We pulled into Western Hills RV Park in Rawlins, Wyoming on June 15, 2017, for a one-night stay. The doors nearly flew out of our hands when we opened them to step out. Sand pelted my bare legs as Jon and I set up the trailer. What was up with all the wind? Good thing we weren’t staying more than one night.
On to Douglas KOA in Douglas, Wyoming and more wind. The wind was great when it pushed us down the road, not so much when it hit us broadside. After driving for about an hour, I realized we were going the wrong way. That will teach us to rely on only the GPS. Back to using a paper map.
When we stepped out of the truck at the Douglas KOA, the most wonderful perfume greeted us to the RV park. Was that scent coming from those dusty leafed trees with yellow flowers?
Yep, they were Russian olive trees. Once used as a drought resistant windbreak, the state now considers them a noxious weed, banned from sale by nurseries. Also, county weed and pest control departments throughout the state are required to determine whether removal or control is warranted. Although I wanted to bottle the smell and take it home with me, I had to be satisfied with enjoying the aroma while in Douglas and then say goodbye.
Two nights in Douglas allowed us to explore a few places in the area. First up was the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Museum. They had a restored train engine and a few cars on display.
The dining car was impressive as was the gleaming stainless steel galley.
Many towns claim to have the original Jackalope and Douglas is known as the first town to claim such a creature. The city’s version is this statue.
We walked the North Platte River Pathway Trail taking in the views of the river, admiring the wildflowers, and enjoying the aroma of the Russian olive trees along the riverbank.
Fort Fetterman is a Wyoming historic site preserving the military post, which was established in 1867. The museum and ordinance warehouse are the only buildings remaining, but visitors can walk the grounds where the different buildings that did exist are identified. A gazebo at the end of the trail has great views of the Platte River valley below from the plateau.
We found out why so many vehicles drove around town covered in red mud when we tried to drive out to Ayres Natural Bridge. Caterpillars and construction signs warned us this might not be an easy drive. We didn’t expect the bumpy muddy mess to continue for three miles, but that appeared to be the case. Although we wanted to see the natural bridge, it wasn’t worth getting stuck in the muck. Other cars and trucks continued on the road as if they were driving on a freeway. The first car wash was our next stop. Letting the clay-like red earth dry out would not have been wise.
We also spent time at the Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum. Located at the county fairgrounds, it holds several collections including guns and memorabilia from the Johnson County War between the regulators and rustlers near Buffalo, Wyoming in 1892, art depicting life in the West, Native American decorative arts, the 1864 Sioux style teepee used in the 1990 production of “Dances with Wolves,” and much more.
Another interesting place in Douglas is the Camp Douglas Officers’ Club State Historic Site. The camp housed 2,000 Italian and 3,000 German POWs and 500 army personnel during 1943 through 1946. A few of the POWs even returned to Douglas to live after the war. Only the officers’ club building has survived. Fortunately, much of its original construction remains intact and restorations are completed when funds are available. Original murals created by three Italian prisoners still grace the walls, many of which are re-creations from movies and western artists of the time. Examples of wooden boxes, laminate wooden bowls, and colored pencil artwork are also displayed.
Douglas, Wyoming turned out to be a great place to stay for a few days and soak up the history of the area. We also recommend the Douglas KOA as a place to stay.
Black Hills South Dakota, here we come.