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THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE marks the division between the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds, and in Wyoming the highway actually crosses it twice -- at Mile 158 and Mile 206. So it takes 50 miles to cross the divide(s) while traversing the Great Divide Basin and its Red Desert. While they can't be seen from the road, the Killpecker Sand Dunes make up the largest living dune system in the United States, and are adjacent to fields rich in oil-shale, natural gas, uranium, and coal. Although the Federal Bureau of Land Management controls the land development, environmentalists are naturally concerned that the dunes remain protected from "industrialized" development, such as drilling, mining, and the connected web of supply roads.

The primary water source is from snowmelt and summer storms (we are at 7000 feet), nourishing the scarce vegetation that supports herds of elk, sheep, deer, bison, and wild horses as well as migratory birds.

Red Desert Dunes

Red Desert Dunes

It's uncanny how this ancient lakebed was uplifted over eons of time, and now lies stranded adjacent to the highest highway crossing of my journey across the country.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to explore them further, as it's downhill from here, and there really isn't much to stop for between Rock Springs and Rawlins except to see some sections of old U.S. 30 and the original alignment of historic Lincoln Highway. 

 

 

Crossing the Continental Divide

Crossing the Continental Divide

Week 14,  Miles 1,000

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe