Experience the WOW factor of Sweetwater County, Wyoming
Nobles drives an Australian made Pinzgauer, or as he calls it, an “SUV on steroids.” It’s a rugged safari style vehicle with open air capabilities that allow passengers to get the best possible view of their surroundings. Some of the finest views in Wyoming are located along the Wild Horse Scenic Loop, with several panoramic overlooks of the area’s prominent features, such as Pilot Butte, a distinctive navigational landmark and Boar’s Tusk, a 400-foot-tall volcanic spire that acts as a sentinel to the vast Killpecker Sand Dunes. The Wyoming, Wind River and Uinta mountain ranges are also on display, along with the Overland Trail and Union Pacific Railroad corridors. You’ll be taken off-road, up and down steep embankments, as you keep an eye out for the horses and any other animals that care to make themselves visible. Meanwhile, Nobles will regale you with interesting facts and a collection of colorful tales. Never one to shy away from a controversial subject, he will also inject his personal and passionate opinions about the politics of the wild horse management situation and various environmental issues.
When the horses are spotted, there’s palpable excitement from the group. Nobles tells us that the herd is a mix of different breeds from thoroughbreds and quarter horses to Morgans and Curly horses. We keep our distance, not wanting to spook them, as we take ample opportunity of this marvelous Kodak moment. Later, we spy a pair of old, bachelor stallions making their way down to a watering hole. And then there’s another group on a nearby hillside, which Nobles explains is actually comprised of several small clusters each consisting of a stallion and his mares. Towards the latter part of our excursion, we come across a grouping adjacent to the road. A few of the horses are surrounding a small colt that is lying on the ground, protecting her like elephants do with their young. They part and move on to graze, and we get a full look at the little one before it rises in ungainly fashion and scampers off to join the others.
At Killpecker Sand Dunes, we marvel at one of nature’s largest sand boxes. Created via a combination of volcanic action and subsequent wind erosion, the dunes can reach heights of over 100 feet and run for over 100 miles from west to east. They are traveling sand dunes, constantly on the move, which gives the vegetation in this environment a real challenge. For recreation-seekers, the dunes provide a soft terrain suitable for a myriad of activities such as hiking, sand surfing or an unforgettable match of beach volleyball. If you’re lucky, you might spot the herd of rare desert elk that roams across this unique landscape.
Nobles also includes a stop at the White Mountain Petroglyphs during our daylong tour. It’s an opportunity to see ancient artwork carved by the ancestors of present Plains and Great Basin Native Americans. The petroglyphs, of which there are hundreds, include drawings of elk, buffalo, horses, teepees and different kinds of human figures. Many date to early historic times, about 200 years ago; others appear to be older and are estimated to be as much as 1,000 years old. Nobles shows us a particular section of the rock with marks that appear to be hand holds. He notes a possible explanation for these indentations, telling us that Native American women might have created them during the childbirth process.