There are three ways to bypass/cross the Wyoming Mountain Range.
One is to head north to Alpine Wyoming and then drive up the Snake River Canyon.
From Hoback Junction you can head south to Big Piney. Another way is to take
the Smith Fork Road, (four-wheel drive for a bit), and then take the TriCounty
road, again to Big Piney. The third way is to go to Alpine and then drive up
the Greys River road till you reach Sheep Creek. There you take the McDougal
Gap road to Daniel, Wyoming.
We have always wanted to drive to McDougal Gap and our son
Matt told us that he had driven across the Gap on his off-road bike. He told us
it was a good road and that we would have no problems driving the road.
Still we have been hesitant as unknown gravel mountain roads
can often turn into muddy/rocky messes and are no place to break down. Our
concern was unwarranted! Loading up the truck, (Renita did not want to take the
new car we could have taken the car), we drove to Alpine and headed up the
Of course, the road was its usual washboard self and we bumped
and bounced up the wide but rough gravel road. It was thirty-one mules from Alpine
and the road did finally get better. Reaching Forest service road 10125, the
McDougal Gap Road, we turned up it. It was only about nine miles up the road to
the pass and while the road did narrow down a bit it still remained a good
As we neared the Gap we drove between huge cliffs and
reached a series of switchbacks. More rocks and less gravel caused us some concern,
but it was still an easy but steep drive. Reaching the McDougal Gap, we passed
through it and stopped at McDougal Pass. Mt McDougal stood to the north.
The Wildflowers were blooming, and we stopped to take some
images before continuing down the east side of the pass.
A sign said that the
distance to Daniel was only thirty-three miles and even though it would be
longer we decided to continue.
A small steam appeared. The North Fork of Cottonwood Creek,
and as it grew larger, we stopped to see if there were any fish. Of course, I
had brought my fly rod, one should never travel without a fishing pole and I
tied on my favorite dry fly. I climbed down to the stream and carefully
avoiding beaver runs, (holes dug by beavers to break fly fisherman’s legs and
ankles) I made several casts before a nice fish hit the fly.
Trying to set the hook, I missed the fish and then another.
The fish were pretty small, and I continued to miss more fish until a larger
fish hooked itself. Fighting in the fish I saw it was a cutthroat trout and
after snapping several images, I safely released the fish. It quickly swam back
to its hiding place.
Now I needed a Colorado Cutthroat Trout for my Wyoming Cut
Slam application and we were in the Green River drainage so I hoped it would turn
out to be a Colorado Cutthroat. Continuing to miss more hits, I finally set the
hook on another fish but this time it was a small brook trout. The brook trout
here are an invasive species that have displaced the cutthroats and so I
considered myself lucky to catch a cut.
As we had no cell service I couldn’t check online to see if it
was a Colorado Cut until we got back home and it turned out it was. So now I
have my third fish of the award. Renita meanwhile had been taking more flower
and scenery images and returning to the truck we headed further down the road.
As we reached the Red Desert, the ditches of the road were
filled with purple lupines. We passed herds of antelopes and spotted the
largest buck antelope we have ever seen. The antelope ran before I could get
the camera ready and so we didn’t get a great image. The antelope had better
keep running as hunting season is fast approaching and with its massive horns
it will be lucky to survive this fall.
Reaching Daniel, Wyoming we looked for the walk-in fishing area
on the Green River, but we couldn’t see the signs. It was too bad as we had
hoped Renita could fish a bit and perhaps catch her third fish of the cut award,
(the area where I had fished was solid willows and not an east place to fly fish).
After eating lunch on the Green River, we decided to head
back home. It was an uneventful drive back with the only excitement being
seeing the landslides that had closed the Snake River Canyon.
They had happened
last week after a heavy rain and hailstorm and had even trapped cars but
luckily no one was injured.
Today is a good day to rest as tomorrow its off to the periodontist……