I discovered the Great Divide Basin the year we delivered a few loads of hay to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. It’s an area roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park, south and east of the park. This is a high plateau area that has no rivers or streams leaving it, so any rainfall stays in the soil or drains to underground aquifers.

On one trip, it started to snow as we started up a substantial grade. Old Yellow started to spin out, and throwing in the tandem axle interlock didn’t seem to help. We stopped. I contemplated sliding backward downhill, but we didn’t.

The snow was just barely covering the road. I gently let out the clutch as I moved my right foot from the brake pedal to the throttle, and, miracle of dark and stormy night miracles, we started moving. I feather footed the throttle all the way to the top of that grade without further incident, and then the snow stopped. We proceeded without further incident.

There was no direct way into or out of the reservation so I took alternate routes home. That’s when I discovered “Hell’s Half Acre,” a store with some food, drinks and ice cream, in addition to Old West and Native American items for sale. The landscape reminded me of the Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco, Idaho, other than the terrain being made of red lava rather than the normal gray-black color.

We discovered Devils Tower in eastern Wyoming the year we got married. It’s a lonesome mesa with, I’m going to guess, the top being about the size of a football field. It’s close to 900 feet tall from the base and 1,300 feet above the surrounding landscape.


Geologists claim it’s a basalt upheaval. It appears to be made of multiple basalt columns, with many of these collapsed at its base. The Native American legend is more interesting. Some of their people were surrounded by giant bears, and the great spirit moved the ground under them the 800-plus feet into the air. The striations were made as the bears clawed furiously trying to get to the top.

I don’t remember the tale of how they got down. Sometime circa the Great Depression, a daredevil parachuted and purposely landed on the top. He nearly starved to death before a rescue party was able to make it to the summit for his rescue.

When discovered by us in the late 1960s, it was beside the main highway. On a trip in the last decade, it was a substantial side trip from the interstate highway to revisit it.

Palouse Falls, a state park in east-central Washington state, is a hidden beauty worth the drive to see. Part of Washington’s “Little Grand Canyon,” it’s a nest of watery glory in the middle of a desert.

Much of eastern Washington state was shaped by Ice Age floods that repeatedly scoured the region as the ice dam that contained ancient Lake Missoula in what’s now northwest Montana repeatedly failed, inundating the area with 400-foot-deep flood waters. These floods carved the changing riverbeds of the Columbia River all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The power of these floods is realized when you note that house-sized boulders strewn about the fertile farmland in the Willamette Valley south of Portland, Oregon, came from northeastern Washington state.

Just northeast of Palouse Falls, “Hole in the Ground” is also part of the legacy of the Ice Age floods. It's over 300 feet deep, with a flat bottom that grows hay and pasture grass and has a nice stream. Gary Belsby, while looking at his hay, showed me a cabin on one side of the hole. “That’s where my wife lived as a little girl. My father bought the area from her dad, and she came along later and had to marry me to get it back!” Gary related.

A decent gravel road crosses it with many sharp turns on the going down and coming up. This chasm continues south to Rock Lake. Coming from the south, on Cherry Creek Road north from Winona (via Lancaster Road) as the gravel road crests a rise, there appears an “I gotta stop and see this” view. The majesty of the “channeled scablands,” as the area is known, is now seen from a high viewpoint showing the continuation of the chasm to the north of Rock Lake and the Hole in the Ground. It’s since fallen, but there was a huge barn in the shelter of the steep gully that was visible from the top. I may never know its history.

And that’s just a sampling of the awesome sites of nature I’ve been privileged to witness, just being in the hay business.