat.

The main channel, which contains Castle Falls, is a little more advanced, but it’s an exciting and easy way to get your feet wet for some fun whitewater rafting and canoeing.

Be safe — don’t forget to check current whitewater conditions with USGS!


Another way to get wild in Sweetwater County is to meet some of the wildlife in the area. The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is absolutely amazing. 

Eagles, moose, pelicans, swans, deer, elk, antelope, jackrabbits, horses and more roam the landscape, which follows a portion of the Green River. The grassland is so wide and open that you might not see anyone else during a visit here.

The peace and quiet make for an incredible experience. Cruise around the roads, hike through the wilderness, backcountry camp and catch some fish in the Green River.


After spending a few days exploring, you’ll be re-energized to tackle the drive to Yellowstone.

The park is an absolute wonderland of natural beauty with geothermal oddities, incredible wildlife, and rugged mountains and canyons to explore. But as you experience all of the park’s jaw-dropping, bucket list-worthy sights, you might find yourself dreaming about the quiet beauty of Sweetwater County.

With so many different and unique ways to immerse yourself in the outdoor fun of Wyoming, Sweetwater County is an awesome stop on the way to Yellowstone or as a destination in and of itself.

Either way, experiencing the fun and outdoor allure of southern Wyoming is sure to create memories. It’ll turn even the least adventurous outdoorsman into a nature-lover!

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Visit Sweetwater County: EXPLORE THE WILD WEST

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Sure, National Parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton are great ways for the family to experience the unique landscape and culture of the Wild West, but nothing can beat actually exploring the charming towns, peaceful lakes, somber mountains and sweeping prairies just outside the parks.

This trip runs through an authentic slice of Americana that will give everyone, from the kids to the adults, a taste of what makes this part of the country so special.

You’ll learn about when dinosaurs roamed the land, see unique wildlife that lives here today and get outside as you fully appreciate this little corner of the country.


Seeing wildlife up close and personal in a natural habitat is always a special experience. The individual ecosystem of a place really plays a huge role in its culture and atmosphere, and Sweetwater County is no exception. Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is preserving a wondrous slice of wilderness along the Green River, which gives visitors an opportunity to meet some of its native residents. Animals like moose, elk, wild horses, swans, pelicans, antelope, and more can be sighted year-round, and the river itself provides world-class fly fishing. Whether you want a peaceful encounter with nature or to immerse yourself fully, Seedskadee is pure, wild magic.


The history in Sweetwater County is just as fascinating at its wildlife. From the region’s prehistoric days below an ancient lake to the Shoshone and Ute tribes who first populated the area to the Oregon, California, Mormon, Overland, Cherokee, and Pony Express Trails that brought thousands of intrepid pioneers through, there is a ton to learn about. Hands-on activities for kids, endless information for adults, cool artifacts, and rotating exhibits combine to make a visit to the Sweetwater County Historical Museum well worth your while.


Another way to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air is to head to Expedition Island Park. Here you can fish for trout, take a walk around the Greenbelt Pathway and admire the landscaping, kayak, raft or tube at the Whitewater Park, picnic and more. Kids especially will love the splash park and playground. It’s a great way to burn off some energy or cool off and get refreshed!


If you’re a cyclist or you’re traveling with any, then the Green River Bike Park is a great stop. Coast across log bridges, tackle jumps, get some air against the walls and truck through exciting rough terrain on your bike. If you’re a beginner when it comes to mountain biking, there’s a skills zone where you can ease into the excitement of the more challenging obstacles, or watch the pros do their thing as you circle the smooth loop trail around the park via the Wilkin’s Peak Trail System, the #1 singletrack trails system in the state, according to


For an authentically Wyoming experience, you can check out a herd of wild horses on the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop. Scenic overlooks make for great breaks from the road, interpretive signs add context to the route, and, of course, the wild horses are an incredible sight to see. There are more than 1,000 of them in this area, and you have the best chance to see them in the morning and late afternoon. The sunset is fantastic from atop White Mountain on this route, so plan accordingly if time allows! This scenic loop is best experienced from a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle.


Before there were wild horses in Wyoming, there were dinosaurs! Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs is right off the highway and contains five massive dinosaur skeleton casts that are on display for the public. Many of the fossils were found in the state and include the remains of a Plesiosaur, a T-Rex, a Camptosaurus and a Stegosaurus. The casts are free to visit, and the WWCC has a neat campus that’s worth checking out. Or just grab a bite to eat at the T-Rex Grill, located in the shadow of the beast’s bones.


