The Old West

September 22, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Sweet DreamsSweet DreamsA departing hailstorm leaves behind a colorful souvenir as the sun sets. The Absaroka Range creates the backdrop while badlands decorate the landscape below. (Dubois, Wyoming) If you want an authentic taste of the Old West along with some pretty spectacular scenery, you can find it in Dubois (DEW·boys), Wyoming - a little town with roughly 900 full-time residents located in the Wind River Valley. 

While only 85 miles from Jackson, it's a world away and surrounded by wilderness.

Geologically speaking the area is unique, with the Absaroka Mountains to the north, the Wind River Range to the south, and badlands between. You'll see evidence not just of glacial activity (Whiskey Basin is a good example) but also volcanic and tectonic. 

A high-clearance, off-road vehicle is your best bet when it comes to exploring this country. Finding some of the primitive roads is a little bit of an adventure (the forest service roadmap isn't the best I've ever seen) but well worth the effort. Access points to some of these treasures are hiding in places you'd never expect - but I'll leave that for you to discover.

Hiking trails - marked, and more often unmarked - are abundant. Bring your compass. Maybe a hiking buddy, too.

The town itself dates back to the late 1800s. Prior to his Hole in the Wall days, Butch Cassidy lived in Dubois; he owned a ranch on the outskirts. The general store where he shopped still stands. (Yes, he did business at the local bank. No, he did not rob it.) Later he had two hideouts in the area.

While there is tourism in Dubois, it remains a real "cowboy town." In my opinion, the landscape is beautiful - and distinctive - enough to warrant National Monument status. Then again, the fact that it's flying under the radar might be a very good thing. Stopping for a hike in Grand Teton National Park on the way back, it was busy, busy, busy. The difference was pronounced.

Ole' Butch knew how to get off the beaten path. 

"I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals."

From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Screenplay by William Goldman

Intricate ErosionIntricate ErosionBadlands in magical late-day light (Dubois, Wyoming)


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