Edith Cook photo

Edith Cook

A friend of long standing moved from Cheyenne to Saratoga, WY, on retirement, and I visited her a few weeks ago. Early in the morning we went bathing in its medicinal hot springs, which are free of charge and well maintained. It was a unique experience.

The Wyoming town was named after Saratoga Hot springs in New York, but the hot springs of Wyoming were favorites of local Indians.  \ “The Place of Magic Water” they called it.

Saratoga’s population is around 1690, but originally the town was a modest farming and mining enclave. My friend showed me its historic Wolf Hotel, which was built in 1893. Since then, wealthy visitors have discovered the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort with its breathtaking vistas of the Snowy Range mountains and the North Platte River valley. No longer, the modest enclave.

Next time I visit my friend, I’ll persuade her to take a road trip with me and pay a visit to Encampment and Dixon. Along the way we might linger in Wyoming’s world-famous grove of trees, the landmark known as Aspen Alley.

Aspen Alley attracts photographers from thousands of miles away and is featured in publications all over the world. Aspen holds the title of largest living organism in the world. They grow in stands called clones and reproduce primarily by sending up sprouts from their roots. This means that virtually all the trees in a clone are connected.

Quaking aspens grow across Canada and into Alaska. In the lower 48 states, they grow throughout the Rocky Mountain states, the Great Lakes region and New England. They are called Quaking Aspen or Trembling Aspen because their leaves quake in the wind, which is due to the unusual shape of the leaf.

The oldest aspen clone, called Pando, is in Utah and dates back over 80,000 years. One of its clones was observed to have 47,000 stems. Naturally, aspen is Utah’s state tree, but Quaking Aspen grow across Canada and into Alaska. 

Other historic places I hope to visit with my friend are detailed in Rich Rosenfeld and Robert Edgerton’s a coffee-table book, “The Living Wyoming: A Photographic Tribute,” which includes a photograph of Aspen Alley that’s augmented by a description of how to get there via SR-70 on “fifty miles of some of the most breathtaking views you’ll find on this stretch of the road.” The added GPS coordinates give even more detailed information.

With 120 pages and over 275 panoramic images, this labor of love took the authors two years of effort—and 4500 miles of travel. The authors have focused on hidden treasures and spots most of us never hear about, let alone get to visit. The gems they found off the roads less traveled convinced them that their dream was worth pursuing. The quadrant, in turn, is divided into four areas of focus. The content of Grid Number One includes such colorful monikers as Box Elder Canyon, Casper Mountain, Devil’s Gate, Razorback Ridge, Hell’s Half Acre, and others.

Grid Two covers the spectacular Ayres Natural Bridge, which represents one of just three such natural bridge formations in the United States. There’s Glendo Reservoir and Guernsey State Park, North Sybille and Long Canyons, the Hat Creek Stage Station, and other markers. In the past I’ve had occasion to visit most of these.

Grid Three includes Battle Pass, climbing up to 8,620 feet to give different perspectives of Battle Mountain. From there it zeroes in on historic hotels, the Laramie River Overlook, plus picturesque snapshots of the tiny community of Savery with its old frontier cabins.

Grid Four encompasses Cheyenne with a photo series of Frontier Days, whence it veers off to the ghost town of Hecla. The Ames Monument, the University of Wyoming, Vedauwoo Rocks, Lone Tree Canyon, and Warren Air Force Base are documented also.

To explore other Wyoming quadrants is next on my wish list. “The Living Wyoming Series—Exploring the Four Quadrants” has recently been published in hardcover. From it I imagine I’ll discover all I need to know. The book is available at amazon.com and on the authors’ website at "the living wyoming rosenfeld"

Edith Cook worked as a translator before emigrating to California. She taught at a number of colleges and universities; as writer, she earned the Wyoming Arts Council’s Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award and its Professional Development Grant. Visit her at www.edithcook.com. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect the editorial stance of The Cheyenne Post.