Joys of Dubois: The Midtown Mountain Overlook

It certainly says something about the hiking trails around Dubois that I could begin to find the views from the town overlook boring.

Overlook4 It certainly says something about the hiking opportunities in and around Dubois: By now,  the scenic overlook in the middle of town seems a bit of a bore to me, because I’ve traipsed so much of it so often.

But heavens, what you can see here!

You can drive to the top, or take the rather steep trail up from the parking lots halfway up, as you see in this picture.

The huge two-level butte is literally in the middle of town. It looms over the main section of Dubois, ascended by a steep dirt road that you reach by taking a right turn from the highway, just as you begin to head west out of town.

Overlook1Here’s what you see from the top, looking east. (That’s the top of the foot trail at the lower left.) You may want to stop a moment and sit on the log guard rail to catch your breath. There are informational signs about what you’re looking at.

You can see much of the town off to your right (not visible here), or the eastern edge of town in front of you (visible in the center of this photo).

But what really pops are the mountains all around you. This is one of the few places on earth where you can see all three mountain-building processes from one location, according to geologists at the Miami University of Ohio field station near Dubois. In the photo above, at right, you can see part of the range above Whiskey Basin, rises from a wonderful valley filled with lakes dug out by a glacier. There’s a splendid hike to a glacial lake isolated at the top.

The Absaroka mountains are volcanic (dumped by the massive Yellowstone eruption about 640,000 years ago), are easily visible from the western edge of the Overlook (not shown)Overlook7.

Here, in the third photo, you see in the distance the Owl Creek Mountains to the north and east, which are tectonic (the result of subsurface plates sliding over each other).

Behind you, looking to the south from the Overlook, you would see the long hump of the Wind River Range, which is sedimentary, rising behind the town. These mountains have  eroded over the ages from a time when this area was, incredibly, ocean floor.

I’m told you can still find marine fossils over there. Haven’t had time to investigate.

Overlook6From many vantage points on the Overlook, your closer view takes in these fabulous badlands. I’m always tempted to go sliding down one of these draws. (It’s difficult to envision a steady stroll down.)

Once in a while, if it’s hot, I’ll venture down a few yards to let the dog have a rest in the shade of a sagebrush plant. I never tire of seeing these magical formations.

Overlook2Last year Dubois Area Rails & Trails added a bike route up here. It was startling to see many new avenues where I used to blaze my own way. Haven’t seen many bikers up there yet, but I did see plenty of bike tracks as I walked the trail.

It’s intriguing to inspect the rocks dropped along the Overlook3trail over the millennia. Did this one sit at the bottom of an ancient ocean, or did a glacier drop it? I have no idea. Like so many other stones on so many paths in the Wind River Valley, it’s intriguing in its own right, however it got here. (Kinda like most of my neighbors, come to think of it.)

Overlook5One thing I’ve never observed here is quadrupeds, other than my faithful canine companion and other dogs brought up here for the chance to sniff around.

But evidently other mammals are here sometimes when we’re not.

The other exception, occasionally, is horses (as you can tell from the roadside sign below). The race course is on the second level, appropriately rustic and informal. The shack sells beer and hot dogs.

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© Lois Wingerson 2015

Author: LivingDubois

I am a retired science journalist, devoted to enjoying and recording the many pleasures of life in the Wyoming's Upper Wind River Valley.

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