Another great option for lunch is the retro diner-style Remedies Grill. The storefront is actually part gift shop, part home medical supply company (which explains the name “Remedies”!) and part soda shop, but it’s loaded with local charm. The menu isn’t too big, with mostly burgers, salads, fish and chips and grilled cheeses, but everything is prepared to old-fashioned perfection. Finish it all off with a drink from the soda fountain and enjoy the quirky, friendly atmosphere!


Head back to the Western Wyoming Community College to check out another interesting display, the Weidner Wildlife Museum. The exhibit, open Monday through Thursday, features nearly 125 taxidermied specimens from around the globe. From bears and elephants to lions and rhinos to cheetahs and crocs, there are loads of specimens to examine at the free museum. Walking into a room stuffed to the gills with mounted creatures is not something you get to experience every day, and it’s worth a quick stop!

Between marveling at dinosaurs, watching wild horses run free, enjoying a root beer float at a vintage diner, and fishing in the Green River, there’s something for everyone to love in Sweetwater County. This hidden gem in the corner of Wyoming is loaded with enough to keep the family busy for days!

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Legislators: Next Special Session Won’t Deal With Massive Revenue Shortage

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

It is unlikely Wyoming’s Legislature will tackle the state’s budget problems in its next special session, the president of the state’s Senate said Friday.

Sen. Drew Perkins, R-Casper, said legislators probably won’t have enough information by the time they hold their next special session to deal with the revenue shortfalls expected for the state’s budget.

“If you’re going to make smart decisions, you’ve got to have enough data and you have to have data that shows some trends from which you can extrapolate the future,” he said. “We’re not even going to have two to three months of data on what the effect of the shutdown has been until the end of June.”

Legislative leaders have said the Legislature will probably convene again in late June to continue dealing with the impacts of coronavirus.

House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, agreed with Perkins the Legislature may not deal with revenue shortfalls until it meets for its regular session in 2021.

“As far as cutting budgets, that’s for later,” Harshman said. “That’s not for June, July or August. It might be a mission for the 66th (session of the Legislature). We’ll learn more every week.

Perkins said instead, it will probably be up to Gov. Mark Gordon to make budget changes needed in 2020 to begin adjusting to a projected revenue decline of 30% to 40%.

“I expect you’ll see the governor move aggressively to reign this in, to move it where he wants to go,” he said. “It’s very apparent the budget we passed was based on projections that will not happen.”

While the state budget approved for the 2021-2022 biennium was prepared with knowledge of declining coal tax revenues, the state’s oil industry has been hit in recent weeks with a price slump that saw prices dip briefly below zero. In addition, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to produce cuts in other revenue such as sales taxes.

Perkins and Harshman met by video with reporters Friday to give their thoughts on the special session held May 15 and 16.

During the session, attended largely by legislators who took part through a video meeting app, lawmakers approved three bills that set up a series of relief programs for businesses and renters.

“It went amazingly well for having never done this before,” Perkins said.

Perkins added he was pleased with how many members of the public were able to watch the proceedings online.

The session was largely focused on how $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds shoujld be spent.

Harshman said while more federal assistance that could be used to balance state budgets would be helpful, policies that would allow the national economy to open back up would be even better.

“Everybody else has to open up,” he said. “We need factories going, we need electricity consumption to go up, we need people driving and flying again so our exports can go to market and we can keep people working.”

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UW Survey: People Paying Less Attention To Coronavirus News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

People questioned for a statewide University of Wyoming survey are paying a little less attention to news about the coronavirus pandemic than they were when it first began.

The survey by the university Survey and Analysis Center showed that 83.9% of those questioned on May 11 are following coronavirus coverage “very closely” or “fairly closely,” a decline from the figure of 90.9% seen in late March.The number following the issue “a little closely” increased from 9% in March to 13.2% in May, while those following coverage “not at all closely” grew from 1.2% to 2.9.%.

For those following the coronavirus story, information provided by local media is more trustworthy than information provided by national news outlets, the survey said.

The survey said while 7.3% trust national news coverage “a great deal” and 6.1% trust local coverage to the same degree, 63.6% trust local news either “a great deal” or “a good amount,” while only 39.5% feel the same way about national coverage.

The percentage of people who do not trust national coverage at all was set at 30.3%, compared to 10.8% for local coverage.

On other issues, the survey showed that 43.2% of those questioned have changed their daily routines “a lot” since the pandemic began, while 41.6% have changed their routines “a little.”

Most people, 68.8%, changed their routines by spending more time at home, the survey said, while 68.2% said they were avoiding contact with others and 67.2% said they were going out to eat less.

The online survey of 473 Wyoming residents is the fourth conducted by the Survey and Analysis Center since the pandemic began to determine public attitudes about it. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%.

