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I Think We're the First | WYBDR Prologue

There are several reasons that @mrs.turbodb and I like to run Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDRs). Some of them are selfish - the trip planning has been done for us by the good folks at RideBDR; some of them are nostalgic - our first trip in the Tacoma was on the Oregon BDR; some of them are practical - we know that the roads - generally - won't be all that difficult, making the trip more enjoyable for passengers; and of course, they also mean that we get to see a large portion of a state in a single shot, feeding our curiosity and giving us ideas for the future.

After wrapping up the New Mexico BDR last summer, I'd had my eye on Colorado or Utah throughout the winter. Both are beautiful states through which to travel, and though we've spent a lot of time in portions of each, a trip through the entire state would be a special treat.

But then, just five months ago - in the dead of winter on Feb. 1 - the Wyoming Backcountry Discovery Route (WYBDR) was released by the BDR organization. Totaling 967 miles and blocked by snow until July, it winds through one of the last frontiers in America - some 48% of the state being public land.

A brand-new route, inaccessible at its release.

We couldn't resist the temptation to be the first 4WD vehicle to complete the entire route and explore a state that we've both wanted to see more of over the last several years. And so, for the sixth year in a row, we are set out on a BDR. It would be familiar, and yet different.

Familiar in that we'd take it a stage at a time. Familiar in that there will be a few places that either @mrs.turbodb or I have already seen - though, none that we've both experienced together. And familiar in that we'd planned a few short side trips to lookouts, hikes, and other interesting places that presented themselves along the route.

There were hints along the way that were on the right track.

Different in that we also planned to do a new "Stage X" route through the Red Desert - a shorter, BDR route that forks off of a main BDR and returns to where it started. Different in that we'd be one of the first 4WD, and first solo vehicles to make the trip. And different in that we planned to eat only two meals each day - an early lunch and early dinner - in order to eliminate the need for milk, which always takes up valuable space in the fridge.

And so, a day before we were to leave, we started prepping food and packing. We envisioned the trip taking 10 days given the travel to-and-from Wyoming, split across nine stages once we got there:

Stage X: Red Desert | 155 miles.

Stage 1: Baggs to Centennial | 160 miles.

Stage 2: Centennial to Elk Mountain | 68 miles.

Stage 3: Elk Mountain to Alcova | 122 miles.

Stage 4: Alcova to Atlantic City | 148 miles.

Stage 5: Atlantic City to Shoshoni | 130 miles.

Stage 6: Shoshoni to Ten Sleep | 104 miles.

Stage 7:Ten Sleep to Burgess Junction | 122 miles.

Stage 8: Burgess Junction to MT Border* | 43 miles.

* Actually, to the Crow Indian Reservation.

It was a Wednesday morning when we headed south. Later that evening, we crossed into the state we'd call home for the next week.

Welcome to Wyoming!


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    JOHN MORAN July 19, 2022

    Only drove across Wyoming once, way back in 1970 and doubt we'll be up there again so appreciate and enjoy your reports. Bummer about the windshield, having had a replace a couple it seems to me they are as thick/strong as they used to be. As for truckers, I've learned to hate some of them, especially gravel, junk, logging, and some independents. Some are very dangerous and we've encountered them around desert mines and logging back roads near Tahoe. I wonder how many people they've run off the roads.

    • turbodb
      turbodb July 19, 2022

      I've only been a few times, and only to very specific bits of the state. As with many western states (NV esp. comes to mind), I can tell that Wyoming is underappreciated.

      The windshield is a bummer, but on the other hand, with a tank of gas what it is these days, it's become a relatively small expense in the overall cost of the trip, I suppose. Definitely a worthwhile cost to experience the outdoors!

      Glad you're enjoying the stories as always, love getting the comments when you do! -dan

    JOHN MORAN July 19, 2022

    YES, unfortunately the cost of a windshield is about the same as the cost of a tank of gas for my truck!

  3. John
    John August 5, 2022

    We did the WY BDR in our Ford Ranger July 7th-13th. Great route. Beaver Rim is not easy for 4 wheel vehicles in some spots, so definitely recommend high clearance before tackling it, especially the stretch past the Overlook.

    • turbodb
      turbodb August 5, 2022

      Hey John, we just missed you! I ran the route from July 5-11, and it sounds like you had the same great time we did. You are the second person to tell me that beaver rim was a little rough, but we didn’t really feel that way at all. Strange how we all get used to different types of terrain, and then a single trail can come off differently for each of us.

      What was your favorite section? Ours was section 2 in the Snowy Mountains, and sections seven and eight in the Bighorns.

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