Hiawatha Road, Wyoming to Powder Wash, Colorado


In order to continue my ill-advised trip across the dirt roads of southern Wyoming, and in the process avoid a detour back to Interstate 80, I was once again searching for a road that few people travel.  I knew that I was on Wyoming Route 430, and I was near the state line, but I wasn’t sure what road I was looking for.

Thankfully, this time, the road was well marked.  Just north of Colorado, I found Sweetwater County Route 25, the road to Powder Wash (30 miles away) and Hiawatha Oil Camp (11 miles).  I knew I was in for a long drive, with little or no asphalt to comfort me, but I was reassured knowing this route serviced a couple of oil operations.  It turned out to be smooth and well maintained, all the way to Powder Wash, where the pavement began again.

Hiawatha Road was mostly boring.  A few times, the road dipped down into valleys that were slightly more green than the rest of the surroundings.  Just like almost everywhere else in Wyoming, there weren’t many other people around.

The road crossed back and forth between Colorado and Wyoming several times.  When I entered Colorado, there would be a County Route 4 sign.  Crossing back into Wyoming, the Route 4 sign would be facing the opposite direction.

A very old road sign near Hiawatha Oil Camp reassured me I was headed the right direction, even though  I didn’t plan to go as far as Craig, Colorado.  The oil camp was only about a half mile beyond this sign, over the hill.  Don’t expect to find a Walmart or even a 7-11 anywhere near here.

The road did have a few dramatic moments.  I called this spot, where the road climbed up and over a small hill, the “question mark”.

Near the top of the punctuation mark, I stopped once again to look back at the very wide, flat expanse of land through which I had just passed.

Powder Wash is no more exciting than Hiawatha was — just a few buildings and no businesses, as far as I could tell.  The biggest reason to celebrate was the reappearance of blacktop, and a double yellow line.

When I reached Colorado Route 13, I turned around and took a picture of the road to Powder Wash.  At this point, I was just two miles south of the state line…

… where I said goodbye to Colorado…

… and hello, once again, to Wyoming.  Before the day was over, I would dip back into Colorado one more time, for just a mile or so, and that would be the extent of my visit to the Centennial State on this trip.

From the Wyoming/Colorado state line, head north for another two miles, to the town of Baggs. 

At the state line, Colorado Route 13 turns into Wyoming Route 789.  That number might ring a bell for hard-core road geeks.  In the 1950’s, a proposal was made to create US Route 789, the “Canada to Mexico Highway”.  The proposal was turned down, but Wyoming had already given the number to its share of the proposed highway.  So, the route number stuck.  (Other states had co-signed Route 789 with other highways, so they simply removed the 789, leaving their roads with the original numbers).   I ended up on Wyo. 789 once again on this trip, as I left the state, headed to Billings, Montana, on day 8.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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