5 Best Quick Stops for Long Drives

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Wyoming Wanderlust

It was difficult to stay the course in Wyoming on our long drive day. The Equality State offers too many wild and wonderful things to write about, much less visit.

Thankfully, Wyoming is only a two day drive from our neck of the woods, so we felt alright about letting most of it go for another trip. No need to make a long drive any longer!

Above: Beautiful Wyoming. Image from Peakpx.com

[This is part of our ongoing series about our family road trip from Oregon to Georgia. To start at the beginning, click here.]

@dinkumtribe It may be unconventional, but it works well for our high-energy kids! @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #roadtripwithkids #familytravelvlog #adhdfamilytravel #chickendance ♬ The Chicken Dance – The Hit Crew

That said, we took every opportunity we could to catch some fun along the way. A little know-how and our RoadTrippers app helped us spice up what could have a been a long, dreary drive over the high plains. Here’s five ways we’ve learned to liven up a long haul.

pinnable image of boy eating ice cream and cowboy on bulldozer statue. Dinkum Tribe logo. Text says: 5 best quick stops for a long drive
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One: Marker Meet Up 

Ok, I’ve been teased for being the plaque reader, but there’s a lot to be gained from taking two minutes to read the historical marker. In fact, the day’s first pull-off is a case in point:

West of this sign is the opening of Hoback Canyon. This canyon first provided a way through the mountains for game and Indians, and later for mountain men and settlers, but the rugged trail was hazardous for horses and wagons.

On September 26, 1811, the Astorian party led by Wilson Price Hunt entered the canyon here. This large group, funded by New York millionaire John Jacob Astor, aimed to establish a fur trade enterprise across the unsettled Oregon Territory, and set up a base for Astor’s Pacific Fur Company on the western coast. These were the first white men to pass this way.

Three legendary trappers, Hoback, Reznor and Robinson, guided the party. This stream and canyon afterward became known as the Hoback. On October 10, 1812, six Astorians led by Robert Stuart camped here on their return trip to St. Louis to report the establishment of Fort Astoria on the Oregon coast.

On Sunday, August 23, 1835, Jim Bridger’s brigade of trappers and Indians, accompanied by Reverend Samuel Parker, camped here after departing the Green River Rendezvous. This basin was then known as Jackson’s Little Hole.

Reverend Parker was delivering a sermon to the group when buffalo appeared. The congregation left for the hunt without staying for the benediction. This was the first Protestant service held in the Rocky Mountains.

-quoted from sign
Above: Everyone was listening to the sermon, until the Buffalo appeared.

Now, you tell me where I can find a convenient stop that’s not only relevant but humorous to boot!

This one marker connected our trip with previous explorations in Astoria, Oregon and prepared us for what we’d soon learn at the Museum of the Mountain Man. The added humor is not an uncommon feature in historical markers! 

A later marker at the famous South Pass would remind us that mountain men like Jedidiah Smith opened the way from the emigrant wagons of the Oregon Trail and other western trails.

Above: Wyoming gets the prize for having the best historical markers. They’re everywhere and they’re beautiful!

The marker also gave us another opportunity to walk the wheel ruts—all this without ever exiting the highway.

Every driver needs that quick stop to take off their sweater, check on that text, or simply stretch their legs. Why not make that stop count in more ways than one?

Above: Oregon Trail ruts in Wyoming’s High Plains.

Two: Watch for Wildlife

Don’t assume that your long stretch will be altogether tame. Wilderness yields wildlife for the savvy traveler. Even rural areas can be peppered with llamas, emus, or zebra!

The odds only improve as you add on the miles so keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to pull off the road when the creatures appear. 

Above: I was delighted at how many antelope we saw as we drove through southern Wyoming.

Our Wyoming drive featured a bald eagle, two variety of deer, and dozens of pronghorn antelope. Signs about wild horses further whetted our interest and increased our determination to keep driving.

Three: Snag the Spontaneous

Above: Ice cream and cowboy boots. Does it get any better?

