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Section 10: Trip Nine

Moneta to Thermopolis on the Bridger Creek Road

 

Open Google Map at GPS Coordinates:

 
Beginning: 43.161965, -107.726803
     Ending: 43.614446, -108.220014
 

This trip begins by turning off US-20 (mile #79) at Moneta. As you head north through the Moneta Hills on F-176, you can see the Beaver Divide to the south, Lysite Mountain to the north, and Copper Mountain to the northwest. After eight miles, you cross Badwater Creek to a junction in Lysite. Here the Badwater Road (F-117) turns east to Lost Cabin (see page 148).

Stay north and then west on the Badwater Road. Just outside of Lysite you pass by the Lysite Mountain Road (going north) and you follow along Badwater Creek to where the pavement ends. Continue west across Bridger Creek to a junction. Here you can continue west on the Badwater Road to Shoshoni.

Turn north on the Bridger Creek Road (F-259) and you meander around through the badlands. You then pass several side roads, but stay along the divide between Copper Mountain and Badwater Creek to the next junction in 10 miles. Here the Point of the Mountain Road turns southwest and joins the Badwater Road going to Shoshoni.

Stay north and you pass by Fuller Peak and Greer Peak off to the west. Two miles further, you cross South Bridger Creek to a junction (24 miles from Moneta) with two options to Thermopolis. Here Copper Mountain is to the west, Lysite Mountain to the east, and in the foreground to the northeast is Arapaho Butte.

OPTION: The Dry Bridger/Buffalo Creek Road.

Turn west on the Dry Bridger Creek Road (F-162) and you begin following along the creek and a power line. Three miles further is an auto gate and you begin traveling on the Buffalo Creek Road (HS-5). The road swings northwest and after about six miles you cross West Bridger Creek. Here a ranch road turns west along the creek.

Stay north and the road climbs up a bit. You then begin dropping down along Reed Creek and below Guffy Peak on the west. As the road continues down, you begin seeing cottonwood and chokecherry trees. (Nice Drive.) At the mouth of the canyon, the road swings west and crosses West Kirby Creek. (Note the slumping on the hillsides in this area.)

After crossing the creek, you climb up to a small pass. Here Guffy Peak is to the south, Klondike Peak is to the east, and the Bighorn Mountains are to the northeast. The road drops down a long hill to Alkali Creek and then climbs up Blue Hill. You now begin going down along the side of the hill and traveling through a sagebrush canyon. A bit further the road winds around and passes through Buffalo Basin.

The road continues to drop down and after one mile you begin traveling through Red Canyon. (Nice drive.) After about two miles, the road swings west and follows along Buffalo Creek through a terrific section of the canyon. Twelve miles further, you join W-173 at mile #2. Turn northwest across the Bighorn River and you hit US-20 at mile #130 just south of Thermopolis.

OPTION: The Kirby Creek Road.

Continue north past Arapaho Butte on the Bridger Creek Road to a junction on Bridger Creek (two miles). Here the road continuing along the creek to the north ends on private land.

Turn up the hill to the northwest on the Kirby Creek Road. (F-259 changes to HS-7 after you cross West Bridger Creek enter Hot Springs County in two miles.) The road continues to climb up to a saddle on top where you drop down the other side along Kirby Creek. Eight miles from the top of the divide, you cross the creek a couple of times and leave the canyon. Along this stretch, you can see the Bighorn Mountains to the northeast. To the northwest is Zimmers Butte and to the east is Lake Creek Divide.

After a few miles you begin following along Kirby Creek again and you pass through an oil field area. About 10 miles from the canyon you hit pavement. Turn west along Kirby Creek on the Black Mountain Road (HS-6) and, as you pass Zimmers Butte, you join W-172 (three miles). Continue west on the highway and at mile #4 Cedar Mountain is on the north and you can see the Owl Creek Mountains to the far southwest. At mile #1 you cross the Bighorn River and hit US-20 (mile #139) at Lucerne, just north of Thermopolis.