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Carbon County is the third largest county in Wyoming, located along the southern border with Colorado, in the central part of the state. The county seat is Rawlins, a city of approximately 9,000 people and the site of the maximum security unit of the Wyoming State Penitentiary.
A very unique feature is found in Carbon County where the Continental Divide runs the length of the county, north to south. The divide is the imaginary line where any water found on the east side of the divide drains into the the Atlantic Ocean and any water found on the west side of the divide drains into the Pacific Ocean. In Carbon County, this divide splits and runs for miles apart. This area between the two divides is known as the Great Divide Basin and also Separation Flats. Water found here does not drain to either ocean. A very unique geological feature, perhaps exclusive to this area in all of North America,
The terrain in Carbon County is quite diverse going from flat, desert lands to forests to mountain peaks in excess of 12,000 feet, although even the deserts are at or above 6,000 feet in elevation.
Encampment Museum: Do yourself a favor and when in the area in the summertime, go to Encampment for the beauty of the area and the enjoyment of this friendly community but don't miss the museum! There you can easily spend an afternoon looking through the 'Doc' Culleton building where many of the displays are housed, the two-story outhouse (very unique), the actual fire lookout tower or any one of the several other authentic buildings found on the property. Go back to an era when this part of Wyoming was busy with the mining industry. Admission is free (contributions accepted) so the price is right and you will be impressed. Open daily 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day and weekends through October. For information call 307-327-5408. If you want more detailed information with pictures, check out the museum photo gallery.
Winter Sports Activities: Snowmobiling: Carbon County offers over 500 miles of groomed and ungroomed trails for the snowmobilers pleasure! The terrain ranges from novice to intermediate to expert. The county is divided into three distinct areas:
Hanna coal mines
Virginian hotel in Medicine Bow
Sea West wind farm located in easter Carbon County
Saratoga Hobo Pool, a natural mineral hot springs
Snake River Valley in southwest Carbon County, former home of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Wild Bunch
The Snowy Range, a magnificent mountain range with peaks in excess of 11,000 feet above sea level
The Sierra Madre Range, another beautiful mountain range with peaks in excess of 10,000 feet above sea level and many, many recreational opportunities
The Red Desert is a very unique environment which supports one of the last remaining wild horse herds in the country.
The winter months afford the opportunity for snowmobilers to travel the many groomed and ungroomed trails in the mountain areas. Since snow remains until late April, many enjoyable hours are spent seeing the area under a blanket of snow.
Seminoe Reservoir is a hub of water activities such as fishing, boating and water skiing. Seminoe State Park is located here with a camping area and boat ramp.
Although we do not have a ski area in the immediate area, we are a short drive to several areas and are within a couple hours of such ski areas as Steamboat Springs, Vail and Aspen.
For the motorcycle enthusiast, we have many miles of highways with breathtaking views for the road biker as well as the flat, open desert and the myriad of high country trails for the dirt bike rider.
For the fisherman, there are many excellent areas for one to try their luck from the many mountain creeks and lakes to the North Platte river to Seminoe reservoir. There are several excellent guide services located in the area where you can be taught all the proper methods for catching fish in whichever environment you prefer.
Hunters find this area of the world a mecca for all kinds of hunting from sage grouse to ducks. The antelope herds which call this country home are some of the largest in the world and trophies abound. Elk and deer are also found in the area and provide the winter meat supply to many local as well as out-of-state families.
The old pen, empty of all but visitors and memories is today the location of many activities such as both day and night tours. You will learn all about the history and intrigue of this facility and is well worth the time spent.
The Sinclair Oil Refinery, located 6 miles to the east of Rawlins in Sinclair, also employs many of the local residents. Oil is gathered in the surrounding areas, shipped via pipeline to this facility and then it is refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
Since the Red Desert has vast reserves of natural gas, a major pipeline runs parallel to the interstate through Rawlins and compressor stations in Sinclair and Wamsutter (30 miles to the west) assist in transporting and refining the natural gas on it's way to markets around the country.
The ranching industry has long been a staple of activity in and around the Rawlins area and still is today. Though ranching has become less and less profitable and many of the smaller ranches have been purchased by large corporations, many families make their livings the same way they did 100 years ago on lands that their ancestors homesteaded.
Rawlins is the location of the Wyoming State Penitentiary which until 12 years ago housed prisoners in an old facility located only 3 blocks from the downtown area. The new facility is located 2 miles south of town in an isolated area south of the Interstate highway. Today, tours are conducted through and around the old facility and grounds. Many artifacts of the era are on display and a visit here is well worth the effort!
Colorado Interstate Gas has a pipeline headquarters in Carbon County as well as a compressor station located just east of Sinclair where natural gas is sweetened and compressed.
Williams Natural Gas Services has a pipeline heaquarters located in Carbon County
The coal mines located near Hanna supply coal to eastern markets, a low sulphur, environmentally advantageous variety.
Winters here can be rather harsh, what with the snow, cold and ever present wind but there are times when it can be a beautiful wonderland as well.
The summers are when we get rewarded for enduring the long winter months as the temps seldom exceed 90 degrees and the dry climate makes for some very pleasant days as the rest of the country swelters.
Summers are rather short but we have learned to pack as much activity and enjoyment into that time as possible because we know what is in store once summer is over.
Hanna: A small community steeped in coal mining history where even today, there are operating coal mines.
Medicine Bow: Were the legendary 'Virginian' was inspired and also where today much speculation relates to it's potential for wind energy.
Saratoga: A very interesting community where the somewhat rich and famous spend time at the Old Baldy Club. There are several excellent restaurants here and it very much has the Aspen, Jackson, Vail atmosphere with it's shops and galleries.
Encampment: Once the copper producing capital of the US, now is a small, quiet, very friendly town with one of the finest museums in Wyoming. Come visit!
Riverside: The sister town to Encampment and located one mile away is home to the 'Old Depot' bed & breakfast. This once working depot has been recently remodeled into a very unique home-away-from-home. Found here are three rooms with their own private baths and specific theme.
Baggs: Former home to one of the most notorious outlaw bands of the old west, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid and their 'Wild Bunch', this community now has farming and ranching and it's beautiful scenery as it's claim to fame.
Spirit West River Lodge
P.O. Box 605
Encampment, WY 82325
Web Page E-mail
Carbon County Museum
904 W. Walnut St.
404 Lincoln Highway
Medicine Bow, Wy