Baggs, Savery, and Wyo Rte. 70 Across Battle Pass

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After covering a lot of flat land on my trek across southern Wyoming from Flaming Gorge, I was looking forward to exploring some more mountains.  With the day winding down, one more stretch of road stood between me and my destination: Wyoming Route 70, also known as Battle Highway across Battle Pass.

Before starting down Route 70, I took a minute to explore the small town of Baggs.  A minute is about all it took, since it is, indeed, a very small town.  But, I was thankful for the chance to buy a couple gallons of gas (at the first station I had seen in recent memory).

The one tourist attraction in town appeared to be the Butch Cassidy Cabin, built in 1896.  Also known as the Gaddis Mathews House, the cabin served as a hangout for Butch and his friends whenever they were in town, around the turn of the 20th century.  Nowadays, the cabin is owned and managed by the Little Snake River museum in nearby Savery.  On the late Sunday afternoon when I passed through town, the cabin was locked, and no one was home.

The town of Baggs has an interesting website.  Yes, it will make any website developer cringe with its terrible scroll-to-the-left-and-right design, but it does offer some interesting photos and history of the town.

The town of Savery is just as small as its population sign suggests.  Aside from a couple of old storefront buildings along Route 70, the town’s main attraction is the aforementioned Little Snake River Museum, which is just off the highway.

I think there was some kind of private event going on at the museum when I passed by.  Aside from all the parked cars in the picture, you can get the idea.  Several old cabins and historically significant buildings have been relocated to the museum grounds. Numerous signs proclaim the museum is “worth the stop”, and it probably is, if you have the time and an interest in the area.

If you’re thinking about adding the Little Snake River Museum to your itinerary, you’ll want to check out its website for a preview.

Slater, Colorado

For less than a mile, Wyoming Route 70 dips across the state line into Colorado, at the community of Slater.  Slater is nothing more than a post office, and some ranch land, but it does mark the point where the scenery along Route 70 starts to get a little more exciting.

Looking directly south from the main road, I saw a small canyon that looked interesting.  I took the obvious turn off Route 70, and followed it past some farmland…

… until the dirt road cut through the narrow pass.  There wasn’t much to see, except more ranch land, on the other side.

Back on Route 70, the rain showers that I had been dodging paid off, with a rainbow.

From here, the road quickly climbed into the mountains.

At this turnout overlooking Battle Lake, a sign explained that Thomas Edison camped in this area in 1878, while on a fishing trip.  The bamboo fishing rod he used here inspired an idea back at the lab: he tried using bamboo as a filament for the incandescent light bulb.

The road continued to climb, but there wasn’t much of a view along the way.  I knew I was gaining altitude, but the road was lined with trees, making the drive slightly less exhilarating than I had hoped.

When you reach Battle Pass, there’s a parking area and a great view.  It was, however, incredibly cold, thanks to the wind and a light rain that continued to take aim at my camera lens.  It did provide another rainbow, which you can almost see in this picture.

At the parking area, there’s an old log building, but no explanation of why it is there or what purpose it served in a previous lifetime.  You can, however, climb inside.

Just a short distance up the road, there’s another parking area, and the official sign marking the Continental Divide at Battle Pass.

Parts of Route 70 remained dirt, as recently as 1997-98, when the road was paved and upgraded.  It is still shut down during the winter and early spring, due to heavy snowfall.

Beyond the pass, the road begins its descent towards Encampment.  Some nice views open up to the east, looking towards the Snowy Range (part of Day 3).

Encampment

The town of Encampment (or Grand Encampment) used to be a booming copper town, around the turn of the 20th century.  Now only a few hundred people remain. The town’s police department (complete with bell tower) caught my eye as I drove through…

… as well as this statue, erected in 1997 to celebrate Encampment’s 100th anniversary.

Encampment was once home to the longest aerial tramway in the world.  The 16-mile-long tramway carried copper ore from the Farris-Haggarty mine to the smelter at Encampment until around 1908, when the industry collapsed.

At Encampment and its neighbor town of Riverside, Route 70 ends.  Turn north on Route 230 until it ends, then continue north on Route 130 to Saratoga

As I drove up Route 230, I was fascinated by some small, craggy hills that lie just east of the highway.  The hills looked like piles of loose rock that had been dumped there.  I think the area is known as Baggot Rocks.

Bigger mountains lie in the distance, but those will have to wait until tomorrow.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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