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Wyoming’s Reservation System for Camping May Be Permanent

in News/Coronavirus
4418

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming implemented a reservation system for campsites at its state parks as a way to get state residents back out into the parks more quickly, a state official said Friday.

Dave Glenn, with State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails, said the reservation system put in place in anticipation of state park campgrounds opening on May 15 was seen as a way to speed up the process of getting residents out to the parks.

“Our biggest goal was to get people from Wyoming out camping sooner,” he said. “Going to the reservation system allows us to do that.”

Gov. Mark Gordon announced last week that campgrounds at state parks would be open for use by Wyoming residents only. 

The reservation system was seen as a way to prevent out-of-state visitors from camping at state parks and as a way to make sure campers observed social distancing guidelines.

The system has been met with opposition from some and a petition drive has been launched to urge Gordon to halt its use. 

The petition said the state’s campsites should continue to be claimed on a “first-come, first-served” basis and also criticized the reservation fee of $7.75 charged by the company running the reservation system. 

The petition on change.org had been signed by more than 27,000 people as of Friday afternoon.

But Glenn, deputy director of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails, said the system will help keep out-of-state visitors from claiming state park campsites, will keep park staff from having to handle cash from people paying for campsites and will make it easier for park officials to follow social distancing guidelines.

He said park officials determined it would be wise to keep campsites 25 feet apart while social distancing is being observed, so the reservation system allows park managers to close certain campsites to preserve that distance. 

“There are some campsites that are really close and we said ‘OK, we need to close about every other one of those,’” he said.

People will be able to reserve campsites while driving to state parks, Glenn said, by accessing the reservation site from their smart phones or other portable devices.

“They will still be able to do first-come, first-served,” he said. “Hop online, see what’s available and reserve it on the drive. Click the button and you’re camping.”

Glenn said he understood why some people are upset over the reservation fee charged on top of the nightly camping fee of $6 to $9.

However, he added that the state is trying to negotiate a better deal with the reservation company, which pockets the reservation fee, and noted that when non-residents are allowed to camp at the parks, they will have to pay a higher reservation fee than residents.

In addition, Wyoming residents will be able to reserve spots before non-residents, he said.

“We want to make sure that residents who want to get out on the Fourth of July at Glendo are able to do that,” he said.

The reservation system will also reduce conflicts over campsites and generally make it easier for people to spend time in state parks, Glenn said.

Glenn said the state will reassess the situation at the end of the summer to determine if the reservation system will remain in place. 

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Moorcroft Woman Petitions Governor to Remove State Park Camping Reservation Requirement

in News/Coronavirus
4359

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By Jennifer Kocher, Special to Cowboy State Daily From County 17

Jordan Webb is happy with Governor Mark Gordon’s announcement last week allowing Wyoming residents to camp in state parks as of May 15.

That’s great news, she said. The trouble for the Moorcroft resident, however, is the added directive requiring residents to make a reservation in advance of procuring a camping spot, cabins at Keyhole and Boysen State Parks, yurt reservations at Glendo, Guernsey and Sinks Canyon State Parks or any other reservation at Wyoming state parks.

Typically, state park camping sites are garnered on a first-come, first-serve basis with no need to make a reservation. At $7.75 per reservation, those fees can add up, Webb noted, especially on top of day-use or over-night camping fees, particularly for families like hers who do a lot of camping.

There’s also a $2.50 fee for cancellations or other changes. For this reason, Webb has launched a petition to Governor Gordon asking him to drop the reservation fee.

“Now to camp at any state park you must make a reservation first and pay a reservation fee on top of the park fee,” Webb writes in the petition. “There is no more getting off early on a Friday and buzzing out to the lake anymore. We should not have to pay more and ask before we are allowed to camp.”

She’s asking other Wyomingites to sign to show the Governor that the people he works for are not pleased with this new decision, she added.

