On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
In August 2006, I took a road trip through some of the Western US to go to orienteering events near Laramie, WY and Buena Vista, CO, and to see some sights along the way. My first stop was at Timpanogos Cave National Monument, in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. Timpanogos is actually three caves, connected by man-made tunnels. It’s a bit of a hike from the parking up to the cave entrance, but once you’re there the cave tour isn’t too strenuous, although a bit of a squeeze in a few places.
All photos taken with an HP PhotoSmart R707.
The view from along the trail up to the cave entrance. The caves penetrate Mount Timpanogos, the second-highest peak in the Wasatch at 11,700 feet.
The first cave, Hanson’s Cave, has been damaged by onyx mining and private collection. Some of the delicate formations further in are in better shape.
This formation is called the Great Heart of Timpanogos. There are legends about two Indian lovers which end sadly, but whether these stories originate with the Ute people of the area, or with imaginative tour guides, I’m not sure. The NPS website has more on these.
Being a limestone cave, Timpanogos has a wide variety of formations. These are called helictites.
One of the more interesting and colorful formations.
Continuing on to Wyoming. The orienteering events were the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, between Laramie and Cheyanne. At the eastern end of the area is the Vedauwoo Climbing Area, which draws rock climbers from all over. Some of the climbs are suitable for beginners, while others can be very technical.
One of the things to do on a day off is visit the Laramie Plains Museum at the Iverson Mansion. This large Victorian was built in 1892.
Pronghorns in a prairie south of Laramie. It’s hard to get a picture of them because they move so fast. They aren’t really antelope; their closest living relatives are giraffes and okapi.
West of the Cascades
Beautiful! And thanks for identifying pronghorn accurately.
I’m pretty sure the Natives who hunted the pronghorn just called them food. They are beautiful animals tho.
The cave formations are strange and fascinating, and the Vedauwoo Climbing Area is interesting in a different way — it’s not an area I’ve ever visited, or a landscape I’ve see in pictures. We get taken on so many cool journeys around here!
Those pinkish stalagmites have a look about them that’s kind of, well, suggestive and maybe NSFW.
Pronghorns are the fastest mammals in the Americas, and the second fastest land animal in the world, after the cheetah. They can run at speeds of 55 mph for a half mile, and can sustain speeds of 35 mph for four miles. Amazing animals.
Holy smokes, this is some good stuff. Right into my veins!
Love the pronghorns, but the caves will not be going even my hypothetical bucket list. Too dark and creepy.
@Yutsano: You got me curious about what the Native people called them. I found that they had a wide variation in cultural significance.
@Wag: There used to be cheetahs here in North America IIRC, good reason to be fast.
Edited for clarity
@West of the Cascades: Having grown up with pronghorns in Nebraska, I never knew, till now, that they weren’t antelopes, but more closely related to giraffes!
I believe we saw Pronhorns in Nevada north of Winnemucca.
Pleased to be able to use the name Winnemucca! (Covid stir crazy?)
The pictures are intriguing western terrain, thanks!
Thanks for the comments. Part Two is in the queue.
Sadly, Pronghorn’s won’t be around much longer,
I used to live a few hours from Vedauwoo and did a lot of rock climbing there; the area has a lot of what are called “off width” climbs, meaning wide enough that you have to shove your whole body into a wide crack and struggle up inside it. It’s kind of a specialized subgenre of rock climbing. Lots of other good routes there and excellent rock quality too.
@Origuy: Thanks for the natural history about prong horns; giraffe and okapi!?!? Wow! Very cool factoid.
@Jay: Too gloomy. The article cited is six years old. There are plenty of pronghorn in various western states.