Sunlight Basin

105182105411111CDPBy Neva Bodin

We spent 8 days in the Rocky Mountains last week in a place called Sunlight Basin. I still carry the wonder of the rock giants that guard the lush valley and burbling mountain creek in my soul.

“Mountain Majesty” are two words that not only go beautifully together in the song, America The Beautiful, but also fully describe my feelings whenever I see a mountain. Gigantic, longstanding, awesome, peaceful, and awe-inspiring also fill my thoughts.DSCN1354

To a flat-lander, a first encounter of this area may be a shock. My husband and I first pulled our camper off Chief Joseph Highway (a picturesque road that takes one to great heights before dropping into the valley via multiple switchbacks) onto Sunlight Road six years ago. As the gravel road led us through ranch land lush with grass and protected by log fences, we wondered how wild it would really be. As the road narrowed in places to one lane, climbed to new heights with steep banks right next to the camper, led around sharp bends, and pine trees and aspen closed in, we began to fear it would be too wild! We pulled into a campsite by the creek.

Later, our mountain savvy son-in-law informed us we should have driven further! So this year, on our third trip there, we drove 15 miles into the basin, settling our campers on the previous site of a Sulfur Mining Camp. (The old outhouse—not useable anymore, is still there.)

But oh, the peace: of hearing water washing a stony creek bed as it hurried out of the mountains; the lack of man-made odors in the sweet, fresh air; the ever-changing scenery in mammoth  mountains with their razor sharp peaks that gave birth to clouds and afternoon showers, wrapped themselves in ribbons of fog at times, or glowed in the golden haze of evening sunsets.DSCN1296

DSCN1377And the wildlife, some visible, some not, but their presence known by their calls, tracks and scat. Two in our party saw a black wolf, two years ago we saw four wolves together. All of us saw moose, deer and squirrels. Night Hawks competed with Bank Swallows in the evening sky, swooping to clear the air of bugs. A young jay or hawk cried vigorously for hours to remind a parent to feed it. Multiple other bird calls filled the air. Binoculars identified Rocky Mountain Sheep and Mountain Goats near the summits.DSCN1393

An occasional huge bug helicoptered into our campfire area, just to see what we were up to. Smoke baptized us as mountain breezes swirled it around in generous amounts to everyone gathered around the rock fire ring. Ambience was no problem!

We ate like kings—some beans to remember the early trappers and cowboys, but also steak cooked over a wood fire, shrimp boiled in beer, tacos, hamburgers, brats and early morning flapjacks, eggs, bacon and hashbrowns. We rode our four-wheelers through creeks reluctant to let us through which soaked our feet with snow-cooled water. We marveled at an old gold mine that had heavy machinery still in place—how in the world did it get there, probably close to a hundred years ago, up a mountain covered in vegetation, trees and rocks?DSCN1331

In short, we melded present and past in another mountain top experience for me, out of reach of cell service, internet service and the corner store. Awe, sweet bliss.


18 thoughts on “Sunlight Basin

  1. Neva, what beautiful descriptions you shared. I could almost feel being right there with you. It sounds like an awesome place to visit and I hope to go there one day. So glad you had the time to get away from the “rat race” and get back to nature and in tune with yourself!


    1. Thanks Linda. It was great, we’ve had a stressful year with my husband having major surgery as well as my sister with many health issues and surgery, and life! That was a welcome respite! Thanks for the comment.


  2. Neva,
    Now you know my secret. I love the mountains and even though in a city, we sit on the base of a fourteener. Heaven.

    So glad you enjoyed your trip, and your words brought back so many memories of camping when I was younger. Sigh! Doris


    1. Wish everyone I know could have been there with me, but then it might not have been so quiet? But would love to share that with all of you! Sounds like you have a great location. Thanks for commenting.


  3. Sounds like a fantastic trip Neva. I love the mountains too. Really enjoy our CA Sierra Nevadas. Would love to do a trip into the Tetons. We’ll have to check out Sunshine Valley when when we get back to WY.


    1. Actually it’s Sunlight Basin and is on the map, just off the Chief Joseph Highway. A gorgeous place, as are the Tetons. I love them too. Hope you get a chance to check both places out. You feel worshipful when viewing those mountains. Thanks for commenting.


  4. On a rainy day here in Sheridan, Wyoming, I`m staring at your photos of blue sky and green grass and wishing I was there. Years ago when my family traveled to Yellowstone National Park, we came home via the Sunlight Basin road, but I`m assuming that`s not the same place you were. I`m glad you had a nice trip.


    1. You might have taken it, it turns off Chief Joseph, but wouldn’t go through, just goes back into the mountains. Wish you could have been there to share it!
      Thanks for comment!


  5. Mentioning Chief Joseph Highway made me think of his speech and these final words: “Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”


  6. Neva,

    Shhh….your description will make everyone want to crowd into that little piece of heaven. Thank you for taking us all away for awhile!


  7. Beautiful, just beautiful. The call of the wild comes across so well, Neva. Lovely post, thank you. I’m so glad it’s possible to appreciate unspoiled nature like this and right now I’d love to be there…that is …before the snow comes. 🙂


    1. I would imagine it’s beautiful when the snow covers it also, but I too don’t want to be there then!! Can imagine the pristine white and loud quiet then! Unless a snowmobiler comes along. Thanks, Neva


  8. Your describiption has me sitting right back at the campfire all over again. Thanks for the moment of peace in a maelstrom of busyness. Being in the peace-giving mountains is like being enfolded in a poem written by God.


  9. Neva,
    Shhh…..if the world finds out enough about Wyoming’s little pieces of heaven, we’ll start looking like LA! (Thank you for the beautiful descriptions and pictures —- it took me there for a moment.)


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