On Friday the 13th, we rode 127 miles on The Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway (highway 16) from Buffalo, over Powder River Pass (9666 feet) and through Ten Sleep Canyon to the town of Ten Sleep, and then back to Buffalo. The Skyway provided great views of the pine, spruce, aspen, and fir forests of the Big Horn National Forest, the Big Horn Mountains and a view of Cloud Peak, the highest peak in the Big Horn Mountains at 13,167 feet. Here is what the Ten Sleep website says about the canyon area: “On the west side of the Bighorn Mountains, Highway 16 descends through a majestic limestone canyon on its way to the small town of Ten Sleep, working its way through a series of switchbacks that will take you down approximately three thousand feet in less than 10 minutes. The layers of handsome dolomite stone in the canyon walls were first formed millions of years ago on the floor of an ancient sea. Later, they were thrust up by the formation of the Bighorn Mountains. Finally, the downrushing waters of a cascading stream, augmented by the run-off from melting glaciers, began to cut through the rock to reveal the marvelous black, blue and tan walls of Ten Sleep Canyon.”
Along the route, we saw markers identifying the various rock formations, some of which are more than 3.5 billion years old – in fact, they are among the oldest rock exposures in North America. The signs describe what kind of rock formations are at the location, the name of the era in which it was formed, and how old the rock formations are. I thought that was very intriguing, but I can’t find any extra specific information about the signs on the Internet. I am not very versed in geology, but seeing the signs as we rode was very interesting. I wish I could have taken more photos of them, but it is hard to take photos of signs while on the motorcycle, and there were not too many pull offs in that area of the ride. I did take a lot of photos while riding though and some actually turned out pretty well. We also took some shots at the few places where we were able to pull over. I also looked up the elevations of Buffalo and Ten Sleep when we got home, and found out they were at 4967 feet and 4459 feet, so we did climb a lot on the ride, and that certainly explained the colder temperatures up at the pass. We’d planned on stopping at the top of the pass and eating there but it was too windy and chilly, so we rode on toward Buffalo until we found a very pretty high pasture area with a rocky creek. There were no picnic table, just a pull off, so we used the bike seat and tour pack as our table and enjoyed our picnic lunch there. After we got back to the RV park, Fred took off again to go to Ucross, 18 miles away, so he could take a photo for the ABC game we play.