Red Desert and Great Divide Basin

Perhaps nowhere in the west are the spaces as wide and open as they are in the 108 miles between Rawlins and Rock Springs. This high desert land (all elevations range upward from 6,000 feet above sea level) is truly the “home where the antelope roam” and, if the skies do just happen to be a bit cloudy all day (a most unusual occurrence), you can almost bet it won’t rain. In fact, if much rain did fall, the entire region would turn into a huge lake. The area between Interstate-80 and the distant Green Mountains and Antelope Hills on the skyline to the north form the Great Divide Basin, a “hole” in the Continental Divide that drains to neither ocean, only into itself.

While the traveler’s first impression of this region might be of a hard, dry and barren land, closer inspection will reveal a fascinating variety of flora and fauna co-existing in a totally interrelated desert community. Far from being a dead place, the basin literally shimmers with life.

Elk and mule deer are common in the Green Mountains to the north and in the sand dunes region on the basin’s west edge. Antelope are everywhere in the region, particularly in the Red Desert section north of the community of Wamsutter – one of the most important pronghorn antelope ranges in the state. Hawks and eagles dominate the sky while the sage grouse, largest member of the grouse family, fly closer to the ground. Coyotes, bobcats and an occasional mountain lion are in constant search for the great variety of rabbits and rodents that live in the ground. The basin was the home of the last known herd of wild bison in Wyoming. Some of the largest wild horse herds in the world call this area home. The Red Desert is a unique piece of North America – well worth a closer look.