Adventure and independence are the essence of the Road Trip. No other form of high-speed travel allows the traveler to explore the landscape, experience the culture, and engage with the people in the context of their daily lives. 

Our day-long roam through Wyoming involved at ice cream stop at Point of Rocks, a tiny hamlet on the Interstate 80. Weird and wonderful, the small settlement features a handful of families, the remains of a stage route, and a landscape not unlike Cars’ Radiator Springs.

But the icing on the cake was the colorful fuel station that hosted our spontaneous Ice Cream event. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Above” “Cowboy Riding a Bull-Dozer In Point of Rock, WY”
Above: More fun at Point of Rocks, WY.

Maybe I’m crazy, but it’s stops like Point of Rocks that makes all the miles worthwhile. Take the time to get a treat and snap some fun pics before resuming your journey. 

Four: Grub and Go! 

Sunlight was dimming and stomachs were growling as we pulled into Rawlins, Wyoming. We had a time finding the right restaurant for our squirrelly family of eight, but the adventure afforded us a memorable walk along Rawlins’ downtown.

Rawlins, Wyoming

Rawlins is a small city but what it lacks in size in makes up in character. Golden Age storefronts, outdoor art, and beautiful brick buildings give this city all the charm of a large, well-placed town. 

The ankle train eventually led us to a local pizzeria with its own jukebox setup. After eating way too much pizza (and walking off nearly none of it), we loaded up once more.

However, the highway would have to wait moment because opportunity was only a block away, in the shape of a Frontier Prison. The site was only yards away so why not take a peek? 

A lot can be said for having dinner away from your vehicle. Pizza, promenade, and prison put Rawlins on the map for me. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who remembered our evening there.

Five: Tap the App

Our jail drive-by wasn’t a chance encounter. We first came across the historic attraction through the RoadTrippers app, and this amazing app soon paid off again.

We’d overnighted in Laramie and had just resupplied at a grocery store, and felt that we’d like to see one more sight before pushing off into Nebraska. Thankfully, a wonder wasn’t all that far away. 

Above: Can you imagine having so much snow that you need a train-sized plow to power through it?

I thought I knew trains, but all that was about to change. Never in my life had I even heard of a Snow Train and there it was standing in front of me—an enormous engine with a massive snowplow.

Something between awe and gratitude gave me a new respect for the Great Plains—and a determination to never ever live there. No blizzards for me, please!

The RoadTrippers app has increased our versatility as family travelers. The ability to have an organized, up-to-date list of all of the nearby sites is an incredible blessing. 

As Roadtrippers affiliates, we can offer you $5 off your purchase of the Roadtrippers Plus membership! Here’s our Promo Code: BTR5QTP Thank you for supporting our family’s business!

Above: Making things fit is no small challenge on family road trips. Good skills and the right tools make all the difference!

Five for the Drive

That’s our list! We’ve found that it’s not hard to enjoy even a long drive day if you’re willing to reserve some space to explore and enjoy. What tips do you have for long-haul days?

(The next post on our family road trip series put us in North Platte, Nebraska at the Golden Spike Tower of the Bailey Yard.)

© Copyright 2021 Brian A. Warren

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About the author

Brian Warren is a native of California and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and several other countries. He's husband to Jennifer, Dad of six children, and taught middle school history for several years. His special interests include craft beers, the American Old West, and geology. Brian is also an online marketing specialist and cofounder of Dinkum Tribe, a website dedicated to healthy, happy families. Feel free to send Brian a message at [email protected].

Comments

  1. We love taking road trips! It’s our favorite way to travel. We always make sure to stop at the weird places along the way or whatever “attractions” are being advertised. On one trip, we ended up in Metropolis (I believe that’s what they called the town). It was a town dedicated to Superman!

    1. LOL! We totally found Metropolis on this road trip- we’ll have a post on that later. They were having a mini Comic-con when we were there, so it was pretty fun. Weird/unusual stops are our favorites.

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