Across the Plateau from Utah to Wyoming – West Coast Spring Roadtrip

White Memorial Chapel
White Memorial Chapel at Salt Lake City, Utah

I was very excited for the next phase of this trip as I would be venturing into 2 new states – Wyoming and Idaho for the first time. And most importantly, I would be snowboarding at 2 new ski resorts that are considered one of the best in the country. But first, I need to drive back north from Salt Lake City. One of the most direct routes to the town of Jackson would be via Ogden on I-15 northbound before taking the mountain pass from Idaho Falls, but I decided to make a detour via the canyons on the northeast of Salt Lake City, heading towards Park City, which in itself is home to a 3 other famous ski resorts (Deer Valley, Canyons and Park City). Amongst these, Deer Valley only allows access to skiers and not snowboarders so it was one reason I decided to skip on Park City this time round.

Mountains and Canyons
Mountains and canyons around I-80 East in Utah

The starting of the journey passes by a canyon pass which made it a more scenic route in my opinion as I entered I-80 headed east from Salt Lake City. This canyon scenery gradually shifted to a spacious valley landscape as I approached Park City. Instead of exiting the interstate, I followed the route on I-80 headed north this time passing some small local communities and towns before making a first pit-stop beside the huge Echo Reservoir. This huge mass of water is unmistakeable and there is a large parking lot beside the viewpoint where I notice a few truckers using for a resting area.

Echo Reservoir
Echo Reservoir in Utah

Not that there are any amenities in the form of gas stations or fast food here though the place was not very clean with some litters spotted around the area. Of particular concern though was the low water level. Indeed, 2015 would probably be remembered for a year where snow fell in huge amounts out east but was in short supply in the western part of the continent. It was not exactly the best year to try out snow sports in an unfamiliar resort. But here I am travelling all the way to visit 2 new resorts for the first time ever.

Empty highway in Wyoming
Empty highway in Wyoming

This drive was also significant in that past Echo Reservoir the highway becomes more sparsely populated as I entered the state of Wyoming. Past the border town of Evanston, it nearly became virtually empty as I took a turn into Highway 189 north towards yet another small town of Kemmerer. The solitude in the drive was certainly pleasant as I was able to relax!

Panorama of Fontenelle Reservoir
Panorama of Fontenelle Reservoir

Agriculture seems to be a huge part of Wyoming and it was certainly nice to see wind mills around the flat plateau landscape of this state. Blue skies, flat plains, small towns with a nice highway makes me just want to listen to Country songs on the radio! While the landscape was flat, it was in a high altitude, making the area even colder and the next stop along this long drive was by the Fontenelle Reservoir which was still frozen. The Fontenelle Reservoir is actually part of the historic Green River and there is also several points to stop along this winding reservoir with a landmark in one of the viewpoints closer to the town of La Barge.

Landmark along the Green River
Landmark along the Green River

The emptiness continued in this are as I was able to stop at the viewpoints and not even hearing any car passing by on the highway beside it. That feeling of solitude with nothing else but the sound of the wind and nature can be a very surreal thing to have for someone who lives in the city and I have to say it is enjoyable at times!

Mountain Plains
Empty highway along the mountain plains

What made it even more unusual was the location of another sizeable community called La Barge where their Main Street formed part of Highway 189 and it is probably a good place to stop for gas as well along the way as I still had a distance to go. Speaking of gas, the prices in Wyoming is definitely one of the cheapest in the United States and that made this state a pleasant one for a roadtrip! Just do not expect the usual brands of Esso, Shell and Chevron!

At La Barge Sinclair
Stopping for gas at La Barge, Wyoming

After the gas stop, the drive continued past vast ranches and watching the orange glow from the land with snow-capped peaks in the distance makes it a memorable drive even though the roads are just straight 2 lane roads.

Panorama of the Plains in Sunset
Panorama of the Wyoming plains in sunset

Further ahead, as we approached Jackson, the mountain roads makes another appearance and both sides of the highway became filled with snow! It definitely got colder and made me even more excited about what lay ahead for me! Driving in the middle of a highway with the surrounding landscape blanketed in snow marked a high for this trip and I realized that I had been driving for nearly the whole day at an elevation of between 1800-2100 metres above sea level which is nearly similar to being in the peak of some of the coast mountains around Vancouver and quite close to the peak of Whistler. Well that was something to think about during the drive at least!

A Wyoming Sunset
A Wyoming sunset along Highway 189

The sunset turned to dusk as I approached Jackson and arriving during the ‘Blue Hour’ was certainly a nice welcome into town as I drove up to the driveway of the Wyoming Inn just along the main highway that is also Broadway to the town.

Snow Mountains at Dusk
Snowy mountains at dusk in Wyoming

For a much more immersive experience, attached at the start of the post is the time-lapse video of my drive!

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