August 2022 – There are several routes in and out of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, and this year we exited on the eastern side of the Park on a road we’ve never taken before: US-287. This goes up and over a mountain pass and swings by beautiful Brooks Lake.
Brooks Lake is a very scenic spot, and it was a great place to wander around with a camera! Long ago, one of our readers had recommended that we visit Brooks Lake, and we are so glad we were finally able to take him up on his recommendation. It’s lovely!
There are two USFS dry camping campgrounds in the area, Brooks Lake Campground and Pinnacles Campground. Each one is very nice and can fit small to medium sized rigs fairly easily. Unfortunately, there’s a five mile long dirt road to get there. But if you’re up for some back country driving, it’s a wonderful spot.
Brooks Lake, like many lakes in the western states, has a tendency to get toxic blue-green algae blooms in late summer when the temperatures rise, and this algae is lethal to dogs. There were Forest Service signs everywhere warning people not to eat the fish they caught too. But it is a gorgeous spot nonetheless. In springtime the algae wouldn’t be a problem — and there would be snow on the peaks!
30 miles south of Brooks Lake, a few miles south of the town of Dubois (more about that town in a later post), we came across a fabulous petroglyph. This one is really intricate. It has three fingers and three toes on each hand/foot, and it has a tail. There’s lots of detail on its skin or clothing. I’m not sure if this was a doodle gone wild, or if it has some hidden meaning or if, perhaps, the artist drank some toxic blue-green algae water and had a crazy vision… But whatever it is, it’s cool!
175 miles southeast of Brooks Lake, also on Wyoming’s US-287 highway, we found another wonderful spot for photography: Split Rock Overlook. It’s just a pullout on the highway with bathrooms and picnic tables, but we loved it. This place was super dog friendly and Buddy had all kinds of fun there.
The boulders were a blast to jump around on and were reminiscent of the Redstone Rest Area in Nevada. Kids would love playing on these rocks and they sure brought out the kid in all of us!
We had stopped just to get a bite to eat, but we ended up spending the better part of a day there!
Buddy loves all of our adventures, whether it’s hiking or taking photos. He takes his job as Trail Scout very seriously and always runs in front of us on the trail to scope out what’s ahead.
Fortunately, he waits for us or runs back to check on us if we’re lagging too far behind, and if there’s a fork in the trail, he waits for us to decide which way to go.
Sometimes he runs a little ways down one leg of the fork or the other and then stands there expectantly, letting us know his recommendation for our route. But he always leaves the final decision up to us.
He also knows the tell-tale sounds and signs when we get our camera gear out to go take photos. He gets super excited and leaps down off of wherever he’s perched to sit by the door until we’ve got all our gear loaded up and are ready to go out.
Once we’re out taking photos, he goes back and forth between us, checking on how we’re doing, checking how the photos are turning out, and generally keeping an eye on our whereabouts as we move around.
Several places where we camped in this part of Wyoming were near the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, the longest off-pavement route in the world, and we watched a steady stream of die-hard long distance mountain bikers making their way down this trail.
The trail starts in Jasper, up in Alberta, Canada, it ends at the US/Mexico border in New Mexico, and it takes a full summer for most cyclists to complete. Most of the cyclists we met had started in Jasper or Banff in late May or early June and were headed all the way to the border. Many were European. We met them on the trail, at our campsites and at the various grocery stores and post offices in the small towns that were near their route.
We chatted with Jenny and Romain from Switzerland for a while one day and were impressed with their bikes, their gear and their nonchalant attitude towards the full day of high altitude climbing that lay ahead of them.
They’d taken a year off to do some traveling as Covid waned, and they’d already camped all around Portugal and Spain for several months before they hauled their bikes to the American West to do the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
They’re keeping a blog of their American adventures at this link.
Jenny’s native tongue is German and Romain’s is French, so they alternate the two languages with each other, speaking German together for three days and then switching to French for the next three! How cool is that?! Of course, their English was excellent too…
We also met several hikers walking this same trail, and a few were doing the full distance as well. One hiker was on his fourth pair of hiking shoes so far and the other was on his third.
We are always amazed by long distance hikers and walkers and have now met quite a few people who have hiked the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail or simply walked across the entire United States from coast to coast (one gal we met had done it twice!).
One time we met a Lady Long Rider who was riding her horse (and towing a second horse to carry her gear) on a long distance adventure (more about her adventures at this link).
While grabbing lunch at Split Rock Overlook, we met a solo road cyclist who was riding his bike from New York to California. That is not the typical direction, since the prevailing wind goes from west to east, but he was having a ball and was very fit. He hailed from England, and his 3-month visa had run out mid-ride in late July. So he flew home, visited family and friends for a week, renewed his visa and returned to finish riding his bike across America. His favorite places so far had been Niagra Falls and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is open to motorized vehicles as well as non-motorized, and our new Swiss friends said they had seen lots of side-by-sides like our Polaris RZR. At another campsite we met up with a pair of long distance dirt bike riders who were doing a cross-Wyoming dirt bike ride on a new Backcountry Discovery Route that had just opened up.
Sometimes it’s these little discoveries — the backwoods lakes and campgrounds and unique highway rest areas and unusual fellow travelers we meet — are the most memorable highlights of our travels. The big name places like Sun Valley and Grand Teton National Park are stunning but the lesser known places can be just as fulfilling to visit.
Never miss a post — it’s free!
More info about :
- Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
- Backcountry Discovery Routes for motorcycles
- Location of Brooks Lake & Split Rock Overlook
- Brooks Lake Campground and Pinnacles Campground
Other blog posts from Wyoming:
- Lakes and Light in Wyoming and Colorado
- Finding Enchantment…in Encampment, Wyoming!
- Grand Teton National Park – An American Treasure!
- Summer Fun in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains
- Bighorn Canyon – A River Runs Through It in Montana!
- Chief Joseph Scenic Byway – Mountain Majesty Near Yellowstone NP
- Wildflowers in Wyoming – Spring Showers Bring Spectacular July Flowers!!
- Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive – Dazzling All American Road – WOW!!
- 4th of July in Cody, Wyoming – The Cody Stampede Parade!
- RVing Wyoming – Lakes, Mountains and Waterfalls
- Wyoming Back Roads by RV – Rugged, Remote and Wild!
- Buffalo Wyoming – RVing Basque Style in the Bighorns!
- Buffalo Wyoming – Cowboys, Cowgirls and Sheriff Walt Longmire!
- Eastern Wyoming Small Towns – An RV Trip through Wyoming’s Quiet Side!
- Grand Teton National Park Wyoming – Rare Sightings!
- Grand Teton National Park – 101 Ways to Enjoy The Tetons!
- Grand Teton National Park WY – Mirrored Waters
- Grand Teton National Park WY – Wild Skies
- Flaming Gorge, WY – Absolutely spectacular, colorful views and friendly big-game animals
- Pinedale, WY – A beautiful modern-day Boomtown
- Jackson, WY – The Wild West Tamed & Gentrified
- Afton, Wyoming – Cowgirl Town!
- Devil’s Tower, WY – Remember “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” ??
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – Stunning!
- Yellowstone National Park, WY – Bubbling Geysers
- Yellowstone National Park, WY – Big Game Animals
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You have to love Wyoming! We lived there for a few years in a small town called Ten Sleep. Beautiful area all around there to see.
That’s a great name for a town, Bob! I love it when we get sleep that’s a ten!! Wyoming is a beautiful state and we’ve really enjoyed our travels here over the years. Thanks for reading!!
You two always find the best spots 🙂
We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country!!
So glad you met up with some folks on the Great Divide trail. We have the entire set of cycle maps and have ridden the trail on our motorcycles 4 times – 3 north-south and 1 south-north. Portaging a BMW in the snow north of Yellowstone or negotiating the fine silt sand of New Mexico is very challenging, but so worth it for all the magnificent sights and experiences one has along the way. A beautiful part of the country and yet another reason we love our full-time RV lifestyle.
Wow! What an incredible series of adventures you’ve had, Pete! I can’t imagine doing that trip once, never mine doing it four times. Kudos to you! I’m sure you have a book’s worth of fantastic stories to tell from all those trips. And how wonderful it is that you’re out enjoying full-time RV lifestyle now. Happy trails…in Wyoming and beyond!
“Sometimes it’s these little discoveries — the backwoods lakes and campgrounds and unique highway rest areas and unusual fellow travelers we meet — are the most memorable highlights of our travels – the lesser known places can be just as fulfilling to visit.” So well expressed – and then demonstrated with the photos that followed. Love, Mom
Thank you…just some thoughts that come from the heart. We have as much (or more) fun in places we didn’t know existed 5 minutes before we got there as we do in places we’ve heard about for years. There’s a very special thrill that comes with discovering something new!!! xoxo
More of you, Mark, and Buddy living the dream. An inspiration to all of us living in the Matrix. 🙂
Now we’re Matrix part-timers but this escape sure has made for a glorious summer. We wish we could join you in the Finger Lakes when you go. Enjoy and take lots of pics!!!
Hello Gary is back! I have my 5th wheel, but I have a solar system that’s being installed and the parts are taking months to get here so they are good enough to store my 5th wheel indoors. I have them putting in a computer desk in place of the kitchen table as well. I have a lot to catch up on, but it looks like you all are doing well!
Terrific, Gary. Sounds like you are going to have a fantastic setup. Hopefully the solar parts will arrive soon and your installers can finish the job. The computer desk will be a great addition. We’ve been using folding tables in our toy hauler and it is so cool to have a “desk” area rather than always having laptops in our laps like the old days in our fiver! Happy trails and thanks for dropping us a line!