As mentioned in the previous post, in the lower 48 States there is none so sparsely populated as the state of Wyoming. The entire state has a population (580,000) that is approximately the same as Milwaukee, Wisconsin (585,000). There are 31 US cities whose populations are greater than the state of Wyoming. The largest city in Wyoming, Cheyenne its capital, has a population of only 64,000. Over half the state’s population reside in its 16 largest communities, the smallest of which has only 6,000 residents.
What Wyoming lacks in humanity it more than makes up in stark wilderness beauty. Nearly half of the state is owned by the federal government, most of which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service. The “crown jewels” of these public lands are the famed Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Founded in 1872 by an act of Congress, Yellowstone is the first national park in the world. The Park is nearly as large as the combined area of the states of Rhode Island and Delaware. Yellowstone sits atop the largest caldera (super-volcano) in North America. Half of the world’s geysers and hydro-thermal features are found in Yellowstone, the most famous of which is “Old Faithful”.
10 miles south of Yellowstone is Grand Teton National Park (est. 1929).
The two parks and the surrounding National Forests comprise one of the largest intact mid-latitude ecosystems in the world, home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, many of which are endangered or threatened.
It is little wonder that our four days spent bicycling through Yellowstone and Grand Teton (June 24-27, 2010) are among our fondest moments and memories.
In Yellowstone our Cycling for Change group cycled (cautiously!) past herds of Bison…
We hiked among the parks multi-colored thermal features…
Beheld amazing vistas…
And unashamedly embraced the role of tourists.
On the 26th, 50 miles of roads and a dedicated bicycle path transported us from Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park. The Tetons are breathtaking. The Park’s majesty is only slightly diminished by being situated in the figurative shadow of more famous Yellowstone.
Over the course of the four days we had only one “event”, Mass at the 1937 log-built Chapel of the Sacred Heart on the shores of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park.
Following Mass we were hosted by local Catholic groups at an outdoor pot-luck supper.
Under the influence of the blue sky, the panorama, full bellies, and maybe a beer or two, our spirits soared!
Next: The Rest of Wyoming!
Peace Everyone. Pete