Those questioned were a randomly selected sample of Wyoming residents who are part of the Survey and Analysis Center’s “WyoSpeaks” panel. Email surveys were sent to 1,486 panel members and 473 responded.

Earlier Cowboy State Daily stories had erroneously reported that the survey was a random telephone survey.

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Utah Highway Patrols Pulls Over 5-Year-Old Driving to California to Buy Sports Car

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You really can’t blame him for wanting a sports car.

The problem is, when you are 5 years old, you aren’t allowed to drive.

But that didn’t stop a little boy from Ogden, Utah, who was doing it anyway.

Apparently, the 5-year-old was upset at his mother for not getting him a Lamborghini.

So, he grabbed the keys to his parents’ boring SUV and took off.

He actually made it to freeway — several miles from home.

A Utah Highway Patrol officer clocked him going 32 mph and thought he was looking at an impaired driver.

When the boy pulled over in the far right lane (see dash-cam footage above), the officer went out to question him.

Trooper Rick Morgan told FOX 13 in Salt Lake City that it became clear to him immediately he was dealing with an underage driver.

So, he did what any officer does: asked him where he was driving.  “California,” the boy said.

“He was going to try to get to his sister’s house in California,” Morgan said. “He told another trooper while we were investigating, trying to find the family, that he wanted to buy a Lamborghini when he got there and he showed a wallet, with $3 in it.”

The boy was eventually reunited with his parents. Sadly, his pursuit of a Lamborghini was not successful.

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Wyoming Coronavirus Cases Up By Five to Total 275; One Death

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wyoming went up by five on Monday, the same day the state saw its first death attributed to the illness.

The Wyoming Department of Health said new cases were reported in Fremont, Laramie and Sweetwater Counties.

The number of people to have recovered from COVID-19 since it surfaced in Wyoming also went up slightly to total 140 by Monday afternoon.

As of Monday’s update from the Department of Health, Laramie County had 60 cases; Teton County had 56; Fremont County had 41; Natrona County had 33; Sheridan County had 12; Campbell and Johnson had 11; Sweetwater had nine; Converse had eight; Albany, Lincoln and Washakie had five; Carbon and Uinta had four, and Crook and Goshen had three. Big Horn, Hot Springs, Niobrara, Park and Sublette counties each had one case.

The death was reported in Johnson County and the patient was identified as an older male with underlying health issues that made him susceptible to coronavirus complications.

“While we’ve learned most people who are infected are able to recover at home without medical care, we also know people who are aged 65 and older and people who have medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and weak immune systems are more likely to experience complications and become severely ill,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer.

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25% of Wyoming Stay-At-Home Workers Boozing During Work Hours

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If you are tempted to have a drink or seven two while working at home during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone.

According to a new study, a full 25% of Wyoming workers who are newly employed-from-home are slamming a few back during the work hours.

The survey polled 3,000 American workers and the drink of choice among work-from-home boozers is beer.

What kind? Sadly, we don’t know. Maybe Blatz or Schlitz Malt Liquor. Perhaps Lowenbrau.

Those with a sense of humor would undoubtedly choose Corona. Or Coors Light.

Does 25% seem high to you? Of our neighboring states only one has a lower percentage of boozers (and it’s not Utah).

Only 22% of South Dakotans are taking advantage of not having a boss around.

Hawaiians flat-out don’t care. A full two-thirds of them are opening up the hatch while working on TPS reports.

The lowest state?  Arkansas with only 8% admitting to honking the hooch.

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UW Study Says Social Distancing Better For Economy Than No Social Distancing

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The economic impacts nationally of having people avoid contact with each other during the coronavirus epidemic will ultimately be far smaller than taking no action to halt the spread of the illness, according to a study prepared by University of Wyoming economists.

The study concluded that while the immediate direct monetary impact of “social distancing” on the country’s economy will be higher than taking no action, the cost in lives will be much higher if no action is taken.

“Assuming that social distancing measures can substantially reduce contacts among individuals, we find net benefits of roughly $5 trillion in in our benchmark scenario,” the study said.

The study, titled “The benefits and costs of flattening the curve for COVID-19,” was authored by Linda Thunstrom, Stephen Newbold, David Finnoff, Madison Ashworth and Jason Shogren, all with the UW’s Department of Economics.

The authors said they wanted to answer the question of whether orders in place across the country for people to remain in their homes are worth the economic disruption that will result.

“These social distancing measures save lives, but they also impose significant costs on society,” the study said. “The resulting contraction of economic activity puts vulnerable low-income workers in jeopardy, and recent forecasts suggest that overall economic output in 2020 may decline substantially, despite large fiscal and monetary stimulus.”