“Let’s take back one of our freedoms of being able to do something as simple as camp without asking permission,” the petition states. “If this law stays in place it will make it harder for families and friends to get together and enjoy the easy life that is camping. We need to stick together and demand that things go back to the way they were.

“We don’t need to check in to make sure it’s okay that we got out and enjoy the outdoors,” Webb added. “The state parks belong to us so let’s take them back!”

It’s a message that seems to be resonating with many around the county and state. As of Tuesday afternoon, just under 13,000 people had signed with new signatures ticking up every few minutes, well past her goal of 5,000-signatures.

Gary Schoene, public Information Officer for the Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources, understands that residents are upset.

The fee pays for a third-party, reservation management service to ensure overnight sites are being booked by Wyoming residents, per the Governor’s public health orders forbidding out-of-state visitors from camping in state parks.

“I understand people’s frustration,” Schoene said, “but this is the plan we’re currently working under, and we are trying to do the best under a difficult situation.”

The fee goes entirely to paying for the reservation service, he noted, and they’re not making any money from the additional charges.

Meanwhile, Webb and others are asking the Governor to reconsider this directive.

“I understand the world is crazy right now,” Webb wrote in a message to County 17, “but the Governor has gone too far, and many people are angry, so I want our voices to be heard. We own those parks, and the Governor works for us, and I hope this petition is a good reminder of that.”

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Camping in The Shadows of Outlaws

in News/Recreation/Tourism
1921

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Outlaw Cave, Hole-in-the-Wall, the names conjure images of bandana-covered faces, men in black hats, and a posse hot on their heels. Twenty miles southwest of Kaycee, Wyoming, is a campground that offers a chance to walk in the footsteps of those lawless legends. 

Outlaw Cave Campground is located on the rim of Outlaw Canyon, 1000 feet above the middle fork of the Powder River. This majestic 12-site campground offers few amenities, but a wealth of scenery and adventure. Great fishing and hiking abound, but the real draw is the history.

Wild bunch
Front row left to right: Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid, Ben Kilpatrick, alias the Tall Texan, Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy; standing: Will Carver, alias News Carver, & Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry; Fort Worth, Texas, 1900.

Between 1899 and 1901, Butch Cassidy (aka Robert Leroy Parker) and the Sundance Kid (aka Harry A. Longabaugh) were lawless members of Butch’s gang the Wild Bunch. The same Butch and Sundance immortalized by myth, legend and Hollywood films. The Wild Bunch was part of a loose organization of other gangs known collectively as The Hole-in-the Wall Gang. The Wild Bunch’s crimes were wide-ranging and included bank robbery, stagecoach and highway robbery and horse and cattle rustling. 

The Hole-in-the-Wall gang got its name from their base of operations, out of Hole-in-the-Wall Pass. These desperadoes were outlaws on the run and one of their many hideouts was in hidden deep in a canyon on the Powder River. 

The route to the campground takes you past row after row of red sandstone bluffs, lined up like rusting battleships in port. In the early morning light, some look like ghost ships, or would could be mistaken for the last resting place of Noah’s Ark.

The drive will take you through working ranches, and you’ll see scores of wildlife, endless and amazing geological features, but few other campers. 

The no-fee campground is located on BLM land and has one vault toilet but no water and no trash collection. Camper are advised to pack out what you bring in. 

Fifty yards from the campground is the rim of Outlaw Canyon and the trailhead to Outlaw Cave. The hike down to the cave is a 1,000 foot descent! This hike is more technical than the average walk in the woods, but for the experienced hiker, the trek will take you about 20 minutes. It’s not hard to see why gangs chose this location for their hideouts. 

The reward for your effort will be a peaceful running river, and brown trout begging to take your bait. You did remember your pole?

Explore the caves along the other side of the riverbank, and take time to imagine yourself holed up there hiding from the law. Remember, you are standing in the shadows of the outlaws themselves. Butch, Sundance and the multitude could have plotted their next robbery right where you are standing!

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