Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Across the Great Divide Basin

I'm posting yesterday's notes at noon today (on the road) since we had no internet last night.  No time to put in other photos.  I'll catch up tonight when we're in Boise.

If you look at a detailed map of Wyoming, one that shows the continental divide, you’ll see something interesting.  Between the northern and southern sections of the Rocky Mountains, there is an area that is circled by the lines of the continental divide.  In this area the line of the continental divide separates and goes around a great basin at the top of the continent.  This is the great divide basin, an area of high grassland at an altitude of about 7,000 feet.  In this basin the water would not run to the edges of the continent but would pool somewhere in the centre of the circle.  Of course, because this is desert here no lake is formed.  There’s really not much there at all except for herds of prong horn antelope and part of Interstate 80.  We traveled through a corridor of about 30 miles of this area today along with many big trucks.  This is what it looked like.

After we crested the divide line on the west side at about 6,500 feet the land sloped down and we entered the red desert.  I think the name comes from a variety of red-stemmed sage that gives a crimson colour in places,

or perhaps it’s from the red rock beneath.

As we descended into a canyon the red rock showed itself in gorgeous cliffs and pillars.

Eventually we descended to the Great Salt Lake, the area settled by Mormons who crossed the continent on foot and came over the continental divide at south pass, just north of the basin.

It’s still very windy in this area and it makes driving difficult, especially on the winding sections of the road.  We happened on an accident where a motor home about the size of ours had flipped over and its two occupants were being taken away by ambulance.   This kind of accident can happen so easily if you’re traveling just a few kilometers more than is safe.  We can only hope that the older couple driving that little motor home aren’t badly injured.  It certainly made us more aware of our speed on the corners.

We stopped early this afternoon and picked up some fruit at a stand near Brigham City, Utah before finding a place to camp.

Tomorrow we’ll start early again with the goal of driving through Idaho and into Oregon.


  1. Thanks for the update. I wasn't worried exactly but had wondered about the winds.
    That high altitude desert sounds fascinating. And worth a visit.
    As we've observed before, our ancestors certainly had guts and determination.
    Stay safe.

  2. It is beautiful there. I love Utah and all of the fascinating rock formations.

    Drive safely. Better late than never.

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