The study quoted Goldman Sachs, an investment banking, securities and investment management firm, as predicting the value of the country’s Gross Domestic Product will fall by 3.8% this year due in part to social distancing measures. Over the next five years, the study projected total loss in value at $26.2 trillion.

Without social distancing measures, the five-year loss in the value of the GDP was estimated at $19.4 trillion.

However, deaths without social distancing could total more than 2.1 million, the study predicted, a number that shrinks to 941,000 with social distancing.

The value of the lives lost with no social distancing was estimated at $21.6 trillion, while with social distancing measures in place, the value will be $9.4 trillion, the study said.

The net effect is that over five years, social distancing will reduce the economic impact of the illness by $5 trillion, the study said.

“Our benefit-cost analysis shows that the extensive social distancing measures currently being adopted in the U.S. likely do not constitute an overreaction,” it said. “Based on a variety of plausible scenarios, the economic benefits of lives saved substantially outweigh the value of the projected losses of GDP.”

The impacts of social distancing will be severe, the study said, and people will have to be convinced to continue the practices as their economic situations change.

Wyoming Future Grim Without Social Distancing, Medical Society Head Says

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming can avoid a grim outcome from the coronavirus epidemic if its residents pay attention to recommendations to stay away from each other, the president of the Wyoming Medical Society said Monday.

Dr. David Wheeler, a Casper neurologist, used his appearance at a news conference held by Gov. Mark Gordon to urge state residents to heed the statewide orders put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve seen over and over again the horrific effects of waiting too long to enact such policies,” he said. “If we do not act now, it is certain that we will use up all the available resources for health care in just a matter of weeks.”

If the health care system is overwhelmed, people suffering from regular health problems such as heart problems or strokes will not be able to get basic care, Wheeler said.

“This is a grim outcome, but we can avoid this if we start working together today,” he said. “If we flatten the curve now, our hospitals will have more time to prepare. If we flatten the curve now, fewer people will be sick at any given time. If we work hard during this time to surge hospital capacity and at the same time slow the spread of the disease, many more of us will make it through to the other end of this.”

Wheeler said the Medical Society is also urging doctors to use “telehealth” technology to advise patients rather than in-person clinic visits and to not perform any elective procedures.

As of Monday afternoon, 94 cases of coronavirus had been diagnosed in 15 counties around the state. 

Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said during the news conference that since the disease reached Wyoming, 16 people have been hospitalized with symptoms, however, she noted that all 16 are not hospitalized now.

Harrist added the state is estimating that 24 patients have fully recovered from the disease.

The state has issued three orders designed to encourage “social distancing” among the state’s residents. One closed schools and businesses likely to draw more than 10 people, another closed businesses providing personal services, such as hair salons and tattoo parlors, and a third banned gatherings of 10 or more people.

All three orders are in place until April 17. President Donald Trump is recommending that social distancing guidelines be observed until the end of April and Gordon said he and Harrist are studying Wyoming’s situation daily to determine whether the state’s orders should be extended.

Wheeler said in other places around the world, it appears that three to six weeks of social distancing is required before infection numbers peak and then begin to drop.

“Then there’s an additional multiple week tail-off,” he said. “We’re really looking at continuing social distancing fairly aggressively for the next six weeks or so and then gradually beginning to relax in the next couple of months after that.”

Gordon also announced that the state has been working to get equipment into the hands of county officials and the Wind River Indian Reservation tribes, along with the coronavirus test materials that have been in short supply.

Gordon also repeated his earlier pleas to Wyoming residents to stay at home if at all possible to slow the spread of the illness.

“Regardless of where you are, regardless of the circumstance, you need to stay at home, you need to respect social distancing, you need to practice exceptional hygiene,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you all go to the Walmart or some other store at the same time.”

Businesses should take steps to make sure they limit the number of customers coming through their doors to make sure not too many people gather at once, Gordon said.

“This is incredibly important,” he said. “If we can continue to work to flatten the curve, evidence has shown that we can defeat this virus before it becomes a challenge for the state.

Wyoming Coronavirus Cases Increase to 82

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The detection of nine new cases of coronavirus in seven counties pushed Wyoming’s coronavirus case count to 82 on Saturday.

The Wyoming Health Department reported the cases included the first cases in Converse and Sublette counties. Three new cases were reported in Fremont County, while one new case was reported in each of Converse, Johnson, Laramie, Sheridan, Sublette and Teton counties.

As of Saturday morning, the number of cases around the state stood at 20 in Fremont County, 19 in Laramie County, 13 in Teton County, eight in Natrona, and six in Sheridan. Johnson County had five cases and three cases were reported in Carbon County. Albany, Campbell, Converse, Goshen, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater and Washakie counties each reported one case.

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