Fossil Butte & Mass of the Prairie
I drove fairly late, going from Craters of the Moon to Cokeville, WY before stopping. I actuallyl tried to stop before that, but every place was full. I found a place where someone had just
canceled reservations and finally got some sleep. I didn't even mind much that they didn't have internet. Well, they had it, it just didn't work well.
The trip to the National Monument the next day was more irritating, because of construction on US30. Construction is one of the hazards of driving in the summer, so it is just something you put up with. But when you are slowed to 35 mph for 6 miles, with a long wait for an escort through a long section of the road, and the only person you see at all is the guy driving the escort car, it starts to get annoying. But eventually, I got through to the monument.
The Visitor's Center was very nice, with a large number of different fossils on display and several hands on exhibits. At the top of the Fossil Lake Trail there is an active quarry, where the rangers are slowly excavating fossils. If you go up there when you hike the trail, they explain the process they go through for each fossil and even allow you to help if you want. Unfortunately, I was so interested in what the ranger was saying, I neglected to take pictures.
After leaving the monument, I stopped for lunch in Kemmerer, then headed north on US189 to Jackson, WY, the gateway to the Grand Tetons National Park. On the way, I saw a sign saying Historic Site Ahead, not uncommon anywhere I drove on the trip, and pulled into the pullout on an impulse.
The sign at the highway explained that the site was where the first mass in Wyoming was performed on July 5, 1840 before a group of Native Americans, trappers, and traders. I drove the 2 1/2
miles on gravel roads back to the actual site of the altar that is there (And still used every year on July 5) and found one of the most spectacular views of my entire trip. The altar is actually on private land, with house just beyond it. Getting in and out in the winter with snow on the ground must be a real pain, but having that view would be